The Christian life is a balance between what God does and what we do. Of course, our work is in response to his work—we don’t work to get God to do anything; he has already done everything, and our effort is always what is right and fitting because of his gracious acting on our behalf. We have a covenantal partnership with God, and each plays a role in order to live out the covenant. God has worked in what we must work out.
Going Deep // Focus: Joshua 16:5-6,10
Now that the land was under Israelite control, the entire community of Israel gathered at Shiloh and set up the Tabernacle. But there remained seven tribes who had not yet been allotted their grants of land. Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?
Perhaps what you are waiting on from God is waiting for you to do what God is waiting for from you. Wait! What? Wait? I know, it sounds a bit convoluted, but simply put, sometimes we are waiting when we should be working. God has done his part, but we haven’t done ours, and so the answers to our prayers are delayed.
The Christian life is a balance between what God does and what we do. Of course, our work is in response to his work—we don’t work to get God to do anything; he has already done everything, and our effort is always what is right and fitting because of his gracious acting on our behalf. We have a covenantal partnership with God, and each plays a role in order to live out the covenant. Or as Paul puts it in Philippians 2:12-13,
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
We must work out what God has worked. But so often we wait for God to do what he has already done. We misunderstand our responsibility in the partnership, or we avoid it because of spiritual laziness, or we are irresponsible, or frankly, maybe we are in rebellion against God, and we are simply not carrying our weight in the deal. Whatever the case may be, God will not do what we are to do. God will do what we can’t, but he will never do what we won’t.
Now in Israel’s case, God had promised them the land of Canaan as their home. He had brought them through 400 years of slavery in Egypt and through forty years of wandering in the desert to the edge of their new homeland. He had gone before them and had driven out their enemies. He had guaranteed their victory. But he had also called them to cross the Jordan into the land. He expected them to fight their enemies, drive them out and take possession of the cities and farmland the Canaanites left behind. He had been clear that they were to stay at it until the task was complete. Yet after more years than they needed, the work was incomplete. They had not done what they were supposed to do in response to what God had already done. So Joshua called them out on it.
I suppose all of this makes sense to you, and that you agree with it in principle—that God plays a part and we play a part. But I also suspect this is a bit vague as it relates to your life specifically. So the challenge I have for you in response to this chapter is to do some hard thinking about where you may be waiting on the God who is waiting on you to do your part. What does that look like for you? Where do you need to step up and get after it? What promises are unclaimed in your life, and the constraint is not God, it is you?
Tough questions, but let me encourage you to get after it. The effort will be well worth it, and besides, God has already done his part. The victory is already yours. So why wait any longer? Let me give you a verse from another section of scripture that applies to what I am asking you to do:
Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly.” (1 Chronicles 28:20, LB)
Be bold and get after it—God is waiting on you!