I've seen and heard this verse quoted hundreds of times.
It's preached, declared, scripted onto journal covers, coffee mugs and t-shirts.
It's everywhere in the Christian church. In fact I doubt there's a Christian anywhere who does not know this verse.
It came from Joshua at the end of his life, after taking the mantle of leadership from Moses, leading Israel into the Promised Land and guiding them to victory over their enemies for many years, after faithfully giving and living his whole life in God's service. Looking back on a long life Joshua was able to say this with true conviction.
But there's more to this verse than just "as for me and my house we will serve the Lord."
In fact, Joshua declared this to Israel for his own family, doubting that the rest of Israel could honestly make such a commitment before God about their own families.
"Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods..."
Joshua was still not convinced.
Back and forth the conversation went, Joshua doubting, Israel declaring otherwise until Joshua reminds them that they are witnesses against themselves and God will hold them accountable should they turn from Him.
Then Joshua died, and you know what happened?
The very next generation, the children of those who had declared that they too would have their household serve the Lord always, DID NOT know the Lord.
"And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years...and all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel." (Judges 2:8, 10)
If this were now, and it was you and I who had said "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord", then that next generation who fell away would be our children.
Does that hit close to home for you? It does for me.
And that's why I'm going to put more time and intentional prayer into my children and their relationship with Christ. Most of them have no relationship at all with God, something which breaks my heart - but it breaks the heart of God so much more.
These past few years I made a decision to press closer into God, to saturate my heart with Jesus, to study His Word and let it bring forth life and a voice to share what I learn...and it has required me to lay down many things, to surrender my will more times than I can count. In fact every day is another lesson in humility, in laying down 'me' to take up Him.
Many days I fail, many times my selfish nature wants her own way, but more and more I'm letting Him lead the way, correct my attitude and shine the Light of truth upon situations where I am being deceived by worldly beliefs. This isn't a quick fix of Jenny, nor will it be perfected in my lifetime...but it's a decided path I'm taking, as is my husband.
I am very careful about declaring what Joshua said, because once said it must be lived out, it must be followed through, and if I veer towards the world with its millions of 'gods' to worship even in the most obscure ways then I've lied to God.
I want to serve God all the days of my life, and every day requires a fresh commitment, a decision (or many) to lay down self and do things His way...so I'm going to ask myself each morning, "Jenny, do you choose this day to serve the Lord?" and every evening, "Jenny, did you serve the Lord today?".
Only by living this out day by day till my time on earth ends will my children know what following Jesus meant to my life and I pray that will steer them from the wide road which leads to destruction and on to His narrow road of eternal life.
Only by witnessing my peace, my trust in Christ, my faith in God's Word, and my humility in admitting where I've gone wrong will they know I walked the walk.
Only by looking back over my growth as a Christian since my conversion will they understand it can be done, that I believed it was worth every tear, struggle, loss, dying to self moment and triumph.
Yes, take a lesson from Joshua's declaration, but make that decision every day because it's a very weighty oath and God will hold us accountable.
Your sister in Christ,