These are lessons from the Israelites which we still struggle to learn two millennia later. Joshua told them they must choose and decide to leave their idols behind, just as Jacob said generations before Joshua. And like the Israelites we promise to bury our idols. We choose God with all the enthusiasm of the moment and with good intention. It's just that lives are full and intention gets put behind the demands of the day. Commitments, transportation, traffic, appointments, conference calls, the list is endless and it demands our time and sucks away our ability to act on intention. We really do mean to keep our focus on God, to maintain priorities, just as soon as we get through this project deadline. And so it goes.
We face the same struggle in all important relationships, the challenge of really being present to someone else. Listening to and really hearing someone, their words, their body language, their feeling, is the greatest gift we can give another person. One can spend hours in counseling just to learn this 'secret'. But when it comes to God, it is no secret only the heart of the first commandment; to love the Lord with all the heart, soul, and mind.
How do we do it? Well, Joshua says we can't. It is impossible to truly 'serve' the Lord with our complete devotion, and yet, God demands nothing less. Are we set up for failure? No, we are 'set-up' for a lifetime of relationship. We are to 'serve' or be devoted to God, not as an accomplished fact, but as a commitment to maintain constant communication. In our attempt to be faithful, to at least stay conversant, we experience God's grace as the Holy One recognizes our inability to be completely devoted. It's a circle of promise from the God who loves us.