I love reading 19th-century novels such as those authored by Dickens, Tolstoy, Eliot, Melville, Austen, and more. One recently recommended is entitled ‘Shirley’ by Charlotte Bronte. It’s proving to be a real page-turner. Bronte’s descriptive powers are breathtaking and sublime. Masterfully crafted language with nary a swear word, thankfully. Aren’t you tired of the smut oozing out of our current culture, which seems to lack any semblance of ‘culture’ whatsoever? When you think it can’t get any worse, it does.
But there’s nothing new about a decaying society. You know about the Old Testament book of Judges, where everyone does exactly what they themselves want to do regardless of God’s ways or will. They’re mad to defy and flaunt the Law of the Lord. Maybe it’s recreation or cheap entertainment for them. If they want to do something, they’ll do it. Defiant bigshots. See what I mean? There’s ‘nothing new under the sun’.
But what precedes the book of Judges offers some semblance of hope. The Israelite leader Joshua is tasked with the unenviable job of settling Israel into its twelve tribal land allotments. You can imagine the war-mongering going on from within and without. Battles rage yet victories outnumber defeats. Near the end of Joshua’s life, he challenges his people to choose whom they will serve–the One True God of Israel or the gods of neighboring nations? Decision day arrives.
As Yogi Berra says, ‘When you get to the fork in the road, take it!’ But Joshua offers a more decided choice. All roads don’t lead to Rome or Yogi’s home! You either follow the Lord or align yourself with pagan gods. Not ‘all of the above’ on God’s multiple choice test. Decide, already.
Knowing how wonderful Israel’s God has been to them, the miracles He performs, what kind of choice is that? Should be a no-brainer. Like rejecting everything to embrace nothing. As my Grandfather Fischer used to say: ‘Smart like your father, you dope you!’ So, who’s not playing with a full deck? Read the book of Judges to find out.
Many years ago, I chose to follow Jesus. To accept His offer of love and forgiveness. To be my Lord and Savior. How could I not? And then to make the Bible my life’s guidebook. Also to hang out with others who’ve chosen the same Lord and guide. Is that it? There must be more. Seems way too simple.
So, what does God require of us? There’s got to be a catch somewhere. Something that’s hidden in the fine print, which I can barely read? Too good to be true? Let’s check it out.
Hints can be found in the Old Testament Book of Joshua. ‘Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods…’ (Joshua 23:6-7). GPS is your Bible. God’s Positioning System! He’ll lead. We’ll follow.
More? ‘Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God’ (Josh. 23:11). Something else? ‘…but you shall cling to the Lord your God…’ (Josh. 23:8).
As I read these verses, I understand that following the Lord Jesus is not tied up with rituals and rules. Of course, there are do’s and don’ts but not to hamstring us. He wants to help us. Giving us good guidance with ways to live a life that is for our best. Being in a loving relationship with us, as we freely choose to follow Jesus. Loving Him back. Clinging to the Lord. Hanging on to His every word. Not letting go. Does He ask too much of us? Does He?
Back to Charlotte Bronte–‘…it is felt that a pitying God watches what all mankind has forsaken; the tender compassion of Jesus is recalled and relied on. The faded eye, the gazing beyond Time, sees a Home, a Friend, a Refuge in Eternity’ (‘Shirley’).
I choose to rely on Jesus. To cling to my Friend who prepares a Home for me, a Refuge, a safe place, not only for a fleeting moment but forever. How could anyone turn their back on such promised good news?
Thank you, Jesus, for being my true forever Friend. Amen.