Friday, April 18, 2008

Settling on the East Side? Part 2

When I ended yesterday's post, I mentioned I was getting a little uncomfortable by all the messages I seemed to be getting about crossing the Jordan into my Promised Land of writing. I feel a definite need to stop striving so much and trying to compete with every other high-powered writer in the world, but was God trying to tell me to stop whining and go forward no matter what?

I picked up my Bible for the day's reading in Numbers 32, where the Israelites are finally preparing to cross the Jordan River and fight. Representatives of the tribes of Reuben and Gad came to Moses and said, "If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us land across the Jordan River."

Okay, now I was interested. Some of the Israelites were asking not to cross the Jordan, but to be given land where they already were?

Moses didn't seem too happy with their request. In fact, he blasted them. "'Do you mean you want to stay back here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?' Moses asked the Reubenites and Gadites. 'Are you trying to discourage the rest of the people of Israel from going across to the land the Lord has given them?'" Moses reminded them that their timid ancestors had done the exact same thing. They scounted out the Promised Land, got scared of the people living there, and decided to stay where they were. Moses warns the Reubenites and Gadites that the Lord was furious with those earlier scouts, and he'll be furious with them, too. (Numbers 32: 5-10, NLT)

Uh-oh. So was the the Lord furious with me for my timidity, my lack of energy? Gulp.

Part of my quandary as I've been praying about my writing is that I set out with this blog to try to encourage other writers and dreamers who might be having a hard time hanging in there and completing their journeys. So if I admit I need to slow down, or that I can't keep up a certain writing pace, will I discourage everyone else? If completing the journey to the Promised Land was becoming God's message to me about staying the course, these verses seemed to make that a very real possibility--that I might be discouraging folks instead of encouraging them.

But then I read further.

The people of Gad and Reuben protested to Moses. "We simply want to build sheepfolds for our flocks and fortified cities for our wives and children. Then we will arm ourselves and lead our fellow Israelites into battle until we have brought them safely to their inheritance...But we do not want any of the land on the other side of the Jordan. We would rather live here on the east side."

They weren't out to discourage or desert their brothers. They planned to fight with them and stay the course. But they had a feeling their inheritance from God was going to be a little different. And when Moses heard that, he calmed down. He thought their request was reasonable and granted it.

I never remember reading this before or hearing it in sermons or in all those other places about crossing the Jordan--that some of the Israelites asked for and received an inheritance on the near side of the Jordan.(v. 16-19)

What exactly does this mean for me as I try to figure out what I'm supposed to do? I'm still praying and pondering, but for now, I've drawn a few things from this:

God does have a promise for me, a destination. Something I'm supposed to achieve.

I am not supposed to give up, wallow in doubt, and quit--thereby discouraging everyone else who's on this difficult writing journey.

On the other hand, it may be all right for me to show that there's more than one way to do things. More than one destination ahead of us. I put a lot of pressure on myself when I try to be just like everyone else in my huge online writers' group. When I try to turn out just as many manuscripts as they do, and go to all the conferences, and write a blog, and read writing books, and think of nothing but how I will discipline myself and publish. No matter what.

But all our lives are different. The stresses and demands, the amount of energy we have, all of it.

God has a promised land for each and every one of us. But we won't necessarily end up in the exact same spot.