Chip had an excellent sermon this past Sunday and gave me a jump-start on 2015. An excellent sermon is when I don’t drift off somewhere during the delivery, don’t try to re-write it like I think it should be and put the good stuff in the back of my mind so I can rethink it later on. The title was a humdinger, “What did God do with the gold?” The content was about commitment. I also agree that I really need to know what He did with the money — even though He can do whatever He chooses — because God rules by examples that we can understand and can use in our own lives.
The first thing I did when Julie and I got home was to dig out the last Friday’s Statesboro Herald and find the article about a man who took a vacation from God for about a year and ended up as an atheist. I shall now do what I always do when writing: I digress. For you purists, I do not mean take a nap or play a game on my Xbox 360.
When I was growing up, I was constantly coached about commitment. “Johnny, there are starving people in Europe. Eat your broccoli!” I had more sense than to offer my solution, “Put my broccoli in a box and mail it to them.”
“Johnny, use soap when you take a bath. Finish your homework before playing. Tell your sister that you are sorry even if you’re not. Don’t you tell me that you’re going to when you’re not going to, and don’t roll your eyes at me, and I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” Does this sound familiar?
As I grew older, I began to realize that life is full of commitment. If I made the team, I was expected to practice, perform and not quit. When I joined the U.S. Navy, I quickly found out that there is only one way to do it. You did it the Navy way, period. When I looked into those beautiful eyes of Julie and said, “I do,” then, by golly, I did. This is very important: A commitment does not have an excuse, a time limit or a vacation.
Turn to Joshua 24 and read verses 14 through 22. Joshua basically tells all those who are about to enter the land of Canaan and accept or reject a covenant with God Almighty, “Here’s the basics: it is your choice, without coercion, to choose or reject an absolute binding commitment with the God who took you out of slavery, brought you to this land and gives you this terrible choice. What will I do, you may ask? Well, I speak for myself and my entire family. I choose to serve the Lord!”
The people answer — and I have to assume that means everyone — “We’re with you. We choose God!”
Joshua’s reply is almost unbelievable! “Don’t make an irrational decision. Think before you act! If you really mean it and you are committed to be God’s people, under His rule and choose to obey His covenant, that’s fine. However, if you enter into this covenant and decide to change your mind, He will consume you!”
Now, back to the pastor who decided to vacation from God for about a year. Where in the world did he get such a dangerous and idiotic idea that he could take a vacation from God or from any appropriate commitment for that matter?
“Let’s see now, I think I'll take a vacation from my job, my wife, my children, my obligations, my God for about a year. After all, I have been faithful for quite some time, but I really deserve time off. I’ll come back refreshed and a new man. Won’t they be happy!?”
My choice has some pretty obvious results: I have no job, no income, no benefits. I will be single and my children won’t recognize me. I am like a man without a country and God has allowed me to become godless and an atheist! I will have chosen my destiny and the future looks extraordinarily chaotic. The consequences will be final and terrible!
I read that article one more time before closing. As for me, I am committed and I will cherish every moment! I have made the right choices!