Thursday, March 24, 2022

           How long?  That two-word question can keep us up at night and in a tizzy during the day.  Kids in a car ask how long the trip will be.  A patient may ask how long the surgery will last or how long the treatments will take.  A person facing a trial may openly ask how long will this last?  How long?  That is a biblical question too.  And it is a faith question.  In Israel’s conquest of Canaan led by Joshua, the people were a bit slow and lethargic in doing what God has tasked them with doing.  The land was theirs for the taking.  But Israel seemingly could not get that job done.  Finally, we read, “So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you?” (Joshua 18:3).  How long?
            We might ask ourselves the same question.  How long?  Perhaps you have a real sense that God is giving you a job to do or calling you to a place of service but you have been dragging your feet.  You have excuses as long as a football field.  Maybe you have promised God that you would serve, help, make a phone call or step up to meet a need but you still have not done that.  Let’s be honest...are you defined more by big talk or faithful service?  Talk, the cliché says, is cheap.  And it is.  We can make promises, claims and big statements all the time.  But follow through can often be lacking. 
            Perhaps today is the day of change.  The talk ends and the work begins.  Maybe these words you read serve as a wake-up call to get going.  God has given us a gospel message to share.  God has given us places and people that could use our time, service and attention.  God may have assigned you a place to work, volunteer, study or serve.  How well are you doing what God has given you to do?  Sadly, the people of Israel left a lot of blessings on the table by delaying and hesitating.  They lost forty years in the Promised Land because of their disobedience and senseless wandering.  Their slowness in taking the land frustrated both God and Joshua.  At the beginning of Joshua 18, there were still seven tribes who had not yet taken the land that God had chosen for them.  Imagine not taking your tax refund or refusing a sale price on a new set of tires.  Israel’s delays and hesitation had cost the people land that they could have taken, settled, planted on and developed for God’s glory and their own good. 
            We can easily leave blessings behind.  Our delays and empty promises can rob us of friendships and rewarding experiences that could easily feed our faith and spirits.  We could lament the situation and do little more than whine about it.  Or, better yet, we could make some changes.  We could leave behind a “how long?” way of life for a way that gets moving and gets active here and now.  Make each day your masterpiece.  Invest yourself wholeheartedly in the work, conversations, experiences and relationships of each day.  Allow God to use you here and now.  Allow God entry into your life here and now.  Act on the promises and commitments you make.  Make the changes you would like to see in your life.  Aim your life at the battle at hand—not the battles of yesterday or the battles that will come.  Take aim at what God has for you to do now.  May it not be said of us that we created a sense of “how long?” in those who know us.  May we not give God any occasion to ask us “how long?”  Delayed obedience is really disobedience.  It is important to execute and carry out what God has given us to do.  We write our legacies every day.  Take seriously what you are writing for others to read.  It was said of David, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed” (Acts 13:36).  May we serve the purposes of God in our generation and that begins now.  How long?  May the wait and delay be over!  Have a great Thursday!
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