THE STORY #6
CHOSE A PATH
Road trips. Like Randy Frazee, we all have our memories of trips. My memories of childhood trips and my children’s childhood trips is not that much different from Randy’s and that is probably true for many of you.
Even though our memories are similar, our roles were all different. My brother’s role was to do something. Just a little something that at first didn’t bother me, and in truth didn’t hurt anything at all, like scoot over just t little bit in the seat. My job was to ignore it as long as I could until whatever he was doing just drove me to explode for what I am sure seemed to my parents like no reason at all.
My kids had different roles too. Richie was pretty easy to travel with except for always being hungry. Amber’s job was to complain and blame Richie for everything. My job was the same as when I was a kid, put up with it as long as I could before exploding in the classic “Do you want me to turn this car around.” Robyn’s job was to keep me from turning the car around.
Was your family something like that?
Family systems theory tells us that each person has his or her own niche in the system that cannot be filled by anyone else. That is our role. It also says that if we step out of our role we change the balance of the whole system either for good or for bad. But it is important to know that we can choose to play our role or step out of our role in the system. It is important for us to know that we have the power to perpetuate the system or change the system by our own individual choice.
(Slide 2) Let’s look at the Israelite’s journey through the desert as a family road trip. Moses is driving. Aaron and Miriam are in the front seat with him, and everyone else… Like all 1-3 million of them were kids in the back seat picking at each other, driving each other crazy, and complaining all the way. They complained about the water. They complained that they didn’t have any food and then they complained about the food they did have. They complained that they wanted a God they could see. They complained about Moses. You name it and they complained about it.
They complained all the way from (Slide 3) Goshen to Sinai. Up to Hazeroth and Kaedesh. They complained all the way around a 40 year circle. They complained as they went around Moab, through the battles with the Amorites and up to Mt Nebo.
Eventually by the grace of God and the leadership of Moses, they arrived near their destination. The Promised Land was in sight. They could almost taste the milk and honey.
You have to understand that this was a whole different group from those who left Mt Sinai. Remember they were punished… you guessed it for complaining. They complained at Kaedesh, “Why bring us here to die by the sword in battle. You should have left us to die in Egypt.” God was just about to turn the car around and destroy them, when Moses talked him out of it saying, “Lord, you don’t want the Egyptians say. ‘Look the Lord took them into the desert to kill them.’?” So the Lord relented and declared that not one of them would cross into the Promised Land. That was the reason for the 40-year detour, so they would all die of natural causes rather than cross into that land flowing with milk and honey.
So this is a completely new crew- the children of the complainers… but nothing has really changed. They were still complaining, they were still running after other Gods, they were still the annoying children in the back seat of God’s station wagon
So Moses sits them down for a talk. This is Moses farewell speech and it is beautiful. I suggest you read it in its entirety in Deuteronomy 29-30.
He starts out in chapter 29- (page 84 of the story) reminding them of all they have seen in Egypt and in the desert, as they were lead to this place. There are several things here that hearken back to earlier speeches. This reminds us of a speech in chapter 4 where Moses asks, “Has anything so great as this ever happened? “ Read along with me
Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any God ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
It is as if Moses is saying, “Look what God did, and look how you complained. Look what God did and look how you disobeyed, Look what God did and look how you betrayed him. But it is up to you how you respond to God.”
Moses points out all that they have seen in contrast with their faithlessness in order to illustrate that they have a choice of paths in life. They can continue on the path they have followed so far, complaining, disobeying, and betraying God. Or they can choose a very different path.
The other path is reflected in verse 15 of chapter 30 on page 85.
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
You recognize that end of that passage from Jesus, but it is one he would have learned in Sabbath school, because every Jewish boy did. It is called the Shema, “Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Then he just lays it out for them He says there are two paths. The path you have been on complaining, disobeying, and betraying God; and the right path. Take your pick.
The path of life, and the path of death; take your pick
The path of blessing, or the path of destruction.
The path of right, and the path of wrong, take your pick.
The path of God, and the path of wondering aimlessly; take your pick.
He says you decide before you cross into the Promised Land.
Before I drive this car one more mile, you have to decide if you are going to stop fighting and get along.
Before I drive this car one more foot, you have to decide if you are going to stop complaining and be thankful.
Before I drive this car one more inch, you have to decide if you are going to choose God, or choose death.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” You have to choose a path. Right here and right now.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you” a choice.
You can be for God, or you can be against him.
You can speak up for what is good and right, or you can sit back and let evil take root.
You can share your faith with a friend or a neighbor, or you can, by your silence, abandon them.
You can live a life of service or you can be satisfied with living for yourself.
You can be the church, or you can be a social club.
You can be the body of Christ or you can simply be along for the ride picking at each other in the back seat.
You can choose to claim the ministry of this church, hold an office, come to the meetings, and take responsibility, or you can abandon the ministry that could be here and let nature take its course of decay and death.
It is up to you. I can’t be any clearer than that.
You have the same choice before you that the Israelites had before them… that each of the disciples had before them…that each of the saints had before them… that your grandparents and parents and teachers and preachers have always had before them. You have that same choice today. And only you can decide. God or self. Life or death.