Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living: but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. One of the interesting things we read in the above verses from Joshua is that the people to whom he speaks follow his direction and affirm their strong desire to serve God. Even knowing these desires, God still offers, through Joshua’s words, options for worshiping tribal gods. This makes some sense on God’s part only if God offers a real choice. Following desire may not actually be a real choice. Our heredity, social pressures, and the like all have an impact on our choices. Genuine choice implies the freedom to have done otherwise.
As we acknowledge the needs around us for making a heartfelt committed response, we also need to recognize that we are called to make a real choice. A choice that doesn’t just sound good, that doesn’t just seem to be the right thing for this particular time, a choice that reflects that we are willing to commit ourselves to something more, bigger, maybe a bit risky, maybe outside our comfort zone, yet a choice that can result in changing the ways things are. As we can see from the Joshua quote, God knows the importance as well as the difficulties in what we choose. He appreciates the difficult place he puts all of us in as we determine what to choose. God also knows that choosing is what will bring about needed change potential as we seriously consider the consequences of the choice we make.
As I have grown older, I am aware that my personal priorities have changed, adapted, and often strengthened. When in High School and College, I did not try to seriously hurt others in football or in my relationships off the field. I was willing to take advantage of a perceived weakness in an opponent, but not to damage, only be successful in doing my job, play by play. As I moved on, those basic choices became ingrained. During my time in sales, I used to claim that I didn’t sell, my customers bought. I found their need and offered a solution that I thought would help. Much of the time I was right and they chose that solution.
My transition into formal ministry settings strengthened my desire to make choices that made positive differences for individuals, congregations and communities. I have made it part of my life focus to follow Joshua’s mandate; as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. That commitment has been augmented by the Brosnan family motto, “Sola Salus Servire Deo”,“the only safe course is to serve God.” We are all part of the family of God; and what hurts some will eventually hurt all. God has graced us with the power to choose. Use wisely your power to choose. Hymn #356 vs. 3-4 Mid times of sorrow and in times of pain, When sensing beauty or in loves embrace, Whether we suffer, or sing rejoicing, We belong to God, we belong to God. Across this wide world, we shall always find Those who are crying with no peace of mind, But when we help them, or when we feed them, We belong to God, we belong to God.
Lord God, may I exercise the precious gift of choice and the power to change that makes me uniquely human and is the only true path to freedom.In the name of Jesus who shows us the way. Amen.