There can be no half measures in serving God; either we are fully committed, or not. There is the narrow way – or the broad way. Our first reading today describes the success of King Saul when he began his reign, he did serve God – he began well, encouraged and guided by Samuel. We have no Samuel to guide us, but we have God’s word – all of it. Samuel exhorts the people and Saul, “Serve the LORD with all your heart … do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit … Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you … Fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20,21,23,24). People occupy their minds with ‘empty things’. We are going to read in coming days about the failure of Saul to follow God with all his heart – a lesson for us.
Next – what a wonderful vision Isaiah records for us, it is somewhat parallel to Samuel’s. He tells God’s people not to “labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me …” (55:2). We can read – diligently – what God has caused to be written and preserved – “Seek the LORD while he may be found” (verse 6) is an even more urgent call to us today. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and … water the earth, making it bring forth … so shall my word be that goes from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose … for you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace” (verses 10-12).
Chapter 20 in Revelation spells out that wondrous time to come, a time when those who are not marked by the beast of humanity with fleshly attitudes and ambitions, but have served “the LORD with all their heart” – not being distracted and turning “aside after fleshly things” – they will have experienced wonder far beyond our comprehension when they came “to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (20:4). Parts of the final chapters of Revelation look back over time – from the perspective of timelessness. What perception of heart will then be achieved! May we develop clearness of vision and a dedicated sense of commitment with all our heart so that, by the grace of God, we will be there.