14 “So now, revere the LORD. Serve him honestly and faithfully. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the LORD. 15 But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the LORD.”
16 Then the people answered, “God forbid that we ever leave the LORD to serve other gods! 17 The LORD is our God. He is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. He has done these mighty signs in our sight. He has protected us the whole way we’ve gone and in all the nations through which we’ve passed. 18 The LORD has driven out all the nations before us, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God” (Joshua 24:14-18, Common English Bible).
Do you ever, multi-task? I do. Do you multi-task in ways that are less than productive? Yep, that’s me too. It started today just after lunch. I picked up my laptop and pulled two music books out the drawer. Then I sat down and started to work. Before I knew it, my brain was hard at work on several projects. I was thinking about the song I was working on and what I was going to write on the blog today. It didn’t stop there. I was also thinking about what work remained on another project. While I was attempting (unsuccessfully) to fight off an afternoon nap that it seems like more and more, as I get older, my body, demands. When I was a kid, I never wanted to take naps. All it seems I have to do these days is be at home. What I need to do is choose which project I am going to work on now, and put all the others aside until I have the first one finished.
When I was in seminary, I used what I called at the time, “The Firefighter Method” to get things done. Whatever the next fire might be, a test, a paper, a sermon, whatever needed completion next, that became my choice of project.
It can be challenging to make choices sometimes. Things seem equally important. For the student who has two papers or two tests on the same day. What about the parent who has to have breakfast ready, but also has to have lunches ready when the buses come to carry the children to school. Then there is the business executive who has only partial control of the personal calendar and finds two people have scheduled meetings to attend with overlapping times.
The Israelites faced choices just as we do. Our lesson today points to that. It would also seem that they made the wrong choice just about every time they faced a choice. Again and again, the Israelites faced the same decision. Do we follow Yahweh, or do we follow the God behind curtain number “2?” The most significant difference would be, they already knew about both the choices. The god behind curtain number “2” was a god made with human hands. Yahweh demonstrated over and over both the love and the power that God gave to the Israelite people. That they would even consider this was an insult to God. In the end, the Israelites choose Yahweh. They would, however, waffle again. It was a vicious cycle. Yahweh would make a covenant with Israel. As soon as they settled, the terms and were well into the agreement made with God, they would choose wrong and live the life they wanted until God had enough and delivered a new punishment. The Israelites would repent, and the whole cycle would begin again.
God gives us that same choice too. Our biggest problem is, the false gods of our world are much more subtle than the false gods of the Israelites day. Our gods include the god of instant gratification, the god of the micro mentality, the god of rugged individualism, and that names only a few, and don’t get me started on the gods of sports.
Each of us must decide who we will serve. Which God will you choose? I can speak for no one except me, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.