Patient Obedience

“As the LORD had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua. And Joshua did as he was told, carefully obeying all the commands that the LORD had given to Moses.” Joshua 11:15

Claiming the land God had promised wasn’t an overnight accomplishment for the Israelites. The battles for each portion of land, north and south, continued for many years. The opposition from the pagans in the land grew in intensity. Numbers increased, as did the sophistication of their weaponry. Eventually they faced an overwhelming coalition of kings and their armies.

“All these kings came out to fight. Their combined armies formed a vast horde. And with all their horses and chariots, they covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore.” Joshua 11:4

Do you ever feel like everything is working against you? Do you have days when you wish you’d never gotten out of bed? You know, the kind of day when unexpected demands intrude on your day before you’ve had time with the LORD, before you’ve had a “cuppa” something hot or even had time to check your calendar for activities already scheduled? You feel as though there isn’t enough of “You” to deal with all the needs calling your name. Everything that can go wrong manages to do it before lunchtime. Overwhelming problems “cover your landscape like the sand on the seashore.”

Joshua looked at his problem and I think he consulted the LORD. Why do I think that? Because the LORD spoke to him.

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.’. . .And the LORD gave them victory over their enemies. . .Then Joshua crippled the horses and burned all the chariots, as the LORD had instructed.” Joshua 11:6, 8a, 9

As we live the days of our lives, God will allow tests to pop up. They will be tests designed to bring us to the point of surrendering our own strength to His power, our will to His. When we seek the LORD for His conclusion, He will give us success and strengthen our faith.

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” James 4:8a

Ever practical, James goes on to pinpoint what is often the root of the problem we are facing when obstacles rise up and overwhelm us.

“Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:8b

When our world is threatening to come apart, we need to come close to God. That means we need to humble ourselves--take the “ME” out of the equation--and trust God to receive our petition and act on it…in His time and in His way.

“Humble yourselves before the LORD, and He will lift you up in honor.” James 4:10

We need to cultivate patience in waiting on the LORD. Obey Him in what we know to do. Our Pastor has exhorted us: “until you know what to do, keep doing what you know.”

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the LORD. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36

When Joshua obtained the victory, he was to hamstring the enemy’s horses and destroy their chariots. There’s something in us that immediately cringes at the thought of hamstringing the horses.

Ancient battle tactics reveal the practice of cutting the hamstring tendons in the rear legs of horses, rendering the animal useless to be used again in war. For the Israelites, who were admonished by God to refrain from adding to themselves horses (Deuteronomy 17:16), it was a caution against trusting in what they could see--returning to Egypt and trusting in their own efforts and strength-- rather than trusting in the LORD God to deliver them.

Trust in the LORD is the key to patient obedience. We are to hamstring the things that take the place of our trusting in Him—cut the power from whatever we are relying on that keeps us from turning to Him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Heavenly Father, may we choose to trust in You with all our hearts. May we acknowledge You as LORD, and see as You direct our paths.

by Marilyn Allison