When you have time

What’s your “one of these days, I’m gonna…” dream? You know, the “when I have the time, …” thing.

I don’t have a “bucket list”, maybe because I associate those with jumping out of airplanes or hang gliding in the Grand Canyon, and I think that could hurt — a lot.

I’ve begun writing, which I suppose would have been my “one of these days, I’m gonna…” list topper.

Time-limited opportunity

Living in the fifty-plus zone (not the speed limit), I realize whatever I’m going to get done “one day” needs to be bumped up on the priority list. In fact, the state of the world at this point in time seems to point in the same direction. The old spiritual song said, “Trouble don’t last always”, but then, neither does opportunity. Usually there is a window of time — often taken for granted — to start or finish a preferred project, to contact an old friend from college, or visit that elderly neighbor down the road.

Famous opportunities from antiquity

Recently, as I re-read a Biblical account of the intertwined destinies of two major people groups, I saw it in a new way: an opportunity for changing the outcome — for at least a few — that was not originally intended to occur.

Most no doubt remember the saga of Israel’s being delivered from Egypt (an event celebrated each year during the Passover), which in fact was the birth of  the children of Abraham as a nation, as opposed to simply families united by a common heritage. God brought them out “with a mighty hand”, wreaking havoc on their former captors in a series of plagues and eventually devastating their entire army in the Red Sea, through which he’d just brought the new nation on dry land.

Following this unprecedented and divinely powered victory, they were intended to march almost straight to Canaan — the land promised by God to their father, Abraham — to drive out its inhabitants and possess it. Tragically, as they made it to the threshold of the “land flowing with milk and honey”, they were cowed by the testimony of the majority  of the twelve spies sent in to look over the land. These ten had suddenly forgotten how powerful their God was, and had no problem raining on the faith of those who had seen it all first-hand. For their unfaithfulness and doubt, they were required to wander 40 years in the wilderness, until the whole generation of unbelievers died out, and a new generation rose up to conquer Canaan, led by one of the only two spies who had insisted God’s people were well-able to take the land with God fighting for them.

I began to wonder what may have happened in Canaan during the 40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness. The generation that was alive when Israel came out of Egypt was slated to have been utterly destroyed, per God’s commandment. But 40 years for Israel’s unbelievers to die meant 40 more years of life for them.

How did that generation of Canaanites spend their respite?

Who got it?

When Joshua sent spies into Jericho before taking the city, they were harbored by one woman, a prostitute (harlot) named Rahab, who told them in brief what all in the region were saying: that the hearts of the people were already melted because of the great acts they had heard that God had done for them. She was brave enough to harbor those two men, though it could have cost her life. In acknowledging the power of their God, and allowing their lives to be spared, she and her household were saved out of all the thousands in Jericho when Israel took the city. No one else was spared.

Rahab was undoubtedly young — the nature of her occupation would indicate so. She had to have been of childbearing age, because she later married one of the Israelites and was included in the line of Judah that brought King David and all the later kings of the nation into the world. She was one of only four women mentioned in the earthly ancestry of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1.

Rabah would have been born during the 40-year reprieve given unto Canaan. She was the only one who made use of the time to turn her heart toward the things of God, and away from the heathen practices of child sacrifice and worship of everything but the true and living God, and put herself in the position of seizing the opportunity to reach out to him by helping his people, and thus gain an entry into his kingdom and salvation, when it came.

Is opportunity knocking?

God would be more than justified if he destroyed the world as it stands today, and the ungodly with it, but he hasn’t done it yet. When will he? I don’t know, but I for sure know that he will, because the original book of prophecy, the Bible, says he is going to.

Things in the world grow more frightful every day: politically, representatives seem to be losing the ability to make helpful, meaningful decisions for the greater good; sin is increasingly bold and incomprehensible, and the innocent are victimized cruelly. Is it time to give up and resign oneself to the inevitable? That’s what most of Canaan did. They all must have heard the same reports of the awesome, unstoppable power headed their way, but only one woman chose to seek the help that would change her life and that of her family forever.

If there was just one, would it be you?

Does it matter if anyone else around you chooses to say, “I will not lose out with those who cling to this current situation because they’re  enjoying the liberty of living every way they want; I won’t cower in fear with those who say that  it’s hopeless to try to change; I will ask for help; I will make a change”? The Bible makes it clear that God wasn’t destroying those cities because of Israel’s righteousness. Israel had messed up over and over and over in their time of following God. He was destroying those Canaanite cities because they had chosen wickedness repeatedly throughout the generations they had lived there. They deserved destruction, as does our wicked world today. But God had paused it, as he has paused ours for a time.

How are you using your respite?

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