Afraid of the Promised Land

Some days, you sit down to read the Bible out of habit – because it’s what you do every day. You don’t expect anything particularly special to happen. Maybe you don’t even think to pray before you read.

And some days you’re surprised at the strength of your own reaction.

Numbers 12 was up next in my reading. I usually read anywhere from 1 to 4 chapters, depending on how much time I have and whether I stop to study something. After completing 1 chapter, Numbers 13 begins with the following verses:

The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

And I stopped. To say I hesitated would be a major understatement. I felt as if I really couldn’t go on.


I just didn’t want to hear this story again.

I didn’t want to hear about the failure of the 10 spies.

I didn’t want to then read about another 40 years in the wilderness.

I didn’t want to see them wander around the same mountain, complain about the same things – and long for the slavery of Egypt.

I didn’t want to face these things because I knew I would see myself in the story.

Which part of it all gives me pause? Is it the 10 spies who couldn’t, really wouldn’t, look past the challenges long enough to remember what God had already done? Am I so blinded by my own perceived giants that I can’t remember God’s power and faithfulness? Am I so focused on what I know happens next because I, like the Israelites, look back longingly at all the food I had to eat and how, at times, life seemed so much easier, completely ignoring the fact that I was also in slavery?

Do I struggle to even imagine a world where I can instead be like Caleb and Joshua, to be able to look right past the challenges because I know exactly what God is capable of? To be able to state emphatically as Caleb did, “Let us go up at once and possess it for we are well able to conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30).

Because honestly, a lot of the time, when I look at the big struggles in my life like my battle to break up with food, it’s hard for me to envision the Promised Land. It’s near impossible for me to imagine myself moving past this Romans 7 existence (where I continually do what I don’t want to do) and into Romans 8 victory (where I am walking in freedom).

Am I afraid of what the Promised Land might bring?

Only Jesus knows me well enough to answer that.

Jesus, I submit myself to You – over and over and over and over. I am Yours. I do what I don’t want to do, and yet I know I am free from condemnation. Help me to not be afraid of the Promised Land and the battle that is required of me in order to walk into that place of freedom and victory. Because I know Who wins in the end. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.


Day 43: In the Beginning

Rough weekend, food-wise. I need to plan better. And the pizza place needs to stop emailing me gluten-free pizza deals!

Today has been good, though I am a bit headache-y and low energy. And a little “blah” emotionally.

I finished 2 Corinthians yesterday and didn’t know what to read today. Then I couldn’t find my reading glasses. I could still read on the computer, but I hate to do that. Finally found some reading glasses and decided to just go back to the beginning.

So I read Genesis 1.

I feel gross after not-great choices this weekend and need to remember this feeling. Not as a punishment or with condemnation, but as a reminder. I’m dragging physically and spiritually today because of it.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 12-13 (Sunday), Genesis 1 (Today)
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 40: The Fire Doors to My Heart

This is day 40.

Many years ago, I read in Scripture for the first time that God is a jealous God, an all-consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). I don’t know if I came up with this or I read it somewhere (a quick Google search turned up nothing), but I imagined fire doors. You know those big heavy doors in buildings? The ones that have a sign “Must remain shut”? The think, heavy doors would contain a fire to a room and not allow it to go any further?

I imagined that parts of my life were behind fire doors, that there were areas I wasn’t sure I wanted to let in to now that I knew He was this all-consuming fire.

I think of the Misty Edwards song:

All consuming fire
You’re our hearts desire
Living flame of love
Come baptize us
Come baptize us

40 days ago, I let God into an area of my life where He’s been before. I would crack the door open a little with my prayers of “I don’t want to struggle with this any longer!” but I would eventually slam the door shut again, thus shutting out the fire. This time, I have tried to prop the doors open to God. That’s one reason I decided to share so publicly about it.

Today’s Bible reading contained one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NASB)

For 40 days, though I am walking in my fleshly body, I have been fighting a new battle. I’ve called it “breaking up with food,” for lack of a better phrase. I’m not warring against my physical body. This is a spiritual battle. It’s a battle for my heart.

I quoted it before, and I will quote it again:

You’re after my heart and You’re gonna win it
You’re after my heart and I’m gonna give it
And every piece, and every part
You’re after it all, oh, You’re after my heart

Some days I give Him all of my heart, and some days I only crack open the doors. But no matter what, He will win it, every piece and every part.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 9-10
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 39: My Hiding Place

After last night’s song, I was inspired to talk about the following verse for tomorrow’s “Coffee with Brenna” (it posts at 6 AM on Fridays):

“You are my hiding place;

you will protect me from trouble

 and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

In reading a commentary, I found I love what it says in the KJV: “thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

The famous song goes on to say, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

This is why choosing to trust is in my daily checklist. God is so faithful to us. Even when we don’t understand, even when we are terrified, God protects us from trouble. And as if that wasn’t enough, He then goes on to surround me with songs of victory and deliverance.

Thank You, Jesus, for being so present in this journey. I’ve done it imperfectly, but You have remained steadfast the whole time. May I continue to choose You above all else in days to come.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 8
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 38: How I Want to Know You More

Rough day – not in terms of breaking up with food but a friend losing her adult son to COVID-19.

This song has been on my heart for a few days and it seems especially appropriate today.

Hide me in the shelter of Your love
Deep in the center of Your heart, my Lord
How I want to know You more
And keep me in the shadow of Your wings
Safe in the secret place of holiness
How I need You more and more

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 6-7
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 37: What can I do to please You?

