Expiration Date

Deuteronomy 1:6, 8  “…you have stayed long enough at this mountain…go in and possess the land….”

Observation:  Verse 2 says that it is an eleven-day journey from Horeb, where the Israelites were camped, to Kadesh-Barnea. Kadesh-Barnea was the place where the Hebrews refused to believe God and enter Canaan. Now, as Moses recounts the history of Israel’s wanderings, a full 38 years have gone by and they are again at Canaan’s cusp.

Application:  I wonder what tone of voice the Lord used when He said, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain”. The words He used sound like those of an exasperated parent to a slovenly teen: “It’s time to leave the nest! Get going! You have freeloaded around here long enough. It’s time you got a job so you can launch in life. Your season of sleeping in has reached its expiration date!

Who among us cannot imagine a scenario like that in homes across town? Or even in our own home? But God went further, as He always does, by painting a vision of a wonderful future for those who obey. He spoke as the Great Encourager, telling the people that He has placed the good land of Canaan before them, and that they should go in and possess it. To be sure there is no misunderstanding, He clarifies in v. 8 that this is the land long ago promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants.

I can imagine myself standing on the sidelines, hoping the Hebrews will respond wisely and well. After all, from the vantage point of several thousand years in the future I have seen the bounty of the land of Israel. I know how God has gathered His people into a nation and protected and prospered them. “His promises are faithful and true!” I want to shout, encouraging the people to leave the huddle and move toward the goal line.

But there is another dimension to His admonition to move on. His voice reaches into the future and speaks directly to me. How long ago did I first taste the sweetness of His presence? When did the thrill of His wooing first fill my heart? I realize that as I grew accustomed to His unfailing love, somehow the extraordinary became ordinary and my ardor dimmed. So today the conviction comes that without intending to, I have settled into a place of contentedness He never meant for me to occupy. I have sat in my comfortable chair of easy faith long enough; my time there has reached its expiration date. He encourages me onward, eager to plumb new depths of His promises.

Prayer:  Lord, I confess that I have fallen into complacency. I have taken your presence, your provision for granted. Show me how to re-launch aggressively into new dimensions of intimacy with you. And keep me on that journey until the moment I step into your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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