Exodus 23:29–31: “I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out from before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land. . . . I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.”

Observation: God showed Himself to be both thoughtful and strategic as to how to bring freedom and deliverance to His people. He had a pace in mind that would enable the Israelites to be set free yet not be overwhelmed with the success of the effort.

Application: Well, this is certainly not the approach I would use were I in charge of things. But imagine the profligate accustomed to having her own way in every area of life. Never yielding to authority, seeking constantly to satisfy fleshly desires at the expense of another, has she bullied through life inflicting pain and rejection upon those who dare come close enough for relationship. Her health has been dissipated through hard living, and her moral values could hardly be at greater odds from the Father’s.

So often my heart cries out for a fast deliverance, for freedom to come at once, with little effort on my part. This passage suggests such quick and easy release may not be in my best interests. Each old habit must be replaced with new; old priorities must be rebuilt using new materials; old structures of belief and behavior may need a wrecking ball before reconstruction can be attempted. Then very deliberately, He begins working on whatever part He chooses.

I want my issues to be dealt with now. I want freedom from unrighteous habits to come all at once. But God, in His wisdom, provides that deliverance gradually, enabling me to savor and more fully appreciate increasing measures of freedom.

I love the idea in Exodus 23:31 of partnering with God, as He is the one who delivers my enemies into my hand. But the next step is for me to be the one to drive them out. Being remade in His image is always a process rather than the one-time event I might prefer.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am thankful for Your wisdom in giving me the choice to walk in the deliverance You provide. Thank You that I can look back over long periods of time and see that little by little, I have learned to cooperate with what You want to do in my heart. Thank You for grace during all those times that I’ve been a slow learner, and for Your faithfulness to never give up on me.