3/20/2016 10:26:47 AM
A Reflection on Joshua
Today's reading from Joshua comes at the every end of the book. Like the end of Deuteronomy, Joshua ends with an extortion to the people to walk closely with God. The people gather in Shechem, the place where Abraham first encountered God in the promised land, and Joshua begins with a history lesson. He reminds the people where they came from, including their ancestors who worshipped other gods. From Abraham through Moses, the people have traveled a great deal. They are now in the land promised to them, a land that is finally quiet after years of warfare. The conquest of this land is now, relatively, complete. The people now need to learn a new thing: how to be God's people when they're no longer on the move.
That's the context for the famous line: "as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." This verse shows up in lots of places and might be hanging on a piece of art in our home. In the context of Joshua, he is asking the people to make a choice and a commitment to walk in the ways of God. In our context, we can do the same. Making a choice for God is a powerful way to feed our faith. There's power in declaring our allegiance to God. That witness helps frame how we approach each day, grounding ourselves in a God of promise.
Yet, I've always seen this verse not as a declaration (even though it is in the text) but as a prayer. There are days when it is easy for me to choose God. But there are days when I struggle. There are days when I don't notice God and there are days when I yearn for Jesus but cannot seem to find him. Declaring that my household serves the Lord isn't something that we can all declare every single day. There are day when we'll wonder if that's true. There are other days when God might not even show up in our thoughts or conversation. But this declaration can be our prayer: a prayer for God to help us serve. It's a prayer asking God to help us love. This verse from Joshua invites God to keep us mindful of who God is and what God is calling us to be and do. We can't always choose God but we always can lean on this God who, through Christ, chosen us.