Jesus said that “whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall find it” (Luke 9:24). Losing one’s life for a cause is commitment; losing one’s life for Jesus’ sake would be the ultimate commitment.
Commitment in the 21st century has been put to the test as we are about to enter year three of a Flu pandemic. We tip our hats to people in the health-care field whose commitment to caring for the Covid-19 victims has been legendary and heroic for the most part. Doctors, nurses, EMT personnel and myriads of others whose sacrificial commitment has meant the difference between life and death for countless numbers of people. I know we could add teachers, Moms, neighbors, fellow church members and many others to that list.
Then, too, the selfless people who have packed up truckloads of water, food and clothing and transported life-saving essentials to tornado victims (Mayfield, KY) and to fire and flooding disaster areas, and the list seems never ending. So, to say that in the 21st century commitment is something that we know little of would be a gross misstatement. We are deeply grateful for the committed folk whose stories remain mostly untold but whose heroics have meant that people are alive today that would not otherwise have survived but for the sacrificial, tireless efforts of people of compassion and commitment.
I write as a life-long (adult life) pastor and minister of the gospel. Commitment to Christ and to His Church has also been put to the ultimate test. Pastors have in many cases had to preach to empty rooms; visitation and personal ministry, one on one, to the dying and to their families, to shut-ins who otherwise live in isolation has for all practical purposes ceased. Funerals have had to be postponed and sometimes by-passed. It is a totally different world than it was on my last full day of ministry as a senior pastor, September 9, 2019. I am saddened by the landscape of ministry in 2022 with its new and not familiar nor facilitating restraints. Many pastors and Christian workers are experiencing depression and I understand many have left the ministry and many churches are no longer in existence because of the toll taken by the pandemic. Commitment in 2022 is still needed and maybe more so now than ever.
I heard about a young man who was engaged to be married (some years ago) and he wanted a duplicate made of a picture of his beautiful fiancée. The photographer noticed on the back side of the photo this handwritten note: “My dearest Tom: I love you with all of my heart. I love you more each day. I will love you for ever and ever. I am yours for all eternity. Signed, Diane.” (“P.S. If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”) Not exactly the kind of commitment you need in order to build anything!
At the other end of the commitment spectrum was the testimony of Sophie who worked in a large apartment complex. A resident once said to Sophie, “Say, Sophie, I understand that you are a Christian.” “Yes, Sir, I am a child of the King,” she replied without hesitation. “Oh! So, you must be a Princess, since God is your King.” “I sure am.” “Well, if God is your Father, and you are a Princess and a child of a King, do you not think it is beneath your dignity to be found here in New York City scrubbing these dirty steps?” Not daunted, Sophie replied, “There’s no humiliation whatsoever. You see, I am not scrubbing these steps for Mr. Brown, my boss. I am scrubbing them for Jesus Christ, my Savior!” (copied/unknown)
I read once about an Afghan doctor who was practicing under the Taliban and could not examine his female patients unless they were fully clothed. He would shout instructions for surgery, if needed, as he stood outside the operating room in the hallway. For all of this, he received $30 a month if he were paid, yet many months there was no paycheck issued. When asked why he would continue working this way for 30 years, he replied, “Love of profession. Love of Country.” That kind of commitment to a profession, under the most inhibiting restraints, is pretty much unheard of in today’s world, Christian or otherwise.
The title of this post is “If I Falter, Push Me On.” That is part of a fuller statement, known as the motto of the French Foreign Legion, “If I Falter, Push Me On; If I Stumble, Pick Me Up; If I Retreat, Shoot Me.”
I am writing this and sharing some thoughts on commitment because it behooves all of us who name His blessed Name, the name of Jesus, who said that if we would lose our lives for His sake, we would in fact save them, to examine our own commitment to His cause, to His commission and to His Church.
One time it is said that a Rwandan believer was forced by His tribe to either renounce Christ or face certain death. He refused to give up his allegiance to His Savior and was executed on the spot. The night before he had written “The Fellowship of the Unashamed,” which reads:
“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made—I’m a disciple of His.
I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure.
I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.
I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am lifted up by prayer and I labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable and my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, let up until, I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work until He stops me…And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me…my banner will be clear.” (Unknown)