I was struck by the words, little by little, a few weeks ago after reading God’s disclosure to the Israelites on how they would obtain the land He had promised them from their enemies. He informed them He would not drive their enemies out in a single year. Instead, they would be driven out little by little until the Israelites had increased and were strong enough to take possession of the land. (Exodus 23:29-30, emphasis mine).
Unfortunately, I actually don’t often have the patience for the little by little. If something needs to be driven out – I’d prefer it be done immediately. Not little by little. I get tired of fighting the thing. If change is going to happen, let’s change it - now! In our younger, less-than-wise years, Pat and I blew a few budgets rather than following the little-by-little route. Go big or go home, right? That’s always been my motto.
Well, not always – at least not anymore. After a few failed budgets and the consequences that come from overspending, we’ve decided little by little is more than enough for us. I no longer strive in my own strength to drive the thing out and make change happen in my time. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’d still like it to. Like a good student, I’ve learned nothing lasts if the Lord’s not in it. So now I wait. Not always very patiently, but I have learned to wait. I know He has His reasons. He has them for me just like He did for the Israelites. And He has a promise for me just like He had one planned for them. But why does He make us wait? Why? Especially when we know what we want?
One of the reasons He allowed the Israelites to possess the land little by little was because He understood the importance of their need to “increase and be strong enough to take possession of the land”(vs. 23). It doesn’t do any of us any good to possess something we aren’t strong enough to handle, does it? We must fight to overcome the lie that makes us assume we are capable of supporting something He says we are not yet ready for. Impatience can be blinding.
He told them, “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you” (vs.29, AMP). He knew what would happen to the land if He drove the enemies out all at once – they wouldn’t be able to maintain it properly. I’ve seen the same outcome in my own life when I’ve felt I was strong enough to take possession of that which I believed I was ready for but I couldn’t maintain it properly and it fell apart in my care. Impatience can be deceiving.
Though the Israelites may have assumed they were ready to possess the land God had promised quickly and with little or no effort, He knew that even in obtaining the land – little by little – they were going to have to fight for it. While it is true that every good and perfect gift is from above, effort leads to appreciation (James 1:17). Impatience can lead to ingratitude.
Unfortunately, when that which you long for progresses little by little, the fight often gives way to discouragement and the belief it will never happen. And the temptation to give up becomes greater than the patience to wait it out. But, some things are worth fighting for. Some situations take hard work to conquer but you’re only going to conquer them in Israelites fashion – little by little.
Every relationship has little by little opportunities when...
little by little family relationships are shattered
little by little friendships deteriorate
little by little marriages weaken
Everyone has little by little moments when…
little by little finances shrink
little by little weight is gained
little by little habits change
little by little health declines
Every day has little by little moments when…
little by little irritations begin to change your mood.
little by little failure begins to swallow your confidence
little by little emotions are stuffed until you erupt like a volcano
little by little you allow negative remarks to remake you into someone unrecognizable
Yet when you don’t pay attention to the deception of the little by little, the possibilities become endless of what you can possess when you work it out according to God’s plan of action. You’re likely to watch as…
little by little family relationships are strengthened
little by little friendships deepen
little by little marriages rebound
little by little finances enlarge
little by little weight is lost
little by little habits change for the better
little by little health improves
little by little irritations are no longer allowed to control your mood
little by little failure builds confidence as you wait for God’s best
little by little emotions are dealt with through healthy communication
little by little you no longer allow the opinions of others to define you
God had stipulations the Israelites would need to meet before they would possess the land and it would take them much longer than a year to do so – so don’t grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). Just like they’d need to wait until He knew they were strong enough to handle the responsibility, so will we. Change rarely happens overnight, right? What we really need to decide is whether or not we are willing to surrender to His standard and timetable to obtain that which we are waiting to possess. If so, keep building your strength and endurance. Then watch as, little by little, God works in you to change your identity – one letter at a time – into someone who chooses to trust Him to bring you into the promised land at just the right time.
H-Hopeful in the little by little