Some of you may have heard of Whirlyball. It’s a team building game that combines basketball, lacrosse, and bumper cars into a single sport for the purpose of seeing who can score the most points in a limited time. The way the game works is by splitting up 12 people into two teams and giving them scoops and a bumper car in order to toss a ball at a square target on either sides of the arena to score points. The trickiest part of the game is being able to maneuver the bumper car with one hand while still focusing on where the ball is and where your teammates are.
When it comes to the bumper cars, many people will go every way except the direction they want to go. Often times people will sit in one spot and turn the steering wheel multiple times wondering why they are stuck in one spot. Other times if the steering is turned too quickly, they will swerve too far to the right or left instead of going straight. This may be a weird analogy but when I was reading about the life of Josiah, the youngest King of Israel, this game came to mind.
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He did right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. | 2 Chronicles 34:1-2
The verses above about Josiah aren’t too descriptive, but we are still able to learn so much about his character and life just by what is said here. We know that Josiah was the youngest king of Israel and that he reigned in that position for thirty one years. That means he was only thirty nine years old when he died. During that short period of time he left an amazing legacy!
First off, to be proclaimed a king at the age of eight is a feat in itself. Think about having that much control and power at eight years old. I know that if I was in his shoes and was given the title of ‘King of Israel’ at that age, I would have been the most reckless, irresponsible, shortsighted king in history! I would most likely abuse the power that was given to me and exploit it all for my own benefit. We read from the life of Josiah that he did the exact opposite of that. It reads in verse two that he walked in the ways of David who was known as the “man after God’s own heart” and that he didn’t turn to the right or the left when leading the nation.
What exactly does it mean to turn to the right or the left? The verses are implying that Josiah walked the straight and narrow path, meaning he disciplined himself and his character to be righteous in all of his actions. At the age of eight, being the most powerful person in the nation, he could have made selfish decisions that benefited himself, sought his own pleasures, and enjoyed the attractions the world had to offer him without any remorse – but he didn’t! He stayed focused on the task at hand, which was to direct the nation to fear the Lord and remove any hindrance that got in the way of that.
One thing that we have to keep in mind about Israel is that they were a wayward nation that was so easily attracted to the sins and practices of the surrounding nations. They so quickly slipped into idol worship, fornication, and just forgetting Who they belonged to and where they came from in times of plenty. Through all those obstacles these grown people struggled with, Josiah was able to keep the nation on the right path and stay incorruptible himself. That is such an amazing legacy to keep! We even read in 2 Kings how he ranked among all the kings of Israel that had reigned before him OR would ever reign after him.
Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him. | 2 Kings 24:25
Wow! Those are powerful words to be labeled with! Imagine if you were given the same recognition that Josiah was given in terms of your Christian walk. What an honor that would be! Standing before the throne of God and being recognized as the one person who served God righteously without turning to the right or the left – it is quite the legacy!
We may think to ourselves that none of that would be possible because of our sin nature or because we have made so many wrong choices up to this point in life. That’s okay! Luckily we serve a God who doesn’t hold on to past mistakes, but rather values present and future decisions. None of us are perfect except Christ, but we can all strive to be like Him. As believers, we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us to make the right choices when we face tough situations. It is so easy to be led astray by the glamorous attractions the world offers us. But when we keep that eternal goal in mind and remember what we are living for, everything the world has to offer us seems so insignificant. When we reach the gates of the heavenly kingdom, God should be able to tell us these words:
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ | Matthew 25:23
We have been given a few things here on this earth to be in charge of. Those include living a life of worship that honors our Creator, making the right choices when that isn’t the most easy or popular thing to do, having a desire to reach out to lost souls, and serving through the local churches/ministries that we may be a part of. When we stand before the throne of God, will He be able to label us as “good and faithful servants?”