A few years ago we were given a gift of a pool. It is a soft-side pool you take down annually. We absolutely love it! I start prepping the area in April each year. The last couple of years I have told the kids that the rocks need to be removed from the sand before I can put the pool up. Why do I start in April? It takes a while for that process to actually happen! Here’s how the process usually goes down:
- Looks at the site: Whine. That is too hard. We will never get that done. Now we will never get to swim.
- Picks up a handful of rocks: Whine. This is too hard. We will never get it done. Now we will never get to swim.
- Week goes by. Bucket of rocks. Whine. This is too hard. We will never get it done. Now we will never get to swim.
- Another week goes by. Wheelbarrow full of rocks. Whine. This is too hard. We will never get it done. Now we will never get to swim.
You get the picture. My answer was consistent. If you want to swim, then pick up the rocks. There is a similar situation that occurs in Joshua. The children of Israel have crossed over into the promised land. They have whipped the southern kings, moved to the northern kings, and are now distributing the land. Joshua receives a message from the tribe of Joseph saying they did not get enough land for the amount of people they have. An initial thought is that God is the one who apportioned the land. If there is an alleged discrepancy, are they really blaming God? The reality is that they were lazy and greedy. They wanted more land without the effort. Where was this land to be acquired? Looking at a distribution map, they essentially wanted a brother to receive less so they could have more. The audacity! Joshua sees through this and replies:
15 “If you have so many people,” Joshua replied to them, “go to the forest and clear [an area] for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, because Ephraim’s hill country is too small for you.”
Joshua tells them to go and clear the land they already have. They were supposed to remove all the people as an agent of God’s discipline. They were to clean out the area. They didn’t want to do that because it took an effort. Blessing rarely comes without some form of effort.
16 But the descendants of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who inhabit the valley area have iron chariots, both at Beth-shean with its towns and in the Jezreel Valley.”
Whine. It’s too hard. We will never get that done. Now there will never be enough room!
17 So Joshua replied to Joseph’s family (that is, Ephraim and Manasseh), “You have many people and great strength. You will not have just one allotment, 18 because the hill country will be yours also. It is a forest; clear it and its outlying areas will be yours. You can also drive out the Canaanites, even though they have iron chariots and are strong.”
Same thing I told the kids…sort of! We need to hear this sometimes as well. We face tough times financially and our sense of entitlement takes a hit. We begin to whine about unfair treatment. Our family relationships breakdown because we are never home and don’t communicate. We feel God should have made it all better so we whine a little and cry out “Unfair! This is too hard.” Our life expectations are not being met. We feel depressed and taken advantage of by life. We whine and cry to God that He should have done something. He should provide for all the wants that we determine are needs. We want the BMW, but are forced to drive something less. We want the 4000 sq. ft. home but must settle for the rental unit with 1 bathroom. We are unsatisfied with life and with God. Like the tribe of Joseph, we complain about the apportionments. Why is God so cheap? Why is God so stingy? He could give me so much more, so why is He not? Typically we will design our prayers in a different fashion.
God, You have blessed me so much in life. I feel that I could serve you so much more with a larger home. I could host missionaries and have small group meet at the house. You know the community I serve. I can’t drive this rundown mini-van any longer and continue to serve these people. Lord, I need that new BMW. Lord, I love you. Amen.
Show of hands…who has prayed that prayer? We cloak our greed in spiritual terms. This is what the tribe was doing and Joshua called them out. You want more land? Go clean out what you already have. You will get more if you take responsibility for what you already have been given. If I want the larger house, I should pray about God’s plan for my life. Does it include a larger home? If so, what am I willing to do to acquire the house? Will I cut spending to save money to afford the home? Will I sell my firstborn to have what I feel I rightly deserve?
Why can’t we simply be grateful for what God has given? Why can’t we live within our means? Why not take responsibility for what we have before trying to trade in and trade up for something we can’t really afford or handle? The sense of entitlement we have is astounding. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Joseph) thought about who their relative was and felt entitled. They were not. You are not. I am not.
Take what you have been given and be happy. Be content. Be faithful. God will upgrade your life when you are prepared and when He chooses is the right time.