Sunday, April 7, 2019

Hard, but better

I am so glad for a simple last name! To pronounce some of your last names is kind of hard, isn't it? The names in the Bible can be even harder! Add to the family names all the names of the regions in the lands referenced within those pages and you get some pretty good tongue twisters! Sometimes we skip over those parts in the Bible because reading all the names is hard and rather than face the challenge, we just move on. Ever wonder what you have missed out on just because you found something a little too difficult? Or you settled for something else that seemed a little easier or more appealing? Yep, the things we 'settle for' can be quite satisfying, but will they ever be as satisfying as the things we have to work just a little harder to obtain?

Of the land that we possessed at that time, I gave the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer along the Brook Arnon and half the hill country of Gilead with its towns.  I gave the half-tribe of Manasseh the rest of Gilead and all of Bashan, Og's kingdom—all the region of Argob, which takes in all of Bashan. This used to be known as the Land of the Rephaites. (Deuteronomy 3:12-13)

Two and a half tribes belonging to the nation of Israel decided that they wanted to stay on the "wilderness-side" of the territory when the rest of Israel was forging ahead into the land promised to them by none other than God himself. Isn't that so like us sometimes - good things are right there in front of us, but we choose our place of familiarity, comfort, and 'first appeal' over the unfamiliar!  We want what we have come to understand and appreciate instead of what we might have to work a little harder to really "get". We often stop just "short" of what God designs for us. Instead of being willing to take that extra step or go a little further, we shrink back. In today's vernacular, we call that "settling". If there is anything I have learned in my years on this earth it is this - God's "best" is not part of "settling". Yes, the land the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh "settled for" was sufficient to meet the needs of their families. It just wasn't all God had intended for them!

There are times we settle for what will be 'sufficient' - but will it be God's best for us? Settling for what we can see and touch is often not best for us - it is just easiest. Think about it - how much easier is it to open a bag of chips and nosh on them than to fix a salad and really get some positive nutrients into our system? Those who entered into the promised land were indeed facing some battles and challenges - giant challenges lay ahead. Their entry and possession of God's blessings would not be a "cake walk". The journey would be hard, but they were confident the rewards would be greater. Provision was made for each of these battles - as long as they kept God in right perspective (as the one true Lord of their lives). Protection was assured - as long as their eyes were fixed (on the one true Lord). By choosing not to "settle" in a place of comfort, they were given a place of reward.  Years later, they'd build the temple, celebrating all things good, remembering all things bad, thanking God for the journey.

On the other hand, Moses wanted more than anything to go into the Promised Land - to experience first-hand the enjoyment of it. Yet, he never would experience that full opportunity. He got the people there, but he would not go in with them. He saw the blessing, but he never partook of it - he didn't enjoy the experience of the land. He heard the reports, but he never got to make them his life-story - there would be no record of him being in the land. He had experienced so much of God's wonders already, but the enjoyment that laid ahead for the nation of Israel was not to be his. Today, we can make the choice to "settle" for what we think is best - what might promise some semblance of fulfillment in our lives - or we can be focused on what God has just around the corner. The choice is ours - what we do with our choice determines our outcomes! There is something I'd like us all to remember - the harder the choice, the deeper the blessing. Just sayin!

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