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Discovery Magazine 10/1/2003

No more Grasshopper Excuses!

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” Such are the words from one of my favorite books as a child—The Little Engine That Could. After bigger, older, and newer engines gave excuses for not helping a loaded, broken-down train to get over a mountain, a little blue engine decided that he could help. Even though the little blue engine was not very big, he did not give excuses that interfered with the task before him. As the story goes, his positive thinking helped him carry a heavy load up and over a mighty mountain.

We often here people talk about the power of positive thinking. The idea is: if you expect to succeed (at whatever you do), you have a much better chance at succeeding, than if you expect to fail.

The Bible tells a story in the book of Numbers about twelve men from the twelve tribes of Israel who were chosen to spy out the land of Canaan, which God had promised to give to the Israelites (Numbers 13-14). Forty days after being sent out, these twelve men returned to their people, and reported on what they had seen. Sadly, ten of the twelve spies returned with a bad report, and gave several excuses for not being able to possess the land of Canaan. “The people in Canaan are stronger than we are,” they said. “Their cities are fortified. And giants live there who make us look like grasshoppers.”

Even though these men formerly had seen God bring ten plagues against the Egyptians (Exodus 7-12), miraculously part the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and provide them with manna from Heaven and water from a rock (Exodus 16-17), they still doubted what they could do with God’s help. Only two of the twelve spies believed that God would keep His Word, and give them the land. These two men, Joshua and Caleb, were blessed for their courage, but the ten unbelieving spies were punished with a deadly plague. Their unbelief and excuses, as well as those of the rest of the Israelites, displeased God so much, that Israel was sentenced to forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

God expects His children to obey His commandments without excuse. Christians should be the most positive-thinking people in the world, because God is on our side, and has promised to help us accomplish His will (read Philippians 4:13 and Hebrews 13:5-6).

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