Seize the Opportunity
“Joshua said to the Israelites, “How long will you be lackadaisical about taking possession of the land which the Holy Blessed One, the God of your ancestors, has assigned to you?”
There was a meme used by the Obama campaign in the final few months of his Presidential contest against John McCain. The meme was a short video clip of a bicyclist nearing the end of a race.
The man, seeing an end in sight, began to shake his hands in the air feverishly to celebrate his soon-to-be victory. But due to his wild gesticulating, his balance was thrown off, so he crashed just before the finish line. So close, and yet so far.
The soon-to-be President Obama did not want his campaign to emulate that of the racer and to have his pace slowed, even as the poll numbers indicated that he was in the lead. No time to be lackadaisical – one must finish strong, he advocated.
There are many instances in the Tanakh of characters that find themselves close to their goal but not acquiring it. However, not all falling-short stories are for a lack of hustle or the result of being distracted, or overconfident. Jonah attempted to bolt from his mission to warn the residents of Nineveh of their impending doom – but then was suddenly swallowed by a fish. The early humans strove to build a tower towards the heavens in Babel – to which God said: “nice try!”
These two examples and the many more like them are about the various human characters that had a plan that ran counter to the will of God. In these clashes of desire, the Godly plan wins out at the end of the day.
When the plan is aligned with the will of God, however, all one has to do is not give up, slow down, or celebrate too early.
The Israelites, led by Joshua, are at the finish line of their own marathon. Joshua, having seen his colleagues – the spies – get so close to the Land of Israel and falter due to their insecurities, grows weary of his new compatriots that have been given a promise from God but cannot seize the opportunity.
There is a saying “man plans, and God laughs”; but the lesson of this chapter is “God wants for us to succeed, so we should act accordingly.” If you do not give up on yourself, then the universe has your back.
The reflection on this chapter is part of the broader 929 project where you read a chapter-a-day (weekends excluded – so only 5 chapters per week) of the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible.
We are working our way towards February 2, 2022.
Where do you hope to be in your spiritual journey by then?