JANUARY 9, 2006

A Revival in Your Commitment
by Pastor George Van Alstine

Leading up to Christmas, I wrote Messenger articles challenging you to look for a
Revival in Your Faith, and a
Revival in Your Relationships.
I’ve waited until after New Year’s Day to write about the third area in which you may need to think about change in your life—asking God for a
Revival in Your Commitment.

Living where we do at the end of the Rose Parade route, I have had a practice of saving a front-row viewing area for family, friends and visitors from out-of-town. Preparation begins just after Thanksgiving, and it intensifies during the week after Christmas. Judy supports me in this, but reminds me periodically that it is my “thing.â€?

I am really committed to my “thing.â€? This year’s experience was a test of my commitment. All week we heard dire reports about the likelihood of a major rain storm during the parade. Many people scoffed: “It never rains on the Rose Parade; God won’t let it.â€? Actually, it had been fifty years since significant rainfall during the parade.

I went forward with my usual pattern of saving the space— re-marking it two days before, being on-site 6:30 am on the day before the parade, lining up people to help me guard the area over the next 24 hours. Some of them were less than enthusiastic, but that didn’t stop me.

Nor did the forecasters’ assurance that the likelihood of heavy rain overnight and during the parade was 100%! Late that evening I set up an air mattress and my sleeping bag and covered the whole thing with a large blue tarp. I went to “bedâ€? about 11:30 pm. I dozed off to the comforting rhythmic sound of rain drops on my tarp.

About 3:30 am I woke up, aware of being wet in several places. I found that the tarp was not completely waterproof and that one corner had been blown off by the wind. Attempts to adjust were unsuccessful, so I got up. I found that I was the only person on the entire block who had slept out that long. There didn’t seem to be much demand for the space I had so courageously saved.

Still undaunted, I changed to dry clothes, had a cup of coffee and went back to the spot. I remained there, pretty consistently, right on through the parade itself. Most of that time it rained heavily, with little letup.

Before I finally settled into my dry and cozy home, I had gone through three pairs of pants and three pairs of shoes. My soaked sleeping bag was draped over a backyard fence.

Some people think the crucial question in measuring commitment is:
“What are you willing to die for?â€?
Others have countered that a more telling questions is:
“What are you willing to live for?â€?
Right now, a more realistic question seems to be:
“What are you willing to get wet for?â€?

I was willing to get wet for a group of people most of whom, in the end, decided to stay home. But then, it wasn’t really for them. It was for me—so that I could tell you this story and portray myself as a hero.* I was willing to be repeatedly soaked and risk pneumonia so that people might say, “That 69-year-old guy never gave up!â€?

So now I ask myself, how committed am I to the calling of being Jesus’ representative in the world? Enough to die for? Enough to live for? Enough even to get wet for?

The author of the Book of Hebrews reminds readers of the many Biblical examples of commitment: people were tortured, faced hungry lions and raging fire, were mocked and flogged and imprisoned. Some paid the ultimate price, being stoned to death, “sawn in two,â€? or killed by the sword. (Hebrews 11:32-38)

Jesus said to his followers:
“Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.â€? (Luke 14:27)

Do we consider a little inconvenience to be a “crossâ€? we have to bear? Has our commitment become weak and anemic, what in the Book of Revelation is called “lukewarmâ€? (Revelation 3:16)? What are we willing to live for? To die for?

The most important experience you can have at the beginning of 2006 is a Revival in Your Commitment. Please pause now and pray a sincere prayer expressing your personal dedication to follow Jesus, whatever it costs.

*Some might want to replace the word “heroâ€? with “fool.â€? The masses always scoff at greatness.