In Joshua 17 we find Joshua assigning land to the twelve tribes of Israel, portioning out Canaan like a giant milk and honey pie, some pieces bigger than others, some with more icing, some with more crust, a few with burned edges.
In this particular chapter, Manasseh confronts Joshua about their too-small piece. They say, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”
Joshua responds by offering some unclaimed forrest land currently inhabited by Canaanites.
Manasseh balks at the offer, says they don’t have the means to take the land.
But Joshua doesn’t budge. He says, “You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”
I think of this story every time I survey the map of my inheritance and find it lacking, when I ask God to give me more of something—more money, more talent, more patience, more wisdom.
Sometimes God says, “Sure.” Most of the time God says, “Fight for it.”
I like the first answer better.
Tonight I’m asking God for more, and I know He’s gonna tell me to fight for it.
Can I be honest with you? Sometimes I’m not sure it’s worth it. Fighting can be exhausting and boring and painful. I get pushed outside my comfort zone. I hurt. I whine.
Today a friend of mine said, “I don’t really want to go back to school, I just want the job.” And I laughed because that’s ridiculous and because that’s exactly how I feel all the time.
What I love about this passage isn’t that God tells Manasseh to fight for the gift (that’s the hard part), but that God tells them, “You can do it.”
You see, Manasseh doesn’t get a handout because they don’t need one. God has gifted them with all they require—you are numerous and very powerful—so He asks them to use what they’ve been given.
And this where it gets tricky for you and I.
Sometimes I pray for wisdom but avoid the wise people positioned around me.
Sometimes I pray for peace but cram my schedule like I’m playing Tetris.
Sometimes I pray I’d get a book published but don’t put in the hours to actually write the book.
Sometimes I pray I’d win a million dollar sweepstakes (yeah, I know…) while simultaneously squandering the money I have.
I ask God for more when He’s already given me the resources to get it, resources I’d see if I weren’t so lazy or cowardly, small-visioned or short-sighted.
My prayer is that you and I would do a better job than Manasseh did, that we’d “clear the land” so that “its farthest limits” would be ours.
Let’s stop waiting for a handout and start picking a fight.