Background Scripture: Deuteronomy 30. Devotional Reading: Joshua 24:14-24.
I realize that the title, “Yes, I can!” is reminiscent of our most recent presidential campaign. But the truth that lies behind it is one of those immutable facts of life that belong to no one – except God. “Yes, I can!” is what God always says and does whenever the world says, “No!” Easter was God’s powerful “Yes!” to humanity’s “No!”
That is the theme of Deuteronomy 30. God has pronounced his blessings in 28:1-14 and his curses in 28:15-68, and according to chapter 29, Israel lay in ruins, the people scattered into exile in foreign lands. When the shock and terror have somewhat subsided, they have asked themselves whether Israel is finished. Can it be reborn, restored? And the short answer of Deuteronomy 30 is the voice of God, saying “Yes, I can!” THE LONG ANSWER
The long answer simply gives more detail to the short one: “And when all these things come upon you,
the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you,
and you call them to mind among all the nations where
the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord
your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in
all that I command you this day, with all your heart and
with all your soul; then the Lord your God will restore
your fortunes, and have compassion upon you, and he
will gather you again from all the peoples where the
Lord you God has scattered you”
Despite God’s willingness to start over again, none of this takes place unless the people are ready and willing to return to him. He will not turn back the clock as if all this had never happened, but is willing to start again, to build on the ruins, physical and spiritual, if they – or even some of the people – are ready to return to him and with him.
Reading Dr. Martin Marty’s The Christian World: A
(Modern Library, NY, 2007), I have been surprised to find that in some places, Christianity has flowered and later disappeared, only to bloom again centuries later. For example, some of the earliest missionaries planted Christianity in Asia, where for more than a thousand years it prospered before ending around 1500 AD. But Christianity is again alive and well in Asia and Marty says it shows no signs of ending. So, God is always willing to revive that which has died, or appeared to die, whenever followers of Christ choose new life. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I used to think that I needed to find answers to most questions arising from my faith, somehow making everything fit together in my head. But I have found that every answer found raised one or more new questions. I know now I will never get it altogether, but I don’t have to. God doesn’t require that we get it all figured out, but that we say “Yes, I can” and follow where he leads. It is not as difficult as we may think.
Deuteronomy assures us: “For this commandment
which I command you this day is not too hard for you,
neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should
say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us,
that we may hear it and do it.’ Neither is it beyond the
sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us,
and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it?’ But the
word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your
heart, so that you can do it”
(30:11-14). Written several thousand years ago, these words are even more contemporary than this morning’s headlines.
God’s call is renewed again and again when individuals, churches, and nations hear and respond to his offer of real life: “I call heaven and earth to witness
against you this day, that I have set before you life and
death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you
and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your
God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him…”
(30:19, 20). To our “Yes, I can,” he answers “Yes, I will.”