I love the story of the young man who wanted just the right card to express a deep sentiment to the girl he loved. Finally…he found it! The card said simply, “To the only girl I’ve ever loved.” “Terrific. Wonderful,” he said to the store clerk… “I’ll take six of those!” Obviously, this young man had a problem with commitment! So did the people of Israel. They had a tendency to chase after many gods of the Canaanite culture. They were fickle. They served and worshipped the gods who were nearest to them and could give them what they wanted. (Rain and sunshine for their crops, children, victory in battle, etc.)
That is why when Joshua led the people into the Promised Land, he called the people to huddle up at a place called Shechem. In this sacred place he asked them to make a commitment to Yahweh God as the #1 priority in their lives. Before they made this exclusive commitment, Joshua reminded them that God wants their whole lives. God wanted their hearts, their minds, and actions…not merely their words.
Joshua reminded the people that God wants an exclusive commitment from them. God wants to be their first love … their one and only… their highest priority.
We make commitments to our families, friends, careers, and institutions. We make financial commitments to houses, cars, college savings plans, and vacations. We make commitments to golf, fitness, cooking, and other hobbies. But, there is room for only one top priority in our lives. What is your top priority? … Really? What “gods” of our culture do we worship? Success? Materialism? Power? Popularity?
When Peyton Manning was quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, his pastor told me a great story about Peyton’s priorities. Every week during football season when the Colts had a home game, lay people would tell the pastor that they had to miss church because the Colts had a 1:00 kick-off. They had to prepare food for the tailgate meal before the game and get to the stadium in plenty of time to get to their seats. However, every Sunday at the early service, Peyton Manning was in worship! He sat in the back balcony and left during the final hymn… but he was present in worship. He had to quarterback the team in the game that day… and yet he still made worshipping God a priority. Is God a priority for us?
Whether we know it or not, there will come a time in every one of our lives when we will have to “let go” of everything … families, houses, careers, friends… even our own bodies. In those moments, we will not wish that we’d spent more time at the office. We will wish that we’d spent more time getting to know God. Why wait until that day to make a commitment to God as our highest priority?