It was 1979 when Bob Dylan told the world, “You gotta serve somebody,” in a hit song by that name. The message was clear — everyone is serving something or someone. Rich or poor, sick or healthy, famous or unknown, we all are serving someone by choice or by not making a choice.Today’s readings challenge us to make a choice — to be conscious about who or what we will serve with our lives. In the first reading, Joshua gathers “all the tribes of Israel” and says, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve — the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." The people remember how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and led the, albeit circuitously, to the Promised Land. “Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God,” they say.In today’s Gospel reading, some people are finding that following Jesus is too hard, and they are leaving his ministry. Jesus asks his disciples, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter’s response is immediate. “Master, to whom shall we go,” he asks rhetorically. “You have the words of eternal life.”The desire to do well and to be admired by others is strong — the risks and benefits very tangible. The experience of the unconditional, infinite love of God can be harder to put one’s finger on.That, of course, was Bob Dylan’s point. Everyone is serving someone or something, hoping he or she or it has the power to make them happy. Wouldn’t you rather be serving something that can deliver what is promised? To whom shall we go? Shall we serve money, power, fame, popularity or beauty? Can these things make us happy forever?I feel like I get offers of happiness all the time. Every time I turn on the television, open a Web page, or listen to the radio, someone is promising to make me happy. If I just buy the right car, drink the right beer, wear the right clothes, have the right body, people will love me and I will be happy. Most retailers would love for us to be in their service, organizing our lives and priorities to acquire their products and all the material and emotional benefits they offer.It seems pretty obvious, when you look at it objectively, that serving God is a better bet than serving anything or anyone else. It just isn’t always very easy to do; at least it isn’t easy for me. We may know in our heads that success and relationships do not have the power to hurt us or heal us, but it is still easy, at least for me, to live in their power. The desire to do well and to be admired by others is strong — the risks and benefits very tangible. The experience of the unconditional, infinite love of God can be harder to put one’s finger on. We all have to serve someone. We all are serving someone. May it be the One who has the words of eternal life. Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].