The Israelites spent 40 years wandering through the desert on their way to the Promised Land, mostly because of their own disobedience. During that journey, they often gave in to despair—losing sight of the inheritance that God was preparing for them. But not Caleb. The story of Caleb is told, in a nutshell, in Joshua 14:6–15. At the age of 40, Caleb was ready to claim the land that God had promised, but because of the people’s disobedience and lack of faith, he had to endure a 45-year delay before he saw that promise fulfilled. What was it that kept him going, year after year, until, as an 85-year-old man, he finally entered into his inheritance? I believe he could not have made it through unless he had kept his eyes focused on the glories of the future, rather than on the difficulties of the present.
We need to keep a clear view of the promises into which God is leading us as we head through difficult, challenging times here on earth. Keeping our eyes on the prize makes it easier for us to endure the hardship and struggles of the present. Every church has struggles; every church goes through growing pains; every church experiences highs and lows. During those lows, we can find encouragement in the promise that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). There are opportunities all around us! Within two blocks of the church, there are two public schools and a community college, several high-rise apartments and rowhomes, two union halls, and countless stores and restaurants. All of these buildings are full of people who need to hear the gospel message and know the love of God. If we shrink back, as the Israelites did on the cusp of the promise, we will spend our years in frustration, spinning our wheels. Instead, let us move forward in the faith of Caleb, proclaiming, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30)! Highway Tabernacle has a long, glorious past. We have a wonderful present, filled with God’s miraculous provision. And God is calling us to press on boldly toward a guaranteed future, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
This year, Highway Tabernacle celebrates 125 years of ministry to the city of Philadelphia. The theme for our celebration is, “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, and Anticipating the Future.”
Otis A. Fortenberry