“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 24:15)
Should I get up when the alarm rings? Should I make some coffee at home or buy it on my way out? Should I go to work? Should I eat breakfast? Should I pray now or later? Should I wear my shoes or boots? Should I respond to my emails? Should I buy the shirt? Should I upgrade my software? Should I go to the meeting? Should I stick to the diet? Should I go to the gym? Should I stay home and save money? Should I respond to the evite? Should I change the diaper now? Should I tell the truth? Should I wait? Should I update my Facebook? Should I attend the church service? Should I call my parents? Should I do something to help?
Decisions…decisions…decisions! Decisions are inescapable. Not a day passes by without us having to make decisions. Each situation we encounter and every alternative we face, sooner or later, demands a response. The people in our lives and the circumstances we find ourselves in may influence our decisions for the good or for the bad, but they can never take away the ability to decide from us. Each one of us is fully responsible for our own decisions.
Before his death, and in one of his last speeches, Joshua reminded the people of Israel of God’s faithfulness in their lives. In light of what God had done for them, he said, “…if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Even if serving God was not desirable all the time and even if there were feelings of indifference, Joshua asked them to make a decision between serving the faithful God of Israel and the idols of their time.Just in case they wondered if he himself had made a decision, Joshua said, “As for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” In other words, he declared, “I have made a decision to serve the Lord in my past and I am deciding to serve God in the here and now and I will continue to decide to serve God till my very last breath.”
In reference to this, Francis Schaeffer notes in his book Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History:
“This was the character of Joshua. He chose, and he chose, and he chose, and he kept right on choosing. He understood the dynamics of choice—once-for-all choice and existential choice as well. Thus his word to the people was not an affirmation puffed up on the spur of the moment. It was deeply imbedded in Joshua’s comprehension of what is required of a person made in the image of God, one called upon not to obey God like a machine or an animal, but to obey God by choice.”
Friends, we cannot choose the temptations we face. And we definitely cannot make decisions for others to serve God. But God graces us with the ability to make a decision to serve Him as an individual and as a family and follow through with it, even in the midst of hardships, in the face of persecution, in our stinging loneliness and in the absence of desirable feelings.
May we take responsibility for our own decisions and be found saying with Joshua, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Samuel Williams is co-founder & content director at Fluid. He is also the teaching pastor at Avenue Community Church in Toronto, Canada.