Today I am hung up yet again on a verse from Joshua. Today the verse is Joshua 23:11, but to set up 11, I will share 10 too.
One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.
It's that last part, verse 11, So be very careful to love the Lord your God, that gets me. What an interesting concept... being "careful to love". When I think I love, I don't really think of something that is careful. In the movies, all you see is crazy love. The love that causes you to chase someone down in the airport to simply say I love you. The love where two strangers meet and instantly sparks fly and a lifelong bond is formed. The love that destroys marriages because two people figure out they were "destined" to be with someone else. The crazy, irrational love where two estranged lovers run into each others arms to be caught up in a passionate embrace. But is this really what love looks like? Most often, no.
It seems so strange to read the words be very careful to love, and yet the more I think about it- it's quite a wise instruction. In fact, shouldn't we be way more careful in the way we love than crazy? Sure it's great to do crazy things every once in awhile as a result of love for someone. Like a spontaneous trip or silly love notes or a surprise visit. But overall, if I had to choose between a crazy love and a careful love- by all means, I would choose careful.
Think about that for a minute. A careful love. What does that look like? In my mind, that would be a love that is very thought out, well nurtured, well cared for, and never forgotten. Being in my first year of marriage, I have learned quite well that it is SO important to care for your love. It is so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life, the busyness of work schedules and lose sight of the great love that you have for each other because you are just too busy. That is not a careful love.
When Joshua says these words, he is basically on his deathbed saying his final words to the Israelites. He is reminding them of the great things that God has done for them, that He continues to fight for them, and he is warning/urging them to "be very careful to love the Lord your God." The Israelites have a bad track record for getting distracted by other idols and desires, so this reminder is quite important. Joshua wants to encourage them to nurture their love for God, to truly follow Him, being ever so careful to not let their love be swayed toward another.
What a great reminder and challenge. Be very careful to love. I want to be careful to love. I want my love for others in my life to be well thought out, to be intentional, to be a caring, nurtured love that I am an active participant in protecting. And even more so, I want to very carefully love the Lord my God. In this world we live in, every day is a struggle between what is good and what is evil. I wish it did not have to be that way, but it is. It is a struggle to stay grounded, to be continually focusing on the Lord in every single moment, to be a solid example of Jesus. I like the words Joshua says "be very careful to love..." To me, it is a good reminder that loving God with our lives is not easy, it is something that takes a lot of care, a lot of thought, and a lot of intentionality. There will be things that are going to try to distract us, take our focus off of our love for Him. The evil one is a sneaky little bugger and we need to be oh so careful not to let him take hold of our lives in any way.
Careful love. This is something I'd like to think more about.
But for now, I will take Joshua's words to heart. I will challenge myself to Be very careful to love the Lord my God; to protect my love for Him, and do whatever I can to keep from being distracted or swayed by the idols of this world.