There is a scene in every rom-com Korean drama where the main character suddenly “gets it”.
Flashbacks speed by, moments when the romantic lead did something selfless for Main Character. The realization hits them. Main Character takes off running, for the airport or their house or something. They’re finally ready to love Romantic Lead back.
The first part of Joshua 24 is like that series of flashbacks. The second part is like when the main character runs to their romantic lead.
But what happens next? Is it happily ever after or are there a few more episodes left in this drama?
As Joshua speaks, a slideshow of memories play back:
The obstacles, enemies, and trials the Israelites faced.
The miracles God worked for them.
The answers God provided for their prayers.
The love He showed, day in and day out.
It’s enough to send a person running down the street, ready to love their God back.
And it does.
The Israelites are emotional. They’re finally in the Promised Land. They’re hit with all these reminders of how good God has been. They’re on a spiritual high.
So they do the only thing they can do – they promise to serve God for the rest of their lives.
I’ve been there. In tears, overwhelmed, flooded with thoughts about how truly good and amazing God is, and how often I’ve failed Him.
I’m frantic, I’m ashamed, I’m desperate for change, so I make a promise. I decide today is when I’ll give my life to God, once and for all.
It may be sudden and clouded with emotion, but it’s still genuine, and that’s all that matters, right?
Joshua begged to differ. As soon as the Israelites’ earnest promises left their lips, he wastes no time shutting them down.
“You are not able to serve the Lord.”verse 19
God is holy, and you aren’t, he says. You’re only going to sin against Him again.
And isn’t that the truth?
It doesn’t matter how high the spiritual highs get. It doesn’t matter how much we cry or how sure we feel. Somehow, sin always seems to creep back in to our lives and settle in, its roots growing deeper and deeper every time the cycle is repeated.
So now what? Is this what happens next? Is our story like a never-ending drama? Breaking up and getting back together with our romantic lead, forever, until we die?
“You are able to choose to serve Me.”
“You are not able to serve the Lord”, Joshua says. “Yes, we can!” the Israelites shoot back. “Oh, okay!” Joshua grins and gives them a thumbs up.
That’s how verses 19-22 of Joshua 24 come off. But it’s not that simple.
The Israelites didn’t just brazenly repeat their promise.
They repeated their promise, and then they got rid of all of their idols. And then they repeated their promise again, making a covenant with God. And then they set up a permanent reminder for themselves so that they would never forget the promise that they had just made!
The key to turning our spiritual highs into real change and ending the sin cycle is to move past emotion and make a firm choice.
We have to change our schedules, throw some things out, delete certain bookmarks off our computer. We have to come to God, admit to Him our failures and weaknesses, repeat our promise to Him, and ask Him to help us keep it.
And we have to do it every single day.
Loving God and serving God isn’t something that happens when we’re high on emotions. It’s a daily commitment. It’s a promise repeated over and over.
We can’t serve God by ourselves, but we can choose every day to give Him our lives so that He can give us the power to obey Him.
I believe that when we firmly choose God, our sin cycles will give way to a new kind of cycle. A love cycle, if you will?
And this time, we’ll stay together.
What do you think? How do we make sure our “spiritual highs” result in real change in our lives?