For the week of February 24, 2001 / 1 Adar 5761
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 21:1 - 24:18 and
Bemidbar / Numbers 28:9-15 (Rosh Hodesh),
also Shemot / Exodus 30:11-16 (Shekalim)
Haftarah: Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26,
replaced by 2 Kings 12:1-17 (Shekalim),
also Isaiah 66:1,24 (Rosh Hodesh)

Little by Little

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 (Shemot / Exodus 23:29,30).

Time is my enemy. It makes me wait for things. I prefer immediate results. Now I know that process is important. I am just impatient. Living life is a challenge for me. My desire for instant results tends to conflict with the harsh reality of time. Most things take time. Some things take a long time.

My understanding of God tends to confuse my understanding of time and the need for process. One of the main aspects of a miracle is the skirting of normal processes. For example most illnesses and injuries heal over time. We think if God gets involved, then healing would be instantaneous. If the sickness heals over time, we consider that as normal and that God had little to do with it. But is that right?

Another example: some of us who have pursued tasks out of a sense of God's leading, have been very disappointed as years go by without our seeing expected results. While the results may not be a good indicator of God's leading, we have a tendency to think that if God initiated it, success would be quick.

But that is not the case in the above passage. God purposely took his time in removing the peoples of Canaan from the Land. From his statement God could have allowed Israel to conquer the Land much more quickly, but to prevent it from having a negative effect on the Land, it was necessary to control the timing of the conquest.

Now if God was the one who was actually driving the peoples out of the Land, could he have not also prevented the Land's devastation? Theoretically he could have, but God values process. He understands that it is often necessary to develop things over time. We are not always aware of what is happening through a process, or what could happen if the process is averted or shortened, but God knows.

When things don't happen as quickly as we wish, we doubt that God really cares. But in this instance, God's timing is derived directly from his deep caring for his people.

Time is not our enemy when God is involved. In his hands time is a tool with which he works out his loving plans in our lives.

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