So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?”
~Joshua 18:3, ESV
Some phrases lodge in my brain and remain there for hours, days, or even years. That happened this morning as I was reading the Old Testament book of Joshua. The question above seemed to be directed to me and, thus, has lingered in my mind for hours and has prompted me to share it with you in case it’s a question you, too, need to answer.
Like God’s people in that ancient story, I’ve wasted many precious years “preparing” to do what God wants me to do. I tell myself, “One day I’ll be ready to take the big step and do great things for Him. I just need to learn a bit more and to opt out of some lesser commitments so that I will have time to obey Him.”
That's why I sensed God was asking me the same question Joshua asked. God has been extraordinarily patient with me, as He was with the Israelites, and has provided all that I could possibly need to do what He has asked me to do. Yet, I hang back, begging for more time to prepare in order to do my best for Him. I realize now that my fear has been holding me back, just as it held the Israelites back. That fear has another name, a much more serious one: unbelief. I have not fully believed that the One who assigned me a particular work will enable me to do it.
Today, I sense God is “putting it to me plain” by asking, “How much longer are you going to put off doing what I’ve asked you to do? How much longer are you going to come so close to full commitment to the work I’ve given you, yet fail to step out in faith and DO the work? How much longer are you going to let fear/unbelief rob you of the blessings I have in store for you?”
Father, forgive my lack of trust in You and my failure to carry out the work You’ve entrusted to me. I confess my sins of unbelief and disobedience and humbly ask You to forgive me and to help me to fully enter into the work and its subsequent blessings—beginning today. From this day forward, I will rely on this promise You made to Joshua when You assigned to him a daunting task: Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, ESV).