“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:6-9 (NIV)
Be careful to obey; that is an interesting statement. In one form or another, I have said the same thing to my children. “If you would just do what you’re told, you would get to watch TV.” “You wouldn’t be on a time out if you had listened to Mommy and Daddy.” God has given the Israelites clear warning with those four words: Be careful to obey.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where obedience is as valued as it should be. The rebel is glorified in movies and books. The charming bad guy with moral ambiguity tinting every word and action is a “romantic” figure. We have placed the radical dissenter on a cultural pedestal and suffered terribly for it. Because of this, our children are learning that rules cripple the free spirit and hamper the soul. Here begins the difficult lesson we must teach our children – if they want to reach the promises of God, they will have to work.
God took the children of Israel to the Promised land, but they had to work for it and under very specific rules. There were no shortcuts and they could not reach their goal without adhering to God’s commands. We do a disservice to our children if we don’t bring them through the same process. Helping them reach the promise God has for their lives is going to take work under some very specific rules. These rules don’t cripple freedom, they set us free from being ruled by our passions and desires. These rules don’t hamper the soul, they help clean out the home for the soul to grow strong and true.
Teaching our children to be rule followers, to be obedient, is a tough job. We have plenty working against us, but we have God on our side.
Lord, help me to be a rule follower. Continue to teach me the value of obedience. Give me the patience, perseverance and discipline to teach my children to work for the promise. Amen.