The new calendar year is upon us! This is the usual time of year for resolutions and refocusing on the things that should be important in our lives. As I sat down to reflect on which resolutions I would attempt this year, I kept being reminded of one of my favorite Bible versus from the Book of Joshua:
But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
— Joshua 24:15 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
I came across this verse unexpectedly several years ago at my great-aunt’s Christmas party. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted my name on something on the floor of her living room as I was breezing through to get a drink for my wife. This was right at the beginning of my inklings about investigating my faith further, and it seems as if this stonework decoration was placed here just to get my attention. I stopped dead in my tracks and read the verse over several times, trying to commit the chapter and verse to memory. Then I remembered: I had my new iPhone in my pocket so I snapped a picture.
This felt like (and literally was) a sign for me, marking the beginning of my deeper dive in my spiritual life. I resolved at that point that I would try better to serve the Lord, and I had absolutely no idea what that meant.
Something’s Happening Here
In time, I read this entire verse in the context of the rest of the chapter. This is Joshua’s clarion call, his prime question to the tribes of Israel. They had continued worshiping the false gods of their fathers or the local gods of the territory they resided in. Joshua reminded the tribes of all that almighty God had provided for them and then offered them a stark exhortation to put away these old, false gods and follow the Lord. He concludes with the powerful verse quoted above.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see a corollary in today’s society which places the false gods of wealth, social justice, and creature comforts before just and true service of the Lord. I see even well-intentioned Catholics and other religious friends often making choices or placing more focus on these things instead of their own spiritual development. It’s not about the rights and wrongs of what your fathers did, or what society is doing, or what is fashionable, trendy, or feels good. It’s about obedience in understanding and following God’s Will.
Further, I am reminded of this verse each time someone has harsh or derisive comments to make in regards to religion. If it’s so bad to be religious and follow God’s Command, that’s fine… you have your choice. I am proud to echo the sentiment of my much greater namesake: as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
Wherein an in-flight movie improves my life
Imagine my surprise to see this verse show up again a year later. I was on a long business flight from Germany to the US and I remembered my mom’s recommendation for a movie called Courageous, because it reminded her of the That Man Is You! program that I had just started participating in. Luckily, this film was on the in-flight roster of movies that we could watch for free. It tells a story of a group of men who make a contract to be better husbands and fathers, and this verse is central to their deeper spirituality as well. I won’t ruin any of the film for you, but suffice it to say that I identified strongly with it. Do yourselves a favor and watch it.
I began this article talking about resolutions. I challenge everyone out there to ask themselves this question when you set your resolutions for the new year: “Who will you follow?” From there, simply ask “How?” a few times and see where that takes you. If you need further inspiration, grab a copy of Courageous… it should fire you up.
Lastly, I want to thank my Great Aunt Shirley for putting this decoration in a prominent location in her living room. I’m not quite sure where I would be if she didn’t.