I can’t really sing. Oh, I can hit the notes, usually close enough to blend in with the group, but I can’t sing well. And I don’t like doing things I don’t do well (consequently, I do almost nothing at all!)
What’s this have to do with God? Well, here’s the story: the place where I worship is doing a Sukkot Concert, and because I am a Bass, I was asked to join the chorus by my Pastor. I really didn’t want to do it at first, and still feel very out-of-place in the midst of people who have a nice singing voice and who can hit the notes with proper support and timbre, but I agreed because I can, at least, help fill out the sound.
So, I committed to help. Have I had second thoughts? Oh, gee- the second thoughts were right after I said I would. Then came the third thoughts after I tried to sing the part (isn’t the Bass supposed to have low notes? Almost the entire concert is at the high range of the bass), and now, with about 3 weeks to the concert, I am on the tenth thoughts.
If you’re reading this Pastor Andy, don’t worry- I committed myself to be a part of this and I will meet my commitment. Not because I know I can help, which I can; and not because I love to sing, which I do even though I don’t do it well; but because this is a devotion to God as much, if not more, than doing something you asked of me.
Just because someone asks us to do something doesn’t mean we have to, but when we agree, or when we devote ourselves to doing something for God, that does require us to follow through. