Joshua 24

November 4, 2005

I’m giving the message at both services this weekend and I’m using Joshua 24 as the text. I have really enjoyed studying this passage, in which Joshua has gathered all of the members of the 12 tribes of Israel together to give a sort of farewell speech. He tells the Israelites that they must choose this day who they will serve. The Israelites say they will serve God, but Joshua warns them not to be too confident. It will be very tempting to worship other gods. The Israelites renew their committment to God and Joshua places a stone under an oak tree as a memorial and a witness of their committment.

Back in Josh’s day, the temptation was to worship pagan gods and goddesses. It may be tempting to think that this passage doesn’t apply much to us in our monotheistic society where very few people (especially here in the south) worship pagan gods and goddesses. But of course, it does apply to us because we have a whole new set of gods–money, power, lust, success… This passage has really challenged me to consider all of the things that take my time and make sure that everything is in it’s right place.

It’s also challenged me to consider our family priorities and also what my actions teach Jonas about the importance of God. Joshua informs the Israelites, “Choose this day who you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Would six year old Jonas list God as my top priority? Does he see me in moments of spiritual discipline or does he just see me offer a prayer before we eat because that’s what we’re supposed to do? What do I teach him about taking time to ask God when making decisions or reading his Bible? Not enough, I’m afraid.

I think a challenge for Christians of our day is that we live in a society that is so busy. I say it myself all the time–I’m so busy! And I really am. I have a lot of ministry things on my plate right now, as well as my family (both immediate and extended), my friends (many of whom live far away and I never take the time to call, something I feel badly about all the time), bills to pay, meals to cook, beds to make, laundry to do (etc–the list is neverending), and the hobbies and things that I like to do in my free time (what there is of it). Unfortunately, I don’t always give God my best–a lot of times he’s getting what I have left. Give minutes here and 10 minutes there and praying in my car and pausing for a few seconds when I walk through the sanctuary are an important start for sure. But I’ve felt challenged by God to 1) slow down, 2) know what’s really important and make time for it and 3) Let everything I do to be a true ministry for Him.

Last night, I received a phone call from a girl in my youth group. She was calling to check on something about a trip we’re going on this weekend (we leave tonight at 6) and we ended up talking for about 25 minutes. It was around 8:30 and I was just getting my first few moments of free time all day–Jason was putting Jonas to bed after a difficult night of homework and whining. A few minutes into the phone call, I started to look for a way to close the conversation–I had given her the info she needed and we were just shooting the breeze. She said, “Can’t we just talk for a few minutes? I’m bored.” And my heart kind of melted. I mean, what was I thinking? Here was a teenager–a representative of my calling from God–who wanted to just chat with me and I was trying to hang up so I could read. Yikes! So I apologized and said of course and listened to her tell me jokes and talk about the baby think it over that she had to bring home as a school assignment. It was really fun. And I was really convicted about how busy I am, and how that has made me selfish with my time.

I keep saying that come January, I’ll have a chance to slow down. But in truth, if I don’t make that happen, it never will. How will it happen? I have no idea. I’m really overwhelmed with a lot of things right now. A lot of people think that when you work at a church, you must have a lot of time to spend with God and you must have a lot of opportunities to pray and read and study. Some days I really do. Some days I can take my Bible and sit on the floor of the sanctuary and read and sing and pray. Most days I have to fight to have that time because there is so much that needs to be done. And there’s a lot of pressure when you’re on th payroll (although, of course, there shouldn’t be). I’m determined, though, to make more time. I know that spending enough time in the Savior’s embrace will only bring peace, life, and love to the ministry I’ve been called to do.

3 responses to Joshua 24

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve read them and… I don’t know… I feel… somehow. Touched in my spirit. Yeah. Something went inside of me and it will influence my actions somehow.

    Anyhow… I love it how you could talk with that girl from your youth group and how you could laugh and enjoy the time you had talking with her. I’m so busy myself at times that I can’t even enjoy people’s company at times.

    But… God is good and I know that we’ve got to continue to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”… and when we sincerely do it, “all of these things will be added unto us.” Or whatever… perhaps that’s a lot of religious jargon… but it’s true… God is good!

  2. Niklas & Katie Lorentzon November 5, 2005 at 2:07 am

    I really appreciated that post. It made lots of sense to me and I could really identify with it.

    There have been times in my life where time with God took such a priority that everything else seemed a waste of time compared to that, and then there have been times when, like you mentioned, it seemed like God just kind of got whatever was left over.

    I think now, being married plus just having a lot more responsibilities that come with being an “adult”, I have had to find some kind of balance.
    Because yes, the laundry does have to get done. And I do need to do the things that help provide us with a source of income. And I do need to scrub clean the bathroom when it is time to do that.

    So whereas God does need to be my first priority without a doubt, it’s like He can somehow be with me in the midst of sorting socks and scrubbing bathtubs because He knows I need to do that and He knows I can’t always be on my face receiving deep revelation.

    I don’t know, I guess it seems like what I have learned in getting older and more mature is that God is King in the midst of this daily life I lead and I can make Him Lord despite the necessary mundaneness (not a word) that is present in this life.

    I have realized that I can serve and please Him by going to a goofy animated movie at the theaters with a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds. And next week I am going to take the bus to a café in Lund with my four year old “best friend” Emelie because God told me to do that, so it must be some grand way of blessing His heart that I would obey Him in that.

    Yeah, I guess I just obey Him the best I can in all the little things. And often my times alone with Him result in Him telling me how I can best bless my husband that day, or how to best budget my time that day or which person to ask to go for a walk together with later that day.

    I think I have learned that the key is to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. Everybody goes through all kinds of different stuff and everybody’s lives look so totally different, but through Him we can “make the most of” whatever it is He has given us and wherever it is we are, because He is good like that.

    Those were just my random thoughts inspired by your post! Thanks for letting me reflect here…

  3. Becky,
    It was so good to hear your thoughts. As I read what you wrote I thought back to UE when we were such advocates of “make God first and everything else will fit it.” I still, as you do, believe that, but, boy oh boy, back then we could just skip class if necessary. We can’t skip life! My situation is different, I know, becuase I do have more “alone” time with God. In fact, He has reminded me a lot recently how important this time of aloneness is in my growth in Him. But I digress…..when you all were talking about doing luandry but double timing it w/ time with Jesus it reminded me of Joyce Scott, someone I really respect as a God chaser and intercessor. I remember her telling me about the importance of enjoying my time with God now because once a family comes in the only “God time” you may get in a week’s time is while sorting laundry! But how God still values and does great things in this time. I think one thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown and even matured a little (Hallelujah! If I can grow and mature anyone can!) is that God really is in EVERY moment. He gives us those precious rendezvouses with Him, but, really, He is I AM. He is in EVERY MOMENT! But, in contrast, this weekend I attend a workshop on the importance of living free WITH stress and how that means we need time to rest. Time to rest in Him. I wonder at what point we figure out that balance of of taking time out and meeting Him in the daily monotony?

    Also, I really appreciated your reflection on how your actions are impacting Jonas. I just really respect parents who understand the value of being Christlike examples for their kids. That touched me.

    I’ll be prayin’ for you about Sunday!