In the second chapter of Deuteronomy:
Then the LORD said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.'” The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
He goes on to say similar things about two other people groups.
Then in Deuteronomy 2:13:
Moses continued, “Then the LORD said to us, ‘Get moving. Cross the Zered Brook.’ So we crossed the brook.” (New Living Translation)
So what, right? Well, I think there is a “so what” to it. I think there is a message here. Let’s bring it home…make it a little more personal. Let’s try it like this.
These people are afraid of YOU. THEIR insecurity is a danger to you. Don’t mess with them. Be normal, do what you would normally do. They have reason to be insecure…they’ve got some personal baggage…but don’t play into their insecurities. You have no need to play into their insecurities. I have taken care of you. You don’t need anything from them that I have not provided.
There is a theoretical orientation for counseling practice called “Internal Family Systems”. Although those who have spent years studying under this theory would likely be appalled at my oversimplification the orientation is precisely what it says it is. INTERNAL. FAMILY. SYSTEMS.
Stay with me here.
Over the course of our growing up years we internalize the systems of our family. We internalize the voices we hear on a day-to-day basis until we have our own little “family” inside of us.
Oh, come on…you know this is true! Don’t act like I am crazy. You totally have a little group of people in your head.
Have you ever found yourself beating yourself up verbally only to realize that this voice you are using sounds just like old Uncle Todd?
Or how about when you start whining and getting all anxious to only realize that this voice sounds like nervous Grandma Jane?
We learn to talk to our self and relate to our self by how others related to us and through experiences we encounter along the way.
Sometimes this is very, very good. We learn to be patient with ourselves because we had a mother or father who was gracious and forgiving.
We learn to give ourselves a kick in the pants because we had a caregiver who said: “That’s enough of that. Pick yourself up and keep going.”
Sometimes these voices provide wisdom and spending time “sitting” with them and trying to understand them and their needs without letting them take over your decisions is a very, very good thing.
Sometimes these voices or characters in our heads are not a person in particular, but a certain age in our past.
Oh, come on…you know this is true! Don’t act like I am crazy. You totally have a teenager inside of you. And a three year old. And a know it all nine year old. Come on now.
Have you ever found yourself questioning every little decision you are making…with a sort of sarcastic edge to it?
Um, were you ever like that as a teenager?
Have you ever found yourself questioning every little decision…with a sort of anxious edge to it?
What age would that be?
Not all of our internal cast of characters will be similar. It greatly depends on what you were like and what you were going through at a certain age.
I was very insecure and desperate for approval as a twelve year old and so my twelve-year-old voice would be very cautious and afraid of what my peers thought of me.
Go back up to that section of scripture. This time read it in this context. You are making a decision. You are about to make a move. It might be a career move, an emotional stand against a long time fear, or a decision to let go of an addiction.
You are about to make a major shift in your directions (“You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.”)
As you make your move, as you journey to that Christ-centered part of you who is ready to make this leap of faith, you pass through the sections of your mind that are still occupied by a various cast of characters making their voices known (“You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. “)
These internal parts have their reason…their own baggage…but they are afraid for you. That twelve year old is afraid you might make a fool of yourself like you did in the cafeteria way back when. She will do ANYTHING to keep that from happening again…including sabotage your leap of faith.
She forgets that you are no longer that 12-year-old little girl anymore.
You are an empowered, Christ centered, Christ-led adult.
That teenager who had to take care of everything at home when your mom or dad was too strung out or working too hard to help is still angry and will do ANYTHING to keep you from having to work so hard again.
Including sarcastically poking fun at your newfound courage.
They mean well…but, they are AFRAID of you and for you…the centered, Christ led part of you that is a mature, courageous person and ready to go where God wants you to go…do what God has called you to do…be who God has called you to be.
God does not want you to spend too much time on “their land”.
He wants you to Get. Moving. (“Then the LORD said to us, ‘Get moving.’”)
So I ask you to prayerfully consider God’s challenge to you on this journey:
(paraphrased by me)
You have been wandering about long enough. Time to head in a certain direction. You are about to pass through the territory [of voices from the past] These people are afraid of YOU and for YOU. Their insecurity is a danger to you. Don’t mess with them. Be normal, do what you would normally do. They have reason to be insecure, but don’t play into their insecurities. You have no need to play into their insecurities. I have taken care of you. You don’t need anything from them that I have not provided.