"I just want to be done with it."
I've said those words so many times. When I am reminded of a sin struggle that seems to drag on and on, it's all I can think to say: I just want to be done with it. I often feel at a loss to understand why God doesn't pull us out of battles against sin when we are pleading with him. I don't understand why some things seem to show back up at my door no matter how many times I have tried to slam and lock it, perhaps even change my address. Leave me in loss, leave me in challenge, leave me in need...ok, that seems hard but perhaps more understandable. But leave me floudering against sin? I just don't always get that part.
Recently I came face to face with an old struggle, probably among the top 3 "just want to be done with it"s in my life. I was frustrated and discouraged. Then I did my homework. I did my Pentateuch homework, that is, reading Exodus for the sake of answering a bunch of questions. I was probably avoiding thinking about my struggles, honestly. Still, there in the middle of a task that wasn't much about looking for life lessons, God chose to speak. He chose to speak directly to the heart of me, to the place that was begging to be done with the battle against sin.
As God is preparing his people to enter the Promised Land, he says these words:
"I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. " (Exodus 23:27-30)
The same basic words are actually repeated later in Deuteronomy. Apparently, it has been the human condition for a long time now, this wanting to have victory and to be done with the battle ASAP. God knew that the Israelites were probably expecting (or at least hoping for) him to step in and wipe out all obstacles as soon as they set foot in the land. So he graciously tells them ahead of time: "I'm not going to do this as quickly as you'd like me to. This might seem like a long battle at times. You're probably going to feel like I'm not making good on my promises. But believe me, I alone know how strong you need to be before you can really take this land, and I will not set you up for disaster by giving it to you before you are ready." It brings to mind some words Jesus spoke once: "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Take heart, though the troubles will be persistent. Take heart, because I am the victor in the end. It reminds me, too, of a Proverb: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."
I often look out at the enemies I must go up against to conquer the land, and I feel small and weary. Sometimes I do feel like maybe God isn't making good on his promises. But then, perhaps I didn't hear those promises quite right: "Katie, I have good, good land to give you. I have blessings and freedom in store. But I want you to know that the battle will seem long sometimes. I want you to trust me to make you ready."
That promise gives me hope. It makes me want to seek him even when the battle seems to be taking forever, so that he can do whatever work must be done to make me ready to claim that good land. I want to let him make me ready for the amazing and loving plans he has in store. It doesn't always make sense. I most certainly don't always like it. But I need to trust that this little by little will someday bring me home.