Spies Like Us

Words like “incompetence,” “inadequacy,” and “ineptitude” have infiltrated the media and the minds of American sports fanatics—even the minds of regular Americans—after Monday Night Football’s debacle in Seattle. The chemistry teacher from Cleveland, Ohio, the driver’s ed. instructor from Tallahassee, Florida, and the part-time high school football coach from Bangor, Maine—aka “the replacement refs”—undoubtedly felt like cowering grasshoppers about to enter a field of stampeding buffalo. The NFL needed these guys to officiate. Unfortunately, for the replacement refs, the NFL was just too big, monstrous, and frightening. I give these replacement refs props for actually stepping out. They knew what they were getting into. In the shadow of the towering monstrosity that is the NFL, I’m sure they felt like grasshoppers in their own sight. And who are we kidding, America, it was entertaining watching them make those awful calls. For me, it was entertaining watching the Green Bay Packers lose a game on one of those awful calls.


But the refs did it! They knew they were inadequate, yet they still stepped out amongst the giants. For what it’s worth, most of them did a pretty good job. Sure, we focus on the bad calls, but for the most part, they did an excellent job.

Minnesota Vikings running back, Toby Gearhart, said the following, “The replacement refs are doing the best they can. We’re not going to dog them for anything. They’re out there and allowing this game to be played.”

Have you ever faced overwhelming odds and felt like you were just completely inadequate? Sure you have…we all have. For me, it seems to happen every time I try to help my daughter with her homework.

That’s where the Israelites were when they were huddled on the border of Canaan. They sent twelve spies across the border to spy out the land and bring back an account as to what they found. Upon their return, they reported that the land was “as promised”…a land flowing with milk and honey. However, the people were giants, their walls were fortified, and the Israelites were inadequate.

Here’s what 10 of the 12 spies decided:

“We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us. The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Joshua 13:31-33, NASB).

Here’s how the other two spies—Joshua and Caleb—responded:

“The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 14:7-9, NLT).

Caleb and Joshua felt just as inadequate on their own accord as the other 10 spies. The only difference was Joshua and Caleb embraced the promises of God and the others did not. Paul writes, “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:4-5, NASB). We often face overwhelming odds…giant obstacles that we could never possibly overcome on our own. Thank God we don’t have to.

Thanks to the recommendation of a dear friend of mine, I listened to Charles Stanley’s sermon this morning titled, The Blessings of Our Inadequacies. Stanley lays out the following blessings we receive from our own inadequacies:

  1. Our inadequacies drive us to God: We recognize our need for God because we can’t handle it on our own.
  2. Our inadequacies relieve us from trying to do the will of God by our own strength.
  3.  Our inadequacies force us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Our inadequacies enable God to maximize our potential.
  5. Our inadequacies allow God to receive glory.

Charles Stanley finished his sermon with three action steps. The same three steps Joshua and Caleb took that day in Kadesh Barnea outside the borders of Canaan:

You acknowledge that you’re inadequate, claim God’s adequacy by faith, and step out!

Whether you’re stepping onto Quest Field to officiate a Monday Night football game, attacking giants in a fortified city, starting a new job with new responsibilities, or helping your daughter with her homework, you can’t do anything to your fullest potential on your own. However, with God and the power of the Holy Spirit, you can and will thrive when you are following the will of God and embracing the tasks He’s set before you.

 “God is looking for imperfect men and women who have learned to walk in moment-by-moment dependence on the Holy Spirit…Christians who have come to terms with their inadequacies, fears, and failures…Believers who have become discontent with ‘surviving’ and have taken the time to investigate everything God has to offer in this life.”

—Charles Stanley


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