Posted by Andrea
Read Genesis 11:1-8
I saw a casserole dish the other day that I fell in love with. It was so beautiful with it’s fluted edges in a cheery turquoise blue. I imagined setting it on the table filled with lasagna that would taste so much better because of the dish it was in. I imagined it holding fresh apple crisp ready to be so much more wonderful because of the container. And dishwasher safe! I fancied myself loading it into the dishwasher, smiling in satisfaction because together, the two of us had created a meal that fed and pleased our family. And it was on an amazing sale! Oh, how I love a good deal!
And it was sold out.
There was no way to get one. Not at that deal. Not in that wonderful color. I dreamed about it that night and checked on it for the next two mornings—just in case. It was bad. I give my kids such a hard time when they come down with a case of the “gimmes.” I don’t even take them down the toy aisle anymore. They want everything they see. Bendaroos, Pillow Pets (but really, who doesn’t want one of those), the Ab Circle pro—if only I were kidding. But here I was with my own nasty case of the gimmies. I was throwing a toddler sized tantrum because I couldn’t have what I needed so badly!!
Contentment is a tough concept for a lot of us. We love pretty things. Clothes, shoes, homes… And we are supposed to. God made a whole world full of pretty things for us to enjoy. Just as irritated as I get when my kids tell me they need the SuperHero Squad headquarters or life will not be worth living, I think God might get tired of our version of need. God is a generous giver of good gifts, but it takes the fun out of it when we beg.
Which brings me to the The Tower of Babel. This story has always made me wrinkle my forehead and wonder, “why would God do that?” God is good, God is just. But what did these guys do that was so wrong God had to intervene by mixing up their language?
They did two things wrong. First, they wanted to settle down. Second, they wanted to make a name for themselves. The second one seems reasonable. When the Ten Commandments finally got written down, the first rule is to have no other Gods. Making a name for ones-self would be elevating ones-self to god-like status, so the pride issue needed to be dealt with for sure.
Settling down doesn’t seem like it should be a wrong worth punishing though. We all want to settle down and have a comfortable home with nice things. Even animals want to make their homes cozy. Settling in seems to be a natural instinct. And it’s no wonder. God “put Adam IN the garden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15). There is no indication anywhere that God indented for his people to need or want to leave the safety and security found in the paradise he created for them. He provided them with paradise from the beginning, so there was no need to wander elsewhere.
Then Eve ate the fruit and ever since, God’s instructions, ever since, have been “MOVE.”
God told Noah after the flood, “fill the whole earth” (Gen 9:1). Which he and his offspring did until they decided build a city “that they not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11:4). Despite God’s clear instructions to the contrary, they began to settle in.
God didn’t sit up there on his throne and think, “I went and made them too clever. If I don’t do something, they are going to take over my job.” He saw what his people were doing and knew their plan wouldn’t work with his, so he made a way for his work to be done instead. The result: he “scattered them from there over the whole earth.” (11:8).
God promised Abraham a place to settle—the Promised Land. But he had to get up and move in order to get there. A few generations later, they packed up and left again. To Egypt this time, so they would survive the famine. But rather than moving on at the first available opportunity, they put down roots in the form of houses made of mud and clay and stuck around until they were enslaved for 400 years.
God sent Moses to deliver them (read, get them moving again). This time they had to wander the dessert for 40 years.
Over and over God uses movement to make a point: This is not our home. He has something better planned for us. We can fight him on this and make him resort to drastic measures to force us out of complacency, or like Abraham, we can pack our bags and follow him.
Once I figured out that I was having a major contentment issue, I chose to give up the casserole dish. The thing is not obsolete and there are others out there that would be reasonable substitutes. Bringing something to which I attached that high of emotional value into my home would be building my own tower of Bable. My way of demanding that I be comfortable over God’s desire that I keep my focus on his plan.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life” in paradise, perfect comfort, forever.