By Leah Fuller
As twilight faded rapidly, twelve weary hikers stumbled along the creek desperately trying to reach their destination before night plunged them into total darkness. The leaders scouted ahead for a few moments and returned with encouraging news. “We're almost there, and there's even a place we can camp,” they reported. Bolstered with hopeful expectation, the travelers plodded a few hundred feet and, to my bewilderment, bushwhacked straight up the hill to a small, flat ridge. Upon their arrival, the group began setting up camp as I called the leaders aside to ask them what was going on. “We're here!” they exclaimed, “At the place where the creek splits. We're at the destination.”
“We are?” I questioned. “I don't remember a split in the creek at the destination I gave you.”
“We'll show you,” they replied as they rushed to get their map and excitedly point to a location. I was pleased to see that they were correct about their location. However, the location they pointed to was not the assigned destination.
“That's not the destination I remember giving you,” I challenged. Without missing a beat or even seeming confused, they gave a baffling response.
“You're right; the destination is over here. We just forgot.” They knew exactly where they were supposed to be.
“Well, what do you think that means?” I asked. Weary despair registered on their faces as they realized their plight. They had deceived themselves and now stood on a ridge over a mile away from the true destination.
The episode reminded me of twelve men who embarked on an adventure to scout Canaan. They encountered a beautiful country—lush, vibrant, and full of abundance—the land God had promised to Abraham many years before. And upon their return, they reported the land's bounty. Caleb told them, “You won't believe it! This land is everything we've hoped for and more! We've reached our destination. Let's go!” What happened next was a moment of pure deception. Ten out of the twelve spies replied, “No way, Jose! We can't go there. It's too scary. God must have gotten the destination wrong. We'd rather go to that other destination over there...in Egypt. We like that better.”
I have to ask, “Are you deceived, thinking you are living in truth, yet actually choosing to believe something absolutely untrue?” It's more common than one might think. If you were raised in a Christian home, going to church your whole life, you would know God, right? Could it be that you really just know about God because you have never actually chosen to give your whole life to Him to be transformed? Have you convinced yourself you are a Christ-follower, even though the way you live your life looks no different from your neighbor who wants nothing to do with God? Ephesians 4:17-18 says, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” It is easy to deny God's truth and deceive ourselves with hard hearts. If God is calling us to action, we make excuses because we want to clutch a life of comfort rather than live radically or differently.
Well, the day's journey for those twelve young hikers didn't end on the ridge. They hefted their packs to trek back down the creek and fumble their way to a trail that would take them to their goal, but in the darkness, confusion defeated them. They camped for the night and hoped to do better in the light of day. However, they had so deceived themselves in the dark that they could neither prove their present location nor the identify the destination that morning. We started our day with a discussion to guide the students to a realization of how they had deceived themselves, not only with the map, but also in their relationships with the Lord. Eventually, we granted them grace and showed them exactly where they needed to be.
Is God trying to show you how you have been deceived? Trust Him anew, and He will set your feet on the right path and grant you the grace to know Him more fully.