Years ago, I wrote a song called, “What Am I Living For?” (video above). You can read the full story of the song here.

As I read 2 Corinthians 5 today, a line from the song began to repeat in my mind: what can I do to please You?

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare—before him. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

“He died for all so that all who live—having received eternal life from him—might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

How relevant this is to breaking up with food! Do I want to live to please my flesh, my earthly desires, or do I want to live to please Jesus Christ? I will stand before Him, life laid bare, and He will ask for an account of what I’ve done in my body and to my body.

“Hey, Brenna, what that session or season or month or year of overeating worth the distraction it brought you from what I’ve actually called you to do?”

The answer is a gutt-wrenching, hearting-convicting, resounding NO.

What am I living for?

What will I leave behind me?

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4-5
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 34: Hang on His Words

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

This verse was loosely referenced in my daily reading. I started thinking about what I put in my mouth versus what comes out of God’s mouth.

Here is the pattern I have noticed in the past 34 days:

I open my mouth to stuff my face – I silence God’s voice

God opens His mouth to speak – I hang on His every word

When I run to food, I hear very little besides the deafening call to more. More food, more sugar, more hiding, more numbing.

When I choose to put down the food, when I choose to open my heart and my ears, it’s His Spirit I am sensitive to. It’s His voice I hear.

“After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.” Luke 19:47-48

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 15
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 33: Fridays

I like Fridays.

It’s the only day of the week I try to get up and take it slow.

On Fridays, I get up and don’t rush off to take a walk. I get a drink and sit in my chair. I read and reflect and talk to God.

Well, I try to.

I started this morning by trying to read the Bible. This was after I loaded the dishwasher and got that started. Today I was restless. It was a cool morning, and I wanted to get something in the oven before it heated up too much. I prep jars of the dry ingredients for various baked goods, but I didn’t have what I needed ready. So I read a little and then decided to get up and fix the baked oatmeal. That took about 20 minutes, and I made my husband’s coffee. I brewed my coffee too, and then finally sat down to read again.

I finished the chapter of the Bible, but I still couldn’t focus or settle.

I started journaling. I realized there were some things I needed to repent of, to ask forgiveness for. Then I just started writing to the Lord.

I showed up, and He showed up.

God, thanks for letting me taste and see that You are good today.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 14
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 32: Choose to Bless the Lord

I want to apologize for yesterday. But at the same time, I don’t.

I felt lousy about it – so much so that at 2 AM, I considered coming back and changing the post (my email list doesn’t grab and send the post until 10 AM the next day).

Then I reminded myself that there are plenty of Psalms which come from a less than hopeful place.

“Out of the depths, I cry to You.” Psalm 130

“Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy.” Psalm 143

“As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God.I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him?” Psalm 42

“O Lord, don’t punish me while you are angry! Your arrows have struck deep; your blows are crushing me.” Psalm 38

Many of them end in a more hopeful place – at least we think so. Well – not Psalm 38.

Don’t leave me, Lord; don’t go away! Come quickly! Help me, O my Savior.”

Psalm 130 does: “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for he is loving and kind and comes to us with armloads of salvation.”

But not all do. Psalm 42 actually ends with the psalmist reminding his soul where its focus should be:

“But, O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise him for all that he will do. He is my help! He is my God!”

This is the self-talk I did with myself in the middle of the night. This is why I let yesterday’s post be what it is, and then this morning reminded myself of His new mercies (Lamentations 3:23). Because I’m not alone in my struggle to keep my eyes fixed on truth, when my soul wants to spiral into despair. I’m not the only one who fixes her eyes on what is seen instead of on what is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18), when I don’t see tangible hope appearing in my perceptions of what I think are hopeless situations.

People throughout Scripture struggled with the exact same thing.

So with David and many others, today I choose to remind myself of this: 

“I bless the holy name of God with all my heart. 2Yes, I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with loving-kindness and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things! My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” From Psalm 103

Today, O my soul, choose to bless the Lord.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 13
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

Day 30: The Least of These

Some people complain that following Jesus is boring.

I think maybe that’s because they are not doing it right.

Following Jesus, truly surrendering to Him every day, is an adventure! Saying to God, Lord, whatever You want to do today, wherever You want to take me, whatever You want to show me, however You want to use me, I am Yours.

My pastor is a missionary kid. 71 years ago, he was born on the mission field in the Dominican Republic. He told us a story today about when he was a child and his dad was dying of dysentery. My pastor didn’t realize it at the time, but they brought him into his parents’ bedroom to say goodbye to his father because they believed he would die overnight. God actually healed him! About 2 years later, a little old woman came up to him at a church where he was speaking while home on furlough* and asked what he was doing on a specific date and time. He thought back and he remembered: that’s when I was dying of dysentery! She said God directed her to an old issue of a missionary magazine and had her up all night, praying for him.

What a testimony!

And then other times, God has you sit with a sick friend (as I did today) and make sure she’s OK. And then prompts you to text her throughout the day to see if she needs anything.

That’s no less God’s work than the missionary sharing the message of the Gospel or the old woman praying for healing or the doctor cleansing the leper’s wounds or hugging a hurt child.

Do the work God has for you today. It may seem mundane compared to going to the jungles to share with unreached people. But it’s not mundane to the person you are serving.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 11
Prayer Cards Prayed: Check
Food Tracked: Check
Activity: Check
Daily Reading: Check
Worship in Song: Check
Choosing to Trust: Check

*(furlough is a periodic break where missionaries come back to their home country and raise support)