Journal entry 041912: The Lord’s inheritance

One night last March, while I was laying in my Hennessy Hammock, near Little Creek in the Gila Wilderness of western New Mexico, I read about God’s instructions to Israel. He was telling them how to divide the Promised Land among the twelve tribes. In Joshua 18:7, it says, “The Levites, however did not get a portion among you because the priestly service of the Lord is their inheritance.”

All the other tribes received a specific region, so they could establish their own homeland, observe their own customs, and create their own wealth. But the Levites did not get a portion.

They weren’t left destitute. God took care of them, giving them certain cities scattered among the other tribes, but they did not have a specific allotment of land. They couldn’t accumulate wealth. They would be mostly dependent on the people who lived around them.

I wrote in the margin of my Bible, “Were the Levites satisfied with that? Was the Lord’s inheritance enough?”

Were they OK living with the Lord’s inheritance even while those around them got vast lands with big success? Were they comfortable when their kids hung out with the other kids who had cooler toys? Were they satisfied parking their cheapo cars beside everyone else’s luxury SUVs? Was the Lord’s inheritance enough?

The next morning in the Gila Wilderness, over Paul’s campfire biscuits, I asked my fellow backpackers, “Is the Lord’s inheritance enough for each of us? Are you happy doing what God has given you to do and with his providence, while people around you get so much more?

I thought about the first century preacher, Stephen, who was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. For him, the Lord’s inheritance was a painful death. Was that enough? It’s easy for me to say “yes,” his death was worth it, but would Stephen agree? It was his death that set up the Apostle Paul’s grand conversion on the road to Damascus, and Paul literally changed the world with his preaching, and still changes lives with his writing. Did that make Stephen’s short life worth it?

A couple of weeks ago my Uncle James was visiting in Midland, and he asked me the current pay scale for consulting petroleum engineers. I told him, “To tell the truth, I’m embarrassed it is so high. I’m not sure I deserve what they are paying.”

I continued, “Don’t get me wrong, I take the money and do the work. I’m not stupid. I still remember times when no one wanted to pay petroleum engineers anything at all.”

How does that square with being satisfied? In the context of the greater good for mankind, I cannot justify earning as much in three days as my wife, Cyndi, an excellent elementary school teacher with 25 years of experience, earns in a month. Surely bringing grace to the lives of 5th-graders and their parents has more value than finding oil. Is she happy with the Lord’s inheritance?

As a writer, am I satisfied with the Lord’s inheritance? Is it acceptable to be ambitious, to try harder, or to want more? Must I be content with the inheritance I have right now, or can I strive for more? Am I supposed to be satisfied if I never have more than 100 readers who listen and believe what I write, even while other writers have thousands? And how does that square with those words I heard from God while at a Wild at Heart camp, when he spoke clearly to me about writing, telling me, in effect, “Berry, you don’t realize how big it is.” After that experience, I feel obligated to have big goals. Still, I feel awkward praying for great success.

Rick Warren said, “We are responsible for the depth of our ministry; God is responsible for the width.” Maybe that is the secret to balancing our satisfaction with the Lord’s inheritance with our natural ambition and future dreams. We should focus on growing deeper, and let God handle the width; we must use and develop the gifts God has given us, and let him determine the size of our inheritance.

Question: How about you? Are you satisfied with the Lord’s inheritance, or is it a struggle?


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


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