Sunday's sermon was on material from Joshua and was discussing the work that God wants to do in us before He does things for us. I found myself comparing my current path with that of Israel. Joshua 5 finds Israel having crossed into the Promised Land, but they have not yet taken hold of it. After they cross the Jordan, God calls for the men to be circumcised. They obey and find themselves need to rest, wait, and heal before they can move into the Promised Land and take control of that which God has promised them and led them towards for so long.
I imagine their frustration. There they were, in the land God had promised, having followed Joshua as the Lord commanded. The dream, the promise, is RIGHT there, waiting for them. They can literally see it and they know that it will be theirs, but it isn't immediate. God says to them, "Wait just a moment. There is still work to be done in you before I can give you what I have promised you." I imagine their bewilderment. Hadn't they done all God had asked? Hadn't they wandered as He led them for 40 years? Why must they wait any longer? What is the purpose of bringing them so close, only to ask them to keep waiting?
I defended my Master's thesis last Wednesday. It was much more emotionally challenging than I expected, but I persevered, and I experienced success thanks to God's provision. I thought I had reached my current version of the Promised Land. God has been nudging and prodding me for months to finish the thesis, get the degree, and move on to what He wants me to do next. I have been following His leading, putting one foot in front of the other to get closer to the new place He is calling me. Now, here I am, finished with what I thought would be the hardest part of this journey, and life isn't any easier today than it was last Tuesday. Just as reaching the Promised Land didn't mean God didn't have work to do in the hearts of Israel, reaching the milestone I've worked towards for so long hasn't meant God was finished doing work in me.
Instead, reaching my milestone has simply stripped away all the things distracting me from God. God has said "Trust me, I have a good plan for you. Finish this work and I'll give you new work to do." However, He is now making it clear that there are things He wants to do in me before we really move into this next phase of my life. He is teaching me reliance. He is teaching me to find my identity and freedom in Him. He is teaching me that what I need is dependence, not independence. He is teaching me the value of surrender and submission. There is more to be done in me before God can do things through me. I am looking to see what I might still have to learn before I can take hold of that which God intends for me.
What do you do when your goal is so close, and yet still so out of reach?
Psalm 27: 13
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living