This morning I was helping organize some of the inventory in the grocery store which our church operates. I was given the task of moving large jars of dill pickles from the shelves to the storage room. But in the midst of carrying out this very important responsibility, one of the jars slipped through my hands, fell to the floor, and shattered - spraying pickles, and juice, on pretty much everything and everyone within a five foot radius. As I stood there with pickle juice running down my legs, it was all I could do to control my frustration from spilling out in words that are not appropriate for anyone, much less a pastor.
And in that moment, I was reminded of a foundational spiritual truth: we must choose to follow God in the big and the small things of life. Joshua 24:14-15 puts it like this, "Serve the Lord wholeheartedly. But if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” This passage comes after the Israelites have been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. And Joshua, the man who took over when Moses died, is getting ready to lead them into the Promised Land. But before he does, he asks them this question - challenging them to consider who they are going to serve with their lives. Will it be God? Or the gods of the people who live in the land?
Joshua had good reason to ask this question because he had lived and traveled with this group of folks for 40 years. During that time he had watched them choose God one day, and then choose someone or something else the next, so he knew how fickle they could be. Unfortunately, we can do the same thing the Israelites did - one minute choosing to serve God and live for Him, and then when things go bad, or we get tired, or we decide to give in to temptation - we choose to serve ourselves. And that was exactly what I was confronted with as I stood in that pool of pickle juice. Who was I going to choose to follow? God and how He's called me to live, even when things are frustrating? Or my own sinful nature?
It was a good reminder of what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:24, when He says, "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other." We must choose to serve God – fully and completely – in the big and small things of life - even when we’re suddenly surrounded by broken glass and pickle juice.
So today, let's do what Jesus calls us to do - let's choose to serve Him. Let's ask Him to help us surrender our desires, our emotions, and our will to Him so that we can show this world Who we serve.