Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Wrong Kind of Contentment

Sitting recently under the teaching of Mark Kolchin, I felt like parched and cracked dry land with first drops of water and then a flood of water washing over my soul. It was oh, so refreshing but also challenging and convicting. Mark did an abbreviated teaching from his 24-part series "From Exodus to Canaan." We mostly looked at Exodus and Numbers but visited Deuteronomy and other books of the Bible as well.

In front of the room was a huge map of the area including Egypt to Canaan. We tracked the flight of the Israelites and I think every one of us learned a few details we had missed over the years. I could write numerous Victory Calls about my own experience of excitement even after being a believer 28 years and perhaps I will but today's is about a realization I had over the weekend that I share because perhaps you too might find yourself with the wrong kind of contentment.

You know there were 12 tribes of Israel but only 10 1/2 tribes crossed into the Promised Land, 2 1/2 tribes (the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh) settled on the near side of the Jordan.

Now the people of Reuben and the people of Gad had a very great number of livestock. And they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock. So the people of Gad and the people of Reuben came and said to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the chiefs of the congregation, "...the land that the LORD struck down before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock." And they said, "If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan." Numbers 32:1-4

The people of Reuben and the people of Gad liked what they saw on the near side of the Jordan. They didn't want to actually cross into Canaan, but asked to settle just outside the border.

They gave the illusion of being single-hearted with the nation of Israel. "We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, but we will take up arms, ready to go before the people of Israel, until we have brought them to their place. And our little ones shall live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance. For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan to the east." Numbers 32:16-19

The two and a half tribes were enamored with the land OUTSIDE the Promised Land. In their mind it was "good enough" that they didn't actually have to cross the Jordan. They were content but in less than all that God desired for them.

I found that illustration convicting. In many ways, I am like those two and a half tribes, content with being close to the Promised Land but not actually IN the Promised Land. To be in Canaan requires we fully surrender to the Lord, die to ourselves and live in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. To go into Canaan, I must die. To live just outside of Canaan, I deceive myself that part of me can live on. And frankly it is pretty comfortable close to but not IN the Promised Land. I realize I have the wrong kind of contentment.

How about you? Have you FULLY surrendered to God? Are you following Jesus Christ with your WHOLE heart? Are you living the crucified life? Are you discontent until you are IN the Promised Land or are you content to be close enough?


Diane Hunt is the Director of Addiction Recovery and Development at America's KESWICK. In addition to her Keswick responsibilities which keep her busy, she loves to read, write and teach, travel and laugh with her grandchildren. Diane has been married to her husband John over 26 years. She has 2 children, 3 grandchildren, 3 step-children, and 7 step-grandchildren.

Stay tuned, the Crossing the Jordan Bible Study is nearing publication. I believe by September we should have it available for purchase.

James 4:5-6
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (ESV)

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