It had been 2, long, incredible years. The adventure was feeling routine, the magnificent rather mundane and people were tired. They had come so far, escaped so much destruction…was it really worth risking everything to press on? This is the reality of Kadesh Barnea.
Moses had led a hoard of millions of refugees from under the dominion of the world’s singular superpower, across a hostile wilderness with the vision of a “promised land.” People had died along the away, lessons had been learned, and now the entire community could see what they had been waiting for – it was right over “there.” Kadesh Barnea is where Moses sent out the spies to scout out the land and plan their invasion. Kadesh Barnea is where the rescued Egyptian slaves told God “No, that’s alright. We’ve come far enough. It’s not worth it to us to risk going where you are taking us. I think we can take it from here. Your leadership is no longer required.” That place is where a 2 year journey of preparation was converted into a 40 year sentence in a desert penitentiary.
Kadesh Barnea may be unfamiliar words in your mental geography, but it is a very familiar place for all of us. Kadesh Barnea is a picture of when we settle for 90%, for almost there, for “better than it was, practically there, I could get used to this, I’ve been in worse, it’s a lot better than some have it or I had it growing up.” It’s comfortable compromise in the shade trees of our fears (failure, loss) and idols (mmmm Egyptian food, comfortable houses, a 401k, peace of mind).
Kadesh Barnea…get close enough, so far from what it was, “practically there” but without the risk. Settling for 90%. It’s pandemic. In marriages, in our followship of Jesus, in our leadership of teams, in attacking issues…we leave the last 10% because we just frankly wonder if it’s worth the sweat, risk of failure, and price tag. That 10% is the breeding ground for all kinds of rebellion, because it represents a me-centered decision matrix, a “on my terms, when I think it’s ‘worth’ it or ‘looks smart’ I will do something” territory. History shouts to us that despite the rationale of this thinking – it never, never turns out well! You don’t want a “close enough” mindset from your surgeon, accountant, NASA QA auditor, mechanic, pharmacist or construction worker. Why would we live our lives and faith that way?
Q: where are you camped out at Kadesh Barnea, aware of God calling you to take another step but resting on your “distance travelled thus far” and justifying the questionable ROI of proceeding?