This week we talk about one of the hardest things for the average person to do: commitment. Whatever the task, I can tell you being committed is as difficult as it is rewarding. Let’s talk about it.
I grew up in a family of athletes. My Dad was a football coach and my three brothers were all football players from middle school into their college years. And then there was me. The runt of the litter. Even my little brother was bigger, faster and stronger than me. As I entered high school I was not even five feet tall and I weighed 99 pounds. I remember having a conversation with my dad about sports as I entered high school. He was asking me what sport I was going to play in high school. I told him I was not interested in being some big senior’s tackling dummy so I was not planning on playing any sports. I was just going to do school. He reminded that there were other sports than just football, and that I did not need to give up athletics just because of my size.
I told him I understood, but was not interested in sports. That's when my dear old Dad drew a hard line in the sand. He said that he expected me to pour all my free time into my grades, and sense I would have so much more time to focus on school than my brothers, that he expected my grades to be that much better than theirs. He said that with all my free time I should not bring home any grades lower than a 95. The next words out of my mouth to him were, “I think I’ll join the swim team Dad. I always loved swimming so why not do it in high school.” My dad grinned and said he thought I made a good choice.
My Dad was committed me. He made sure I occupied my time with positive things. He knew I needed the discipline that physical activity offers. He also knew what kind of trouble I could get into if given the time, opportunity and energy. Because of Dad’s commitment to me, I became committed to swimming. I was never all that good, but that was never the point. I learned to race the clock, to count the personal improvements, and that hustle counts.
I ended up earning a letter jacket my freshman year. Sounds impressive, but I did not letter based on my skill. I lettered because I was committed. I was committed to passing my classes and to working hard at swimming. Our relay team qualified for regionals, but one of the guys on the team was not committed to his grades. He failed out and as the only other guy on the team with passing grades, I was moved into his spot!
As an undersized and under talented freshman, I reaped the rewards of commitment. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 Paul speaks of the rewards of commitment to Christ:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
My forced commitment to swimming led to years of rewards. But that’s nothing compared to what I’ll get for my commitment to Christ. I love the reminders that Paul gives: Fight, run, and keep the faith. When hard times come (following Jesus ALWAYS comes with hard times) we have an example in Paul. He fought the good fight-so should we. He ran the race. Laziness was not an option for Paul nor is it an option for us. He kept the faith. He was committed to living like Jesus even when it gets hard. The same should go for us. Be encouraged. Commitment counts.
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