For forty years, the children of Israel wandered in the desert, and here, on the brink of entering the Promised Land, a group decided they don’t want to continue the journey. After viewing the land they had just conquered, the two tribes agreed that where they were at present was good enough.
Good enough. Oh, how those words must break the heart of our loving Father who longs for His children to have the very best. So, why do we do it? Why do we repeatedly settle for less than what God wants us to possess? I have a few ideas.
1. It’s easier.
Let’s face it, good enough is much easier to accomplish than God’s best. As far as the tribes of Reuben and Gad were concerned, it made sense to them to stay put. The land was beautiful and good for cattle. The enemy had already been driven out. No more warring. No more wandering. Nope, they were ready to settle down and say, “Enough is enough.” Likewise, we often opt for what is easier over what is better simply because we don’t want to put forth the effort to attain God’s best.
2. It’s quicker.
If the tribes stayed where they were at the time, they were home. No more waiting for the land that seemed too good to be true. We hate to wait, don’t we? The old saying is “Good things take time,” and that’s very much the case in our lives. Sure, we could settle for the spouse, job, home, or ministry that’s good enough, but how much better off would we be if we waited for God’s best? I often wonder how many people, weary of the wait, have settled for good enough only to regret it later.
3. It’s less risky.
Waiting for God’s best involves risk. For the children of Israel, it meant trusting that the land to which they were heading was indeed wonderful and plentiful. They had to trust God enough to believe it was worth the work and the wait, and evidently, this crowd didn’t. Do we? Are we willing to work and wait for God’s best when it involves risk and even change? Do we believe God enough to put everything out there, holding nothing back? I fear we often cower in the face of making changes and taking risks and decide that where we are—even though it isn’t where we long to be—is good enough. We don’t trust God enough for us to leave the comfort and pleasure of now for what is waiting in the future. So, we settle.
Later in the Scripture and other historical texts, we see where this decision of the two tribes (and half of the tribe of Manasseh who joined them) backfired. While the land was lovely and perfect for their needs, it left them exposed to the enemies surrounding them. Had they crossed the Jordan River with the rest of their people, the river itself would have acted as a protective barrier against those who would seek to destroy them. Instead, they were an easy target for all who decided they wanted the land.
Not only that but in settling for less than what God had promised them, they were separated from the very presence of God. During that time, God manifested His presence in the Tabernacle, which went across the river along with the majority of the children of Israel. Without access to it, these two-and-a-half tribes were cut off from hearing from God and offering sacrifices to Him. When we settle for good enough, we will often find ourselves separated from God in the sense that something is hindering our communication and fellowship with Him. He is urging us to go forward and claim the prize He has for us rather than to be content with less.
Yes, settling for less than God’s best is easier, quicker, and less risky, but I can tell you, without a doubt, it’s not better. Good enough will never satisfy. We will always long for more, forever wondering what could have been if we had put forth the time and effort to seek God’s best instead of settling for things on this side of the river. No one ever regrets seeking God’s best, and God promises if we will seek, we will find.