Commitment. For as long as I can remember I have struggled with following through on the things that I start. For a while, I thought it had to do with my ability to be consistent.
Funnily enough my grades were fairly consistent when I was in school and in the working environment, I’m usually good at doing what needs to be done at the appointed time – even if it gets mind-numbing. I’m not so good at being consistent when it comes to hobbies, personal growth or chasing my dreams.
Recently I began asking the question: why am I so consistently inconsistent?
The answer I got? It’s about your ability to commit.
What does commitment have to do with consistency? I wondered. This is what I found out:
Being consistent means doing the things that need to be done as many times as it needs to be completed to finish whatever task is being worked on.
Commitment speaks to the level of dedication that I put into it. It measures my faithfulness.
As I started going through the bible to learn more about commitment, I realized that most of the times the word used to denote the level of devotion I was looking for was the word faithful.
The account of Noah was particularly striking in my mind. Yes, you know Noah, the man who preached for years about a thing he’d never seen before. If there’s a man that can teach us about how to be committed it would be him. We read his story in Genesis 6:13-9:29. From Noah we learn three main things:
God says to Noah, “I’m going to destroy the earth and I want you to build a boat to save all the people who want to be saved as well as, the land animals and birds. Oh, and you will also be saving your three sons and their wives.”
Moses didn’t give us all the details, but from what we are able to piece together in the account, we realize that either Noah’s sons were very young and therefore single, or they hadn’t even been born yet.
When God came to Noah with this prediction of things to come, Noah could have scoffed at him. ‘There was no such thing as rain. What did the word ‘flood’ mean?’ But he didn’t. Noah believed God because his relationship with him was such that he did not need to question God. He knew instinctively that God was telling the truth.
He believed that a flood would happen because God said it would. This was a man who had never seen rain much less flooding.
How many times does God tell us about something that he’s going to do in our lives that we scoff at? We don’t see how it could be possible so we limit the hand of the God who created everything.
That’s what Sarah did when she was told that she was going to have a baby. She was 98 years old. It wasn’t physically possible for her to have a child, yet, that’s what the angel said would happen. So she laughed. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” The angel asked (Genesis 18:14).
What are you asking God to do for you today? Do you believe he can do it? Or does a tiny voice inside tell you all the reasons he can’t do what you’re asking him to?
Let’s be clear –God isn’t Santa Clause.
He doesn’t have to give us everything we want because we ask him to. He’s more concerned with sanctifying us so that we will be ready when his son returns. But – and it’s a big but – he is capable of doing any and everything. Those things that we think are impossible? They are not impossible for him.
The Bible doesn’t tell us Noah’s profession. We do know that God felt that he was capable enough to build a boat. Did the pre-flood people build boats? We don’t know but this would have been larger than anything they had ever seen.
We do know that detailed instructions were provided on what the boat should look like. However, unlike the building of the Tabernacle and the Temple at Jerusalem, there’s no record that God had the material delivered as he did with the children of Israel. You can read those two accounts in Exodus 36:1-7 and I Chronicles 29:2-8.
Noah had to source and procure all the things that were needed to build the ark that was estimated to be 450 feet x 75 feet x 45 feet. It would have taken many tons of wood, gallons of pitch and a whole lot of hours to get this project completed.
A lot of times we are told that if we want to see real change in our lives we have to invest in ourselves. This means making a commitment to ensure that the resources are available.
When we want to learn a new skill, we have to determine what tools will be required, we also need to determine the time commitment and decide if we are able to fit those into the budget and the schedule.
Once we know what's needed, we have to dedicate the time and allocate the resources to accomplish our goal.
Let me see a show of hands of people who give up pretty quickly when things get hard … oh I see, just me then. When I have a choice in the matter, the minute things get rough, I get going. Exercise routine too hard? Oh, well, that means I can’t exercise today. Forget about the beach body that I’ve been working on since 2001.
Ooh I want to learn a new language… but after the first few lessons I give up because it’s just too hard. I hate conjugations. I don’t why nouns have a gender (if your first language is not English I apologize, I’m just venting. I have the greatest respect for persons who speak multiple languages and wish everyone in the world had the same linguistic ability).
Let’s just imagine me as Noah for a second.
God: “I’m going to send a flood to destroy the earth.”
Me: “What’s a flood God? Why are you going to destroy the earth?”
God: “Everything that mankind thinks of is pure evil.”
Me: “Okay. But what did the animals do?”
God: “Noah. It’s going happen. Now, I need you to build an ark that meets these criteria” and he lists them out.
Now let’s just pretend in this scenario I’m actually excited about this huge project that God has put me on. I excitedly grab my papyrus notebook and my reed pens and start making long lists of all the things I need to get and all the steps involved in building this great floating home/zoo.
I eagerly collect everything - only now my space is cluttered and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. I don’t remember where I put the gallons of pitch and the framework of the ark is a little bit lean. Pretty soon I’d be throwing up my hands and telling God that I can’t do it. The job’s just too big.
Is that you, sweet friend? Do you ask God to let you be a part of something big only to start feeling flustered and frustrated when the time commitment or the level of effort is greater than you thought it would be? Me too.
That’s why these lessons are in the Bible for us. They are there to show us the value of faithfulness.
I believe there’s a reason the word we know as commitment is translated as faithfulness – it’s because we can’t truly commit to something without faith. We have to believe before we can start investing in something.
Until we start believing in our value and that we can accomplish our goals, we will not be dedicated to the cause. This is a really big deal because when we are devoted to doing the things that God called us to do, it may involve doing some things we never even thought about.
When Noah agreed to build an ark:
He committed to be the caretaker of a floating zoo – the first of its kind.
He became a part-time lay preacher.
He became a project manager.
He had to be a surveyor.
He was an inventory clerk.
There were so many other roles that came from his decision to build an ark. As I get older, I become more aware that consistency is directly related to the level of commitment and that commitment is required in every area of life.
We need commitment in a marriage or any long-term relationship. We need to be committed to raising our children according to godly principles. We need commitment in our walk with Christ.
We commit to developing the gifts and talents that he has given us for his glory. It’s for these reasons and many others that we have to be intentional about our faithfulness. Without faith, we can achieve nothing.
What do you find most challenging about commitment? What’s the one area you want to work on this week?