by Bill Worrell
In our daily lives, there are a number of things we simply take for granted: appliances and productivity. And when it comes to appliances, do you ever buy new technology thinking, “This is it the ultimate! There’s no way anyone can improve on this design!” That’s how I used to feel about my VHS player. That’s also how I felt bout my Apple lap pc—the FIRST apple lap pc—and about my cassette tape collection. One-day pastor Tim Lambert overheard me tell someone I had just purchased a new music TAPE. And he chimed in “Now, you’re showing your age! Yet we know you meant CD!” The bottom line: Out of date!! Worthless—unless you can find a “collector!”
Don’t you just loathe and hate getting stuck? I think as Christians, many of us find ourselves being spiritually stuck too.
Just like the Israelites, how many Christians get stuck in the wilderness or even on the edge of their promised land?
A sad place to get stuck is when you’ve “almost” taken possession of your promised land. Untold miracles happened along a time-consuming journey and you have gloriously stepped into your promised land. God gives you not just a glimpse, but also a panoramic view of this beloved land. Don’t stop here at the edge.
It would be tempting to have no more need of manna and quail. You’ve safely left slavery behind, the wilderness is now history, and there’s no more need for manna and quails anymore.
Unfortunately, living on the edge of the Promised Land still leaves you lacking. God told Joshua, “Everywhere you go, you will be on the land I have given you.” (Joshua 1:3) The Israelites needed to physically step on the ground in order to claim the land as their own.
With each small victory, tremendous spoils of war awaited them. The Bible said they would harvest food they didn’t plant and live in houses they didn’t build. Pretty good deal!
But the temptation to stay in the land of “almost” was great for some of the tribes. Partial victory is better than no victory at all, right?
Young Harry thought that same thing! He had heard about the Land of Almost! Where parents and teachers didn’t hound you. He was tired of being told, “Do your homework! Cut the grass!” Or by teachers, “Where is your homework? You can do better than this!”
The land of Almost sounded fantastic! So he packed his bag and decided to leave. That night he crawled out the window and went to the train station. Later on, while in his seat asleep the train conductor came by saying, “All those getting of at Almost line up at the door!”
Harry grabbed his bag and went to line up yet discovered no line. The conductor walked up to him and asked, “You sure bout getting off here?” Harry nodded his head. The conductor continued, “Okay. When I say jump; you jump.” Harry asked, “Why jump?” Conductor smiled and told him, “We only slow down for folks to jump. We almost stop. Okay. Jump!” Harry didn’t jump so the conductor pushed him out of the moving train.
Harry fell into some tall thick grass then rolled to a stop. As he slowly got up, dusting himself off mumbling, “Crazy way to run a train! “Almost” stopping. Shheessh!” He picks up his bag and walked into the Land of Almost. Harry spots his target: Almost Holiday Inn. Smiling. He picks up his pace. Yet the name should have alerted him as to what awaited him.
Once inside the hotel, Harry gets checked in and the valet picks up his bag as Harry follows him to the staircase. Valet informs Harry that the elevator didn’t work. The valet proceeded to carry Harry’s bag up to the 2 in a half floor then gives the bag to Harry saying, “Up two in a half more stairs and first door an right!” The valet was gone. Harry picks up the bag and climbs the stairs up to the fifth floor and finds his room. Once inside, Harry drops his bag and lies down on the bed and begins looking around. Television. Computer. No games! So he tries the television and discovers there is no cable. Then his eyes come to rest on this apparent lump in the carpet. He climbs off the bed to investigate and soon learns after looking under the carpet, “They didn’t clean the room! They swept it all under the rug! I’m going to eat!”
Harry walks down to the Almost Café to eat. He orders a cheeseburger, fries, shake and chocolate cake. When his order comes, he picks up the burger and takes a big bite. Great! He takes another bite and finds out the burger isn’t cooked all the way. The fries are still frozen inside. The shake is warm yet the cake was okay. He tells the hostess he wasn’t paying for it and is told nobody ever pays.
By now, Harry is feeling sorry for him self and decides to take a walk. While walking, his mind turns to his mom and dad who by now know he is gone. It was just about sundown when suddenly he hears this noise of music and moans. There was a line of people carrying a dark box. As the procession neared Harry, he could hear them saying, “Oh we’ll miss him…We’ll miss him!” While at the same time, it sounded like somebody was in the box pounding and saying, “Let me out of here!”
Just then a voice says, “Youngman, is there something wrong?” Harry looks at him and says, “Somebody is in that box!”
The man looks at Harry and says, “Of course there is. So be a good boy and Let him enjoy his funeral!”
By now Harry’s eyes wide with fright and amazement. Then it all began to come together. Almost cooked. Almost clean. Almost dead. I’m going home! He runs to the hotel. Packs his bag and runs to the train station headed for home!
There are no partial victories. In the land and state of “almost” several enemies are always at your borders:
1) Lack. You’re not walking in the full provision of God. You can pay your bills, but there is nothing left over.
2) Fear. You don’t trust God fully. If you truly obeyed him, the risk is too great.
3) Sin. You learn to be comfortable living with your enemy. You let sin take root in your home and expose your children to this danger.
Joshua never got stuck in the land of “almost.” The book of Joshua records no lag time between battles. If you quickly scan the book, you’ll see repeated phrases like “Joshua conquered,” “Joshua slaughtered,” “Joshua traveled,” “Joshua built,” “Joshua continued.”
Talk about a list of active verbs! What a picture of someone moving forward! In only seven years, Joshua defeated 31 kings! Israel gained control of the Promised Land. Joshua instructed each tribe to clear out any remaining enemies in their territories.
But some tribes got stuck in their “almost” promised land. Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord has given you?” (Joshua 18:3)
Are there areas in life that concern or upset you? Then go make a difference. Are there areas in your child’s school that you wish would change? Go volunteer as an aide at the school or run for school board. Perhaps the way your city is run doesn’t meet your approval. Run for city council! The very fact that you see these areas is proof that Father God has given you the anointing and favor to overcome them. See a need? Go meet it!
Years ago at Rock Church, Pastor John Gimenez walked up to me and took my bible and wrote in it: John 17:4 which says, “I have brought you glory on earth by COMPLETING the work you gave me to do.” Start. Finish.
Today, God asks you the same question. Go and take possession of what is already yours!