Scripture Reading: Joshua 24:15: But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
In our scripture reading today, we find Joshua near the end of his life. Joshua had built an impressive resume over the years. He was with Moses, as his assistant, and he was present as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Joshua saw the parting of the Red Sea and he was there for the long wanderings in the desert. Joshua saw God part the Jordan River and bring down the walls of Jericho. Joshua was one of the twelve spies that were sent into Canaan to report back to the Israelites about the Promised Land. Joshua (and Caleb) believed in God’s promise of the Promised Land, while everyone else around them wanted to go back to Egypt, into slavery.
And now, nearing the end of his life, Joshua was telling his fellow Israelites that he and his household would serve the Lord. He was also trying to get them to make the same commitment to follow God, who had delivered them out of slavery into a land of promise.
When I first met my father-in-law, Rawdon Akins, I immediately knew that his household served the Lord. I first noticed it when we sat down for a meal and Rawdon prayed. There was never a time that I sat down with him that a prayer was not said over a meal. He never forgot or was too tired to thank God for what had been given to him and his family.
What Rawdon was saying to me, and to anyone else, who was present, was that his household served and honored the Lord. It’s not just something you say; rather it’s something that you live out every day of your life. I’m not saying that Rawdon was perfect or that his family was perfect. None of us are perfect. We stumble, we sin and we wander away from God many times throughout the day. But Rawdon always came back to find God, to thank him and to say, my household, my family, we belong to God.
In 2009 while Rawdon was in the hospital, his pastor was visiting him. Pastor Harry said that just as he got into the room and said hello, Rawdon asked him if he was going to pray. There was no doubt that this man and his household served the Lord. Rawdon wasn’t worried about a nurse, a doctor, or visitors in the room, he wanted to pray. And he wasn’t embarrassed to say that he followed God.
Rawdon passed away on July 18, 2009 but his memory will live on in our lives forever. I wish that he could have been with us much longer to pass along his wisdom on how to be a true follower of Christ. He did leave behind a legacy for his family to follow because there was never any question that this man and his household served God.
I try to measure my life and myself against my father-in-law, and I usually find myself lacking. He set an example for me and he encouraged and supported me in my ministry. Most importantly, he believed in me and he gave me plenty of good advice that I still think about today. I hope that one day my family will remember me in the same way that I remember my father-in-law.
Joshua 24:24: And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”