PASTORS' DAILY DEVOTIONAL
Early RetirementJohn Tilton
"The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, "Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon-the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel-are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. 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." Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, "Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the LORD has given them? This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to look over the land. After they went up to the Valley of Eshkol and viewed the land, they discouraged the Israelites from entering the land the LORD had given them. The LORD's anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath: ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly.' The LORD's anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone." (Numbers 32:1-13)
The Reubenites and Gadites who had come through the desert experience like all of the other tribes apparently were able to gather a wealth of herds and flocks. Taking into consideration their wealth and the sustainable land that was already subdued, versus what they perceived would be a tough crossing of the Jordan, the probability of more war; led them to plead their desire and preference to abandon the others to remain where they would be comfortable. Moses reply was a stern pushback citing their half-heartedness and their request would be a discouragement to the Israelites. Moses also then cited how their fathers did the same thing and therefore suffered the consequences of wandering in the wilderness and none would see the promise land.
I see how we are often the same in perhaps letting our success, possessions and wealth lead us to wanting to retire to be content with what we have rather then continue the fight or pursuit of our goals and assignment. What comes to mind is the tendency to want to hold on to what we have, rather then risk; thus often trying to find an early way out or go through the motions with a half-hearted effort rather then with passion, fervor and throwing our heart over the line as was when we first began the journey or assignment. It's sort of like how some who reach middle age often begin looking at and yearning for early retirement. It can also be like times we compromise and settle for what we've achieved rather then reaching the initial vision and goal. These times often come when we see challenge ahead like the crossing of the Jordan. My hope and desire is to continue the assignment, fight the fight in spite of Jordan experiences, keeping my eye focused on the vision and goal, and finding the root and ways to keep the passion, fervor and drive.
Dear Lord, please do help me to keep the fire and fervor burning in me to finish the races you put before me, especially when I tend to want to be content and complacent wanting to rest and retire on my laurels and successes. Please help me to continue to see the vision and goals, thereby being persistent, especially when I anticipate Jordan's before me. Let me not get distracted or lose the fiery spirit that usually fuels me with excitement when I begin the assignment or journey. Please keep me from seeking early retirement.