Summary: Cling to the Lord, because you can count on Him. Don't cling to the world, because it will con you.
Several years ago, Our Daily Bread told the story of an elderly man, who lay in a hospital with his wife of 55 years sitting at his bedside. “Is that you, Ethel, at my side again?” he whispered.
“Yes, dear,” she answered.
He softly said to her, “Remember years ago when I was in the Veteran's Hospital? You were with me then. You were with me when we lost everything in the fire. And Ethel, when we were poor—you stuck with me then too.”
The man sighed and said, “I tell you, Ethel, you are bad luck.” (Our Daily Bread, 1-18-00; www.PreachingToday.com)
I’m sure he said it with a twinkle in his eye, appreciative of her love and loyalty over the years through good times and bad.
However, this old joke raises a question: Who is worthy of your life-long loyalty? Who deserves your unending commitment? To whom should you cling the rest of your life? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Joshua 23, Joshua 23, where another old man, with long years of hard experience, talks about the only One he has found worth clinging to forever.
Joshua 23:1-2 A long time afterward, when the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. (ESV)
Joshua gathers all the leaders of Israel together for one last meeting. For 40 years, they had been through the agonies and ecstasies of establishing a new nation in a new land. They had experienced times of victory and defeat. They enjoyed times of great celebration together and even endured a time of near civil war. God has been good to them through it all!
Joshua 23:3-5 And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the LORD your God who has fought for you. Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. The LORD your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the LORD your God promised you. (ESV)
There are still some nations to conquer, but God will drive them out just as He promised. He has been faithful to you. Now, you be faithful to Him.
Joshua 23:6-8 Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. (ESV)
God has stuck with you. Now, you stick with Him. Don’t pursue other gods. Instead, be faithful to the One who has been faithful to you.
After years of hard experience, the old man, Joshua, advises his leaders and us today, “Cling to the Lord.” Stick with Him. Commit the rest of your life to God. It’s the only way to be all that God has called you to be.
Think about it. Why do some musicians or athletes excel while others remain mediocre? In his book The Social Animal, David Brooks points to current research that reveals the common denominator in attaining excellence in a field: a long-term commitment. Brooks writes:
In 1997 Gary McPherson studied 157 randomly selected children as they picked out and learned a musical instrument. Some went on to become fine musicians and some faltered. McPherson searched for the traits that separated those who progressed from those who did not. IQ was not a good predictor. Neither were aural sensitivity, math skills, income, or a sense of rhythm. The best single predictor was a question McPherson asked the students before they even selected their instruments: How long do you think you will play? The students who planned to play for a short time did not become very proficient. The students who planned to play for a few years had modest success. But there were some children who said, in effect: “I want to be a musician. I'm going to play my whole life.” Those children soared. (David Brooks, The Social Animal, Random House, 2011, pp. 134-135; www.PreachingToday.com)
So it is with those who choose to follow Jesus. Those who say, “I’ll try it for a little while,” usually don’t do well. But those who say, “I’m going to follow Jesus my whole life,” soar! Oh, they may stumble often, but over the long haul, they become all that God has called them to be.