Tag Archives: Numbers 2

An Executable Plan

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”
Numbers 2:1-2 (NIV)

If you want something organized and done well, put my wife Wendy in charge of it. I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. I have been married to this woman for nearly twelve years, and from our New Year’s Eve gala wedding to countless weekend trips to the lake, from running a box office to a successful string of community theatre awards dinners, she is gifted when it comes to organization, planning and execution of a plan.

I thought about Wendy in the quiet this morning as I waded through the second chapter of Numbers, which had all the excitement of an army field manual. In essence, that’s what it was. The Hebrew tribes had no home. They were about to embark on a giant, traveling encampment with over 600,000 able-bodied fighting men, their wives, their elders, their children, their big-top Tabernacle, and livestock to boot. Talk about an organizational nightmare.

Along this life journey I’ve come to realize that people eventually tend to admire, or to shun, those gifts and abilities that run opposite theirs. Unlike my ezer kenegdo, Wendy, I am a big picture, take-it-as-it-comes, go-with-the-flow kind of guy. When Wendy starts making a meal plan for our weekend at the lake a week ahead of the trip, my natural bent is to roll my eyes and say, “Seriously?! Do we have to figure this out now? Can’t we just figure it out when we get there?

But, I’ve learned over time when you’re at the lake with two to four other adults and no plan, the conversation goes like this:

Person 1: “What are we doing for supper?”

Person 2: “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Person 1: “I don’t know. What about you, honey?”

Person 3: “I don’t care. Whatever you want to do.”

Person 1: “I don’t care either. It’s whatever you guys think. Right, dear?”

Person 4: “We could go out, or we could stay in.”

Person 1: “We went out last night.”

Person 4: “Which doesn’t mean we can’t go out again tonight.”

Person 1: “No, it doesn’t. I’m not saying that. We can go out, or stay in. What do you guys think?”

Person 2: “Whatever. We don’t care. We’re okay going out. Aren’t we, dear?”

Person 3: “Sure. Or staying in. Either way is fine with us.”

This conversation can go on in circles for hours, which is not only maddening but also squeezes out actual time having fun and enjoying meaningful conversation.

When Wendy starts asking about a meal plan a week before our trip to the lake, I choose in. I’m still not good about anticipating and initiating a plan on my own (but it’s a growth opportunity for me!) Things run more smoothly and everyone enjoys themselves more when there’s a well executed plan.

This morning I’m thinking about a boring chapter laying out an executable encampment plan for taking the population of the entire Des Moines area on a sustained wilderness march. Sometimes the message is not in the text but in the context. Life is full of daily, weekly, monthly and annual events which run more smoothly with an executable plan. The untold story of many of history’s greatest victories lies in the quartermasters and gifted planners who were able to successfully and efficiently move armies and supplies at the right time in the right way. That’s not my gift.

I’m reminded this morning of the blessing of peace and flow in life that exists only when you have a person with the giftedness and authority to anticipate need, create a workable plan, and execute that plan. I get to experience that blessing because I’m married to such a person.


Chapter-a-Day Numbers 2

vlag van de provincie Zuid Holland
Image by Gerard Stolk après Pentecôte via Flickr

The People of Israel did everything the way God commanded Moses: They camped under their respective flags; they marched by tribe with their ancestral familiesNumbers 2:34 (MSG)

My great-grandfather came to the United States around 1885. He was a young man and he travelled alone. This meant that my “tribe” got somewhat of a fresh start when he came to the U.S. From what I’ve been able to gather over the years, there was limited correspondence between my great-grandfather and his family remaining back in the Netherlands. My grandfather even visited his cousins in the Netherlands at one point, but then the link was then lost for a couple of generations. With the help of the internet, I found my cousin, John, about a decade ago and “tribal communication” across the Atlantic was restored.

I’ve heard it said “you can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with your family.” I’ve found it to be a true statement. Even if you do what my grandfather did to change the spelling of your name and move by yourself to a far away land, you still can’t escape your DNA. We are products of our family of origin. We can’t run away from that. In fact, looking back on the four generations of my family that have been born and raised in the United States, it seems as if the individualism which led my great-grandfather to strike out on his own and seperate from the tribe has perpetuated itself. There’s never been a family reunion. The extended members of our family rarely communicate. These are things that make me wonder.

I read today’s chapter and I picture the tribes of Jacob all camping under their respective tribal flags. Each group had to have behavioral and tribal characteristics as unique as the flags the flew above their camps. It’s genetic. It’s human. It’s the way things work.

The better I understand my tribe, the better I understand myself. The better I understand myself, the more I clearly I perceive character qualities in me which I need God’s help to change, and character qualities which I need God’s help to strengthen.

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