“Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now. For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God. But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you” (Joshua 23:8-13, NLT).
When I was in High School, I was blessed with the opportunity to play Lucy Van Pelt in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” the musical. Shortly after accepting the role, however, I quickly realized that Lucy was indeed the mean one of the bunch, and not Sally, the nice one, as I had imagined. You can almost hear my gulp, if you listen quietly when I then found out I had to *fake* punch my baby brother Linus in his all famous scene, “My Blankey and Me.” And that got me thinking this: What if we clung as tightly to God as Linus did his blanket, and Lucy, her ignorance? What if we decided to adhere to Heavenly things, rather than the worldly pleasures that only leave us as empty-handed as Linus after Lucy viciously rips the blanket out of his hand? Because in all reality, isn’t that what Satan, the Father of Lies, does to our sense of morality, peace, and comfort when we trade in his views for Gods? When we believe the lies that “this new iPhone, this new boyfriend, this new car, this pay raise, this new job, this dream you’ve always wanted” will bring us Heavenly joy?
In John 10:10, we know that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” but Christ, “comes to give life and life to the fullest” (John 10:10, NLT). Yet, if we genuinely resonate with this fact, then why do we discard it like an opinion when it comes to the things we cling and grasp so tightly?
And you know exactly what I’m talking about, those things you wouldn’t dare let go of, even if Lucy had to pry them from your Linus’ hands.
That job you adore
That workout plan that keeps you fit
That videogame you can’t put down
That social media you keep comparing yourself to
That god you’ve built up in your mind, now never wanting to let go.
Some good things (minus the last one)! But if we hold them closer than Christ, closer than our relationship with Him that should be as tightly woven together as a magnetic plate is to a supersized and magnified microscope, then perhaps we need to take a look at what we’re clinging.
Relatedly, I believe that the people of Israel in Joshua 23:8-13 can teach us a lesson here. Nearing the end of his life, Joshua passes on a message to his ancestors that as they go on to live life without him, they must always remember where they came from, the journey endured, and the God they had to cling so tightly to survive along the steep road.
In Joshua 23, verse 8, the Scriptures say, “Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now” (Joshua 23:8, NLT). Backing up a few verses, we see in lines 6-7, that Joshua was reminding the people to be on guard and watch for staying in obedience to the Lord’s Commands. And why? Because He knew their past! He knew their struggles with other gods. He knew the temptations they were so easily prone to, and thus, as any good leader and friend, he wanted to warn them of such an enticing, appealing, and good looking/feeling sin.
And I can’t help but smile, knowing God does the same for us every single day. He knows your gods. He knows your idols. He knows where you invest your time, talents, and treasures of the heart. But, He also madly desires to love you and have you cling to Him, as fiercely as you do all these worldly things.
If everything else were to be stripped away
Would Jesus be enough? Would clinging to Him and all He has to offer be enough for you?
For like the Israelites, those who choose to cling to Jesus over everything have a great reward in store, but those who get trapped and easily ensnared by the counterfeit, they have nothing but “thorny brambles” and sorrow to look forward to as they depart from the “good land the Lord your God has given you” (Joshua 23:12-13, NLT).
The opening night of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” something funny happened when I went to rip the blanket from Linus’ hands. Even though we’d practiced the move hundreds of times, this time, on opening night, I almost fell when I went to grab the blanket, perhaps because I was trying to grasp too tightly onto something that was never meant to be mine, or because when we let go of what we have and try to latch onto something that will cause us to stumble, we really only end up sad, hurt, and “blanketless” on the inside.
What are you clinging to today my friend? Things that will build a Kingdom, or things that will keep you warm and cozy in your earthly house, but rip you of all source of peace, comfort, and love in your Heavenly one?