“And Moses said to Korah, ‘Hear now, you sons of Levi: is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the Lord and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also?'” Numbers 16:8-10
Too small a thing . . . a group of people among the now-freed slaves of Egypt, the Israelites, had become discontented with their lot in life: it was no longer enough to be singled out among the hundreds of thousands to serve God in the daily work of worship in the tabernacle: they wanted more, and they were going after it.
What do you do when you are discontent and want more from life than you have?
I am not thinking about the routine planning for the future and the attendant hope within it that perhaps better and fuller days are ahead. I am asking about a sleepless quest of more for yourself, more of what someone else has . . . something that you believe you need . . . something you believe you deserve to have. . . but don’t.
Maybe even deserve to have more than the others? Have it when?
I have been there.
The people problems in the passage above are several and deep. The family of Levi had been hand-selected by God to be His servants in the nation’s daily rhythms of worship. But over time, the whisper of a dangerous envy began to grow in their minds. They watched as God spoke to Moses directly and how Moses took his direction from these exchanges. From this personal interaction, Moses would instruct the nation, giving them practical steps in daily living.
“Why only him?” they thought.
And this is where the trouble brewed.
Living close to the tabernacle, but not allowed within it, hearing the thundering Presence, but not perceiving its word, seeing the reverence shown to Moses by the people, but not sharing in it themselves, the Levites had had enough: they gathered together as a large group to confront Moses and take what they want: equal status among the people and with God.
In their eyes, what they saw as a lack-luster assignment as servants was, “too small a thing.”
They wanted more . . . believed they deserved more, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get it.
For them, this approach ended badly.
It will for us, too.
Have you ever felt that your life was “too small a thing?”
When we have a name few people know, when we live on a street we didn’t choose, when our pulse beats with half-hearted passions, when the boundaries of our capacities are too-well defined, when tomorrow is too familiar and contentment is only a vapor of memory, we have questions to answer:
- Will it be God’s way or our way?
- Will we ask Him first for what we want and trust in His providence?
- Will we create our own path and power it with our own wisdom, to the exclusion of His direction or participation and timing?
- Will we clutch and grab for esteem and purpose or gratefully receive a day’s grace for a day’s need?
Tied deeply to our identity, these are not easy but, rather, daily questions with daily choices, choices that impact ourselves, our friends. . . this world and the next.
So we need to be careful and give rebellion a face.
Choosing to be content with the day is not the focused acceptance through gritted teeth of what we believe is second-best or the leftovers from God. It isn’t the resolve to act satisfied with life when clearly we are not. In fact, it hasn’t much to do with us.
Choosing to be content is trusting that God is aware enough, good enough and willing enough to take care of us. We can talk with Him about the details of our day, our families, our dreams, our sin, our doubt, and know that He will provide in perfect love for us, on time, every time.
The heart of contentment is in our choice to obey.
It is acknowledging God’s ownership of our very being and destiny.
. . . and that’s no small thing.
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-22