Devotion 4 - 28 Oct 2012
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Joshua 22:5 - “… be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
All Your Heart and Soul
In Joshua 22:5 we read the following: “… be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
In reflecting on this very special verse something new pushed itself to the foreground. Often we read this verse (and others like it) with an emphasis on the need to serve God, the instruction to keep the commands or the invitation to hold fast to God in faith. Perhaps at other times we emphasize the fact that we have to do these things with all our heart and soul. In other words with every bit of might we can muster and all the resources we have – with absolute and complete surrender. And these are naturally good things to emphasize, and probably the appropriate points to ponder as well. But what if we change the emphasis just slightly to highlight another word, what happens then? Something quite encouraging!
When we emphasize the word ‘your’ in this verse it is as though the tremendous challenge of this instruction takes on an altogether more manageable scope. See, when we exclusively focus on what we should do, and the fact that we should do it with all our heart and soul, we tend to become overwhelmed and see these demands as nearly impossible to meet. But then we consider the fact that Scripture urges us to do these things with all your heart and soul and we begin to realize that all we need to do is to be faithful to the extent that is possible for us and in the things we have been called to (praying and trusting that this capacity will grow in size as we grow closer to God, of course, but never needing to do beyond what we are called to or capable of).
When we read of or think about the manner in which great heroes of the faith served God and how impressive their commitment was, often leading to great sacrifice, the response within us is sometimes a two-sided one. On the one hand we are inspired and motivated by their example, while on the other we are left intimidated and overwhelmed thinking, “I can’t possibly do that”.
I can’t serve as Moses did, or David, Rachel or Mary; I’m not John or Paul; I will never live up to the example of the great Church Fathers or even more modern ‘greats’ like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa. But the wonderful truth for us is that we don’t have to… There is a reason why God made Moses – and you – there is a reason why God made David – and you – there is a reason why God made all these great heroes of the faith – and you! That reason is that he wants all of us to serve as we are called to and to the full extent of our capabilities. I am not Moses because God doesn't want me to be Moses, he wants me to be me – to serve as faithfully as I can, to serve with all of my [your] heart and soul.
The challenge and encouragement of our devotion for today is a liberating one indeed, remember to serve God in all things and hold fast to Him – but do so with all your heart and soul… do it as you, not trying to be someone else or imitate someone you are impressed by.
Our Father created you to be you, and to serve Him as you – he wants your fullest, but also your unique service and obedience, as only you can give it. Strive this day to serve Him with all your heart and soul. A Famous Rabbi once said: “It is impossible to tell men what way they should take. For one way to serve God is through learning, while another is through teaching; one way to serve God is through fasting, while another is through eating and sharing a meal. Everyone should carefully observe what way his heart draws him to, and then choose that way with all his strength.”
Serve the Lord this day, and every day, with all your heart and soul!