Every year seems to fly by faster and faster. Here we are once again, beginning a new year and setting new goals and commitments, and it feels like just yesterday that we were beginning 2008. New Year’s always feels like a time of reflection to me, considering the past months and their ups and downs and looking to the future months and what I wish to change.
This morning, I was reading in I Kings 18 about Elijah and the prophets of Baal and one verse in particular really stood out to me. In verse 21, Elijah challenges the people of Israel by saying, "How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow him; if it's Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!" The Israelites were wavering in their faith in the one true God, and turning to follow Baal, a foreign god. A test ensued, where the God of Israel put to shame the prophets and followers of Baal, proving in a dramatic way that there is only one God. (You can read the story in I Kings 18.) The people were overcome, and fell on their faces in worship, shouting, “God is the true God!” Their hearts returned to following the Lord (at least for awhile!) and they realized that they had to make a choice.
What does this have to do with New Year’s Day, you ask? In one word…everything. I believe God is calling us to make this same choice, today. We are so conflicted between following the Lord and being part of this world we live in. I see so many examples of this every single day, in our parenting, our choices, and the way we live our daily lives. We sit around and complain about the state of the world and how hard it is to raise our children to follow God, yet we participate in the very things that we claim to despise. We refuse to stand up and be different, to say “No” to ungodliness in its many forms, and to proclaim that we choose to follow Jesus.
This Christmas, I was blessed to have my entire family at my house for Christmas. I was watching my children and their two cousins, who are all devoted to the Lord. I was thinking about how we have more than replaced ourselves (the four parents) with a generation who loves God and desires to serve Him, and wondering what the next generation will be like. What would change in our world if we parents declared our total commitment to following God and raised our children to do the same? What if we jumped off the fence we straddle (between God and the world) and refused to be drawn in to our culture? What if we refused to participate in entertainment that profanes our Lord and instead spent that time training our children in righteousness? What if we took back our children’s education and taught them not only reading and arithmetic, but God’s word and holy living?
We seem to give up so easily and be drawn into this world that we reside in, but don’t belong to. We need to take courage and stand firm, knowing that the rewards we reap for following God wholeheartedly will far outweigh the cost. My prayer for 2009 is that my family will choose, today, to serve the Lord, to dare to be different (even if others mock us for that choice) and to step firmly down from that fence and walk assuredly toward the path that leads to life everlasting. As Joshua said, "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:14-15
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