Deuteronomy 2:5 “Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on” (NIV).

Observation: Israel had begun their desert wanderings under God’s specific direction. In Deuteronomy 2:4, He had said they were about to pass through the territory He had given to Esau’s descendents. Even though the Esau-ites would fear Israel, the Hebrews were to pay a fair price in silver for any food or water they needed. Finally, thirty-eight years later, God repeated the same theme regarding land He gave to the descendents of Lot (v. 19).

Application: Who among us has not heard the plaintive question from the back seat, “Are we there yet”? Apparently the Hebrews didn’t have the foresight to outfit the second hump of their camels with DVD players. Such an immature question communicates that we have entered unfamiliar territory. So our destination could just as well be around the next corner as forty years away. Doesn’t the first trip over new ground always seem longest? 

The wearying question comes from a child with no perspective as to time or space. From the confines of a car seat, a three-year-old brain accepts one place as being as good as the next. Why couldn’t “here” be as satisfying as Cleveland? Also, the question conveys limited understanding of the full rigors of the road yet ahead. God apparently anticipated childlike tendencies of the wandering Jews. Whether their trip had just begun or they were a road-weary thirty-eight years along, He knew He must repeatedly warn them against seizing second best. 

How like those Hebrews am I! God intends a certain prize for me; in fact, Paul wrote about pressing on “to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward” (Phil. 3:14). God will not allow my impatience or lack of vision to settle for anything less than the perfect place He has prepared for me—a place of security and safety snuggled warmly next to His heart. Obstacles may present themselves, challenges may arise, and rest stops may be necessary, but He will not countenance my stopping until I have reached the place He had in mind for me all along.

There is joy in such a journey if I will but understand it has been tailored by the mind of God specifically for me. There may be some aimless wandering along the way; I may come upon invitingly weak fences that tempt me to cross over into “pretty good” land. But pretty good is never His best. In the words of Dennis Jernigan’s magnificent song, He wants me “right next to His heart, face to face.”

Prayer: O Father, how I long to rest in Your strong arms at last. Thank You for the unsettling perspective that comes from lingering too long in a place of second best. Stir me, Lord, to press on toward perfect intimacy in You.