12-13 So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I'm commanding you today—live a good life.
This passage is a culmination of Moses' instructions to Israel as they enter into the Promised Land. He has spent a good deal of time reminding them that they are a people riddled with all kinds of rebellion, choices that are not always in keeping with what God wants for their lives, and simply selfish pursuits. Now, he asks the question: What do you think God expects from you? A question that many of us have asked along the way. For many of us, this seems like a mystery that somehow must be unfolded piece by piece, never to be fully understood. Yet, it is all recorded for us in this passage.
First - God expects us live in his presence. He wants us close to him. He wants us "in" his presence. He wants us "living" there - not just occasionally acquainted with his presence, but permanently residing there. Living in the presence of God is not some goose-bump raising, set the hair on the back of your neck up experience that occurs at the end of a worship meeting once every blue moon. It is a permanent place of comfort, peace, and certainty. It is a place that should become familiar to us - like coming into our home after a long journey away. We settle in without much thought to where we are, secure in the knowledge that we know where we are.
Second - We are to follow the road he sets out for us. If we are in his presence, it is easier to have the road illuminated before us. We are often traveling roads sought out by our own "GPS" rather than our internal guide, the Holy Spirit. We make all kinds of wrong turns, get circumnavigated, and find ourselves back where we started - but with all kinds of totally avoidable wear and tear on our "chassis". God may not always reveal the destination when he reveals the road. I have great comfort in knowing that he goes before me - so any road he reveals has to be the right road. How do we know it is the right road? When we are in the presence of God - living, abiding there - there is a confirmation that comes as we set out on that journey. That is why it is so important to be in his presence.
Third - We are to love and serve him with everything we have within us. Love and service are joined actions here. Love without service is very hollow and almost insincere in its nature. Serving God is more than being involved as a teacher at our church or feeding the homeless at a soup kitchen. It is a sensitivity to the very needs around us and then being God's arms and feet in a lost and dying world. Notice that our service and devotion is to be with everything we have within us. It is not superficial. We develop this kind of devotion by spending time together - in his presence our love is cultivated, our service is perfected.
Fourth - We are to obey the commandments of God. This requires that we know what they are. This is a reminder to us to spend time getting to know our God by frequently exposing ourselves to the truths contained about him in his Word. When we get into the Word and it gets into us, the love and service are natural outcomes. The pursuit of his paths is a delightful thing and the experience of his presence becomes more consistent in our lives. The Word is a powerful tool - revealing within us the character of God. We may not think we are getting much from it, but in the course of time, it affects us. It is the consistency that results in the learning.
Last, but not least - We are to live a good life. It is encouraging to me that God wants us to live a "good" life. He doesn't want us "chafing" on our journey, "resisting" his teaching, or "regretting" the time we spend in service. In fact, he wants these things to be a way of life - the life he calls "good".
A journey begins with one step. Each "leg" of the journey brings different experiences. Each experience provokes different emotional connections. But...a journey never begun, or abandoned along the way, is really a wasted journey! If you haven't begun the journey, step out today. If you have begun the journey, but find yourself as having given up - start again - right from where you are at today. There are new "legs" of this life-journey he is waiting to reveal to you today - live the life he calls "good".