Choose Ye This Day

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
(Joshua 24:14–15, NIV)

Some days I feel like a cork in a steam… as if I’ve been swept up in a torrent and deposited someplace new and strange. But those are just feelings. My life is more a series of small choices. The places I end up are the results of small course corrections along the way. Occasionally, I must make a big decision, but life is much more like driving a car. I decide where to go and I decide how to get there. But nothing happens until I decide if I’m going to take the trip in the first place.

Israel journeyed long and hard not very far from the Promised Land. Occasionally, God stopped the show for a moment of orientation… of recommitment… putting them on notice that they too decide upon the course of their lives. The Jews would stand en masse, deciding together whether to go with God or not. And as the Jews discovered, life is in the small decisions along the way — like that slight tugging on the wheel that keeps a car on its original course.

A driver must keep the destination in mental view since roadways offer many choices along the way. Alternate routes peel off to the left and right, and signs along the road point to exotic destinations. Life is not like a tunnel where, when you go in one side of the mountain, you must come out on the other side. It’s more like a highway with continual interchanges, and where we have the freedom to travel wherever we would like. So, to stay true, a driver must decide on a destination, commit to the journey, and recommit to the journey along the way.

The Jews left Egypt and headed for Canaan under Moses’ leadership, and they traveled a circuitous rather than straight route through the wilderness. Why? Because they failed to recommit to God’s original plan. In fact, they rebuffed God by focusing on the problems ahead rather than on the Problem Solver… and a generation of them perished in the wilderness because of this. But before Joshua released the people to settle the new land, he challenged them to recommit. Why again? Because, settled or not, the journey continues even after the physical journey ceases.

You see, good beginnings do not cause good endings. Good middles do… and the middle is usually the most difficult part of any program. Beginnings tend to be fun and exciting, and endings tend to be satisfactory and victorious. But middles are all about walking, sweating and ennui… and it is these middles that make us champions.

Joshua did what he could to point the people in the right direction every day. But towards the end of their wanderings, he took a salutary moment and challenged the people to choose: follow your old gods or follow the true God by recommitting to the journey. Joshua took his own medicine, too. He let the people know what he decided for him and his family, and in this, he led by example.

Our own wilderness wanderings are a function of deciding where to place the next footstep and staying faithful to the original vision throughout the journey. We should choose which god (or God) to follow every day and every moment… because it’s not automatic. We choose our way through the wilderness… and we choose it one step at a time. 

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