My son loves to explore. When we go to the beach, we take metal detectors and search for lost treasures.
When we go on hikes, he looks for even the smallest holes in hills and trees and declares he has found another cave. Exploring energizes him, and us too really. It makes us excitedly wonder what we might find next.
When I reflect on this, I know my faith would really benefit from having an exploring mindset in my day-to-day life. God promises that he has a special purpose for us (Ephesians 2:10). If we believe this, we can live every day excitedly looking for ways God is leading us to become who we are meant to be and do the good things we are meant to do.
But instead of choosing to look at my daily experiences as opportunities to explore where God is taking me and who he wants me to become, my fear of change can make me resist God. I get scared to change because I am afraid of failing. I become afraid to learn new things or explore unfamiliar areas of my heart. I find myself too afraid to believe in the impossible because I do not want to be let down.
If you, like me, are wondering how to beat your fear of change, then know this: we can all make a choice to live by faith instead of living by fear. Faith inspires us to explore, while fear makes us resist change.
Caleb was a guy in the Bible who lived by faith and not fear despite what everyone else did. When God gave him a mission, he believed God would help him see it through.
Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me.  I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions,  but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.Joshua 14:6-8 NIV
Caleb took the charge and mission from God to explore the promised land. He followed God wholeheartedly and did not melt in fear like many of the people around him. There is much to learn from this story in the Bible so I would encourage you to read Numbers 13-14 on your own.
In this study, we will be comparing different aspects of Caleb and Joshua’s faith-filled “explorer’s mindset” with the fear-riddled approach of those around them. As we learn to approach our lives with faith, we’ll find ourselves ready to grow and explore God’s purpose for our lives instead of being resistant to change.
An explorer’s mindset
Exploring is about discovering, looking, and learning. It’s about being willing to travel through the unfamiliar. This is what Moses sent several of the Israelites to do before they entered the promised land:
When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country.  See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)Numbers 13:17-20 NIV
God wants us to look at our life to explore what is possible. For us, “exploring” might not mean traveling to a foreign land. But God might be calling us to explore new ways of doing good in our community or new ways of building relationships. Or maybe he wants us to change something about the way we have built our marriage or our relationship with our kids.
When we have an explorer’s mindset, we’re always ready and eager to discover new truths about ourselves and about God, because we know he’s taking us somewhere good:
The spiritually hungry are always ready to learn more, for their hearts are eager to discover new truths.Proverbs 18:15 TPT
Is your heart always eager to discover new truths? Faith in God produces a fearlessness that makes us willing to go into the unknown.
God will help us with the difficulties we might encounter along the way. He wants us to be inspired about the opportunities he’s giving us and how much he wants to give us in our lives.
Do you approach your life with an explorer’s mindset? Do you regularly ask yourself things like: How does God want me to grow? Who does he want me to become? What does he want me to do? Who can I help? What can I change?
- What are some ways you think God is calling you to grow or change that seem unfamiliar to you?
- Do you love to discover? Are you excited about discovering new areas of your heart?
The resistant mindset
Exploration requires courage. Fear will make us resistant to the opportunities God creates for us.
If you are like me, you will look at all of the reasons things could not work out (problems) instead of how God can overcome them. This is the trap of resistance the others on Caleb and Joshua’s exploration team fell into.
They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.  They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.  The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”Numbers 13:26-29 NIV
These explorers did see the good in the promised land, but they found themselves focused on negative things. Focusing on the negative will create fear, and fear finds reasons to avoid opportunities.
When we find ourselves making excuses about why we can’t do what God wants, we have to evaluate what we are afraid of. These men were resistant to the opportunity God gave them because they were afraid of change.
My wife has had chronic back pain throughout our marriage and this was a hard topic for us to explore, especially in our early years. She felt a lot about it; in addition to dealing with intense physical pain, she was afraid of her back never getting better and afraid to hope that new treatments would work. I was always afraid to express that I felt the same because I thought I had to be the “strong” one.
I was so afraid to explore what I felt that I resisted having conversations about her pain with her as well as with God for years. When I finally got the courage to honestly talk about what I felt, we were able to start faithfully “exploring” what God was doing. Our talks led to specific prayers and we began exploring new treatment options. In turn, these treatments dramatically relieved her pain and strengthened her back to the point where it is not as much of a challenge for her anymore.
It wasn’t until I stopped resisting out of my fear that we were able to explore possibilities together.
Are you resistant to change because of fear? Two of the biggest fears that make me resistant are fear of rejection and fear of failure:
- Fear of rejection (insecurity) – what if people think less of me for believing this or going after this dream?
- Fear of failure (inadequacy) – what if I can’t do it or I do a bad job?
Focusing on negative things makes us resistant to change. Additionally, fear and negativity can spread to others around us:
But Caleb calmed the congregation, and he spoke to Moses. Caleb: We should go straight in, right away, and take it over. We are surely able! Other Scouts:  No way. We can’t do it. The people who are already there are too strong for us. So the report of these other scouts was quite disheartening; it made the people question God’s promise. Other Scouts: The land that we surveyed virtually eats its own, and the people themselves are gigantic.  We saw the massive Anakites who descended from the ancient Nephilim! We look like grasshoppers compared to them, and they know it.Numbers 13:30-33 Voice
When we are afraid, what we need is to listen to God and friends who have more faith than we do at that moment. Caleb tried to calm the other guys around him, but they did not listen. We can learn from this and decide to recognize our resistance so we can listen to and learn from the faith of our friends.
- Whose voice do you typically listen to? God’s voice? Or the voice of fear?
- Which kind of mindset do you lean toward naturally? The explorer’s mindset or the resistant mindset?
- What actions can you take to reduce fear and become more of an explorer?
God brings out the explorer in you
No matter where we are at today, God can help us develop the explorer’s mindset. All it takes is choosing faith over fear. With faith, we want to explore, give a good report about what God can do, and listen to what God is directing us to do.
But my servant Caleb isn’t like the others. So because he has faith in me, I will allow him to cross into Canaan, and his descendants will settle there.Numbers 14:24 CEV
What does it look like to have faith in God? The Bible gives us many ways to describe it:
- Believe that he is real (Hebrews 11:6)
- Believe that he is good (Psalm 11:7)
- Believe he has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Believe he loves you (1 John 4:18-19)
- Believe God has a purpose for you (Romans 8:28)
- Believe God forgives you (1 John 1:9)
- Believe God answers your prayers (James 5:13-16)
Every day, make a decision to believe these things about God in order to have an explorer’s mindset.
Choosing to have faith in God and his good plans can help you beat your fear of change, because you know he’s leading you somewhere good.
- What do you need to believe about God in order to have more of an explorer’s mindset?
- What’s something you’ve been resistant to changing? How do you think deciding to have faith in God will help you beat your fear of change?