Today this isn’t as much about this passage specifically but about a time when I remember encountering it in the past. My freshman year of college, I got involved in a not-so-healthy Christian group (many refer to it as a cult). I don’t need to get into the details of all of it but it was a difficult and painful situation that still ripples at times in the present day.
But as I read today’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, I had a flashback to that group. I remember being at a service at a local middle school where the group met and the preacher was focusing on this passage from Numbers 13 about the spies going into the land. I can still remember the exact space and the way that the music was done and also remembering seeing my junior high gym teacher also there at the service (that was weird). And I remember taking these notes in my Bible (and more on the facing page). But I also remember what I felt when I got out. Pain for the ways that I was manipulated and then essentially tossed away when I left the group. Anger at the people who targeted me and seemed to befriend me. Shame for getting caught up in it at all. Grief for the ways that I hurt others while I was with the group.
Reading the passage allegorically today, maybe those are the “Nephilim” (the giants) in my life that I have had to work to overcome over these last few decades. And I know from the experiences of others – both those who were a part of this group and those dealing with other painful circumstances – that these things are also Nephilim that others are trying to overcome.
Reading into tomorrow’s passages, I give thanks for people like Joshua and Caleb who reminded the people that, in the strength of the Lord, the giants can be overcome. I am grateful for a dear friend named Will who was the Caleb / Joshua that I needed when I left that group and felt very alone on a campus of 20,000+ students. Without him, I don’t know where my walk with Jesus would have gone. And I am grateful for my family who also never gave up on me even as this group was trying to get me to give up on them. And I am grateful for these notes from years ago that remind me of the healing and transforming power of God.
One more thing – if you had an experience of a group such as this (or want to know more about my experience) and are still working on healing and moving on, don’t hesitate to let me know and I can walk alongside you, pray for you, and/or offer some resources that can help.