Numbers 33:55 (New Living Translation)
55 But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live.
The people of Israel were camped on the opposite side of the river Jordan, looking across to Canaan, the Promised Land, when God gave Moses these instructions for them.
Theirs was to be no army of occupation--they were to completely drive out the inhabitants of the land, destroying the images of the gods the people worshipped, leaving no trace of them.
It's easy to see how hard those instructions would have been to follow, but God warned them that anything less than that--any compromise or half-hearted commitment--would have painful consequences. The people who remained would be like splinters in their eyes and thorns in their sides--an endless stone in their sandal.
I'm a long way from Canaan, but there are a few "Promised Lands" in my life, and I can't help thinking of the parallels when it comes to less than full commitment to a goal.
Thinking of this account from the book of Numbers, I can see the futility of just looking longingly at the land across the river, or crossing over and being less than fully pledged to the goal of taking the land.
I've decided that whenever I'm tempted to dilute my efforts towards any of my "Promised Lands," I will think of splinters and thorns. Splinters and thorns are painful and irritating things. Ignoring them just doesn't work and if you want to get rid of the irritation you have to pull them out. Not taking them out can result in nasty infections.
Maybe, just maybe, I'm about to enter the land!