“Now therefore fear the Lordand serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15)
“Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” (Joshua 24:16-18)
Parenting is probably the hardest job, given all the different stages of children as they grow up. But many parents often react to their children’s challenges without thinking, or try to figure out what the problem is and solve it without God’s help. We like to think we are strong, wise people who can handle anything, but the truth is that we are frequently overwhelmed, frightened, out of control emotionally, and don’t know what to do. But Christians, isn’t this the way we lived before we belonged to Christ? Now we, like the Israelites, are “beyond the River,” on the other side of the Jordan. We are called to live differently. But, like Israel, we revert to our old ways, in spite of God’s faithfulness to help us in the past.
I’ve been doing a word study on faithfulness in the evenings. At the beginning of the year, I looked up “faith,” which resulted in passages about our faith and God’s call to faith. But as I began looking up Scripture with the keyword “faithfulness,” I became tremendously encouraged by the verses referring to God’s faithfulness in the Old Testament. It is God’s faithfulness that Joshua spoke of before giving his people the directive to be faithful to God in the renewal of the covenant in Joshua 24 (vs. 1-13). It is because of God’s steadfast love, attentiveness, protection, guidance, and discipleship that the people even arrived in Canaan. It is because of Christ’s faithfulness that you and I are no longer as we once were, lost in our spiritual wilderness on our own.
The Israelites were never without help, so why should it be “evil” (troublesome, burdensome) to serve God who loves and cares for them (v. 15)? Why should it seem so to us? Our service in Christ has been transformed from the weary, toilsome way we used to think of duty. Parents who serve Christ are vessels of gospel grace, forgiveness, and instruction. But we relapse into legalism and dry obligation at the drop of a hat, forgetting all that Christ has done for us. We even commit to serve God on our own strength, just like the Israelites (v. 18). Joshua warned them that they would not be able to obey God based on their human strength; God knew their hearts and expected them to surrender to his holy will (v. 19).
Have you surrendered your parenting to Christ, in your heart, mind, and actions? How will you lead and help your household to depend upon Jesus for the day-to-day issues and challenges? Will you resolve to run to him instead of trying to sort things out yourself? “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)