The goal of our spiritual lives is not to become empty, like people who meditate while looking at doorknobs or special symbols. No, the goal of our spiritual lives is to become full of Christ. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The Israelites were blessed with a conquest that occurred “little by little.” In this way, the land wouldn’t be overrun by nature – or by other opportunistic peoples. The conquest would take time, but it would be complete. Every vestige of pagan idolatry would be wiped out of the land. It would be clean, and it would be full of the people of God.
God works in this way with us. He doesn’t hollow us out all at once, instantly expunging from our lives all our old dreams and likes and dislikes and habits. We never are empty shells of human beings.
Slowly, little by little, we are shaped and molded into Christlikeness. We call this discipleship. We are learners in the Way. And over time, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we push out the old sinful patterns of the past in order to make room for Christ in us.
This is why we should not become overly frustrated when we fall back for a time into old patterns. A certain frustration is good, but we should not allow our spirits to become crushed. Our faltering does not mean God is not at work in us. It simply means we must learn again how morally frail and fragile we really are, and we cannot do this work on our own.
“These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?” God will fight for you. Your job is to remain faithful to him, to love him with your whole self (Deuteronomy 6:4). And obey him where he has spoken to you, even down to the smallest detail.
Patiently and joyfully watch as God moves in.