It’s easy to get started on something we enjoy. For instance, I know a number of hobbies I’ve engaged in that were a blast to do when I first started. And initially I had a great time. But as I spent more and more time in the hobby, it became less and less fun. It became harder and harder work. I remember soccer and baseball both being this way. Now soccer and baseball were two sports I absolutely loved. So even when it became more work and less fun, I still practiced, I still did all of the things I needed to do to get better. But then I look at something like painting with watercolors. Initially it was a lot of fun. Especially since I had a teacher in 7th grade who was a professional artist and her specialty was watercolors. I learned a lot in a very short time and I was able to get some great results. But I then wanted to be able to do more. And that’s where the work vs. fun factor raised its ugly head. It was too much work and not enough fun for me. So I pretty much gave up the hobby. But what about things that are not hobbies? Are there things in our lives we need to accomplish but we’re not progressing on? I know something that’s staring me in the face right now. Except I haven’t really even gotten started. I know it’s something God wants me to do but I see a lot of work ahead. So I’ve been tentative. I’ve not put my full heart into it. That’s why when I read these words last night in Judges, they really hit home.
Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'”
When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD.
– Judges 2:1-5, NASB
God had given the Israelites a job to do. They were supposed to go into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, and drive out those who were there who would not believe in the Lord. They were supposed to go in, with no sense of compromise, and tear down the false altars they found there. Only the Israelites hadn’t. They had gotten somewhat into the land, but they never drove the inhabitants out. They had never purged the land of worship of anything other than God Himself. And God was coming back to them and saying, “Because you didn’t finish the job, you’re going to pay the price. Because you didn’t buckle down and get to work with what you were supposed to be doing, your laziness, fear, timidity, or whatever else it was is going to haunt you. I told you what to do and you didn’t obey me. Therefore, my assistance is withdrawn.”
I won’t debate the merits of God’s command except to say that if we believe that there is one God and that He is holy, perfect, just, and righteous in all of His ways, why would we expect any different a command than to stop the worship of anything or anyone other than Him? Especially to such a fickle people as the Israelites were at that time? But the point is, the Israelites had a job to do, and they hadn’t gotten it done. So God made it very clear that this enormous task that they needed to do they wouldn’t have His help on any longer.
And that’s a stern reminder to me and hopefully to all of us. There are things God has called us to do that we’re likely putting off. And we have our reasons. But if they aren’t God-given instructions to wait, then they are excuses. And the point is we want God’s help and we expect God’s help, but God’s help comes in His timing, not ours. So if we’re delaying on something He has called us to do, we are risking losing God’s help. And chances are if it’s something He has called us to do that we’re tentative on, we can’t do it without Him. Therefore, we need to respond quickly and get to the task we’ve put off. But there’s also a positive in there and that’s this: whatever it is God calls us to, He has His help already lined up. In other words, if He calls us to do something, we shouldn’t fear it. After all, God will be with us and will help us and provide for what is needed. That’s the way He works. We just have to get started. And when we do, God’s right there beside us. What an awesome God we serve!