As a Lenten practice during this season, clergy and leaders in the church from youth to elders will be sharing their devotions.
Scripture: Numbers 31-32
Key verse: (32:5) “If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”
Reflection: How often have I chosen my plans, thinking they are in line with God’s desires in my life? And how often have I judged other’s plans without fully knowing the reasoning behind their actions?
In this passage, the Reubenites and Gadites are one battle away from crossing the Jordan to reach the west, the Promised Land. But they decide the east side is more suited to their needs, to their livestock and possessions. From Moses’ perspective, this was all about their financial bottom line. Moses’ first thought is that this goes against God’s plan of having all 12 tribes live together in community, and that these tribes want to escape the trauma of any more battles. Moses lets them have it, he doesn’t hold back.
And yet when given a chance, the two tribes explain themselves, and assure Moses that they will not leave the other tribes defenseless. Instead, the Reubenites and Gadites promise to continue in battle until all the other tribes have reached the promised land.
God loves us enough to give us the freedom of choice and allows us to discern what it means to follow God’s will. Sometimes that is messy, and sometimes we end up walking further away from God rather than closer to God. Sometimes we think we know what other’s intentions are, but are surprised when we stop and listen. Other times, it seems like all has fallen away from God’s desires, like when the tribes were conquered by the Assyrians. And yet, God continues to be present and work through all of the ups and downs, twists and turns in our lives.
How might the Reubenites and Gadites lives have been different if they hadn’t listened to their instincts, but instead entered the promised land? Perhaps their lives would have been better, perhaps things would have been different. Or perhaps they would have faced a different set of challenges that God would have seen them through. Could it be possible that God doesn’t have just one plan for our lives, but is present with us through all of our circumstances?
God loves us and wants the best for us, so we may be a blessing to others. We see that love in droves when we follow God’s will through discernment, rather than solely relying on our own desires. And yet God is bigger than any one of our decisions, and meets us where we are no matter our choices. During this season of Lent, may we reflect on those times that we’ve chosen our priorities over God’s, and consider God’s presence with us through life’s ups and downs. And through life’s journey may we look to Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross offers us both hope and salvation!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we journey through Lent, help us to prepare our hearts and minds, reflecting on the ways we have strayed from your will. Teach us to take up the cross of Christ with grateful hearts and humble spirits. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Author: Beth Bell, Elder class of 2022
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].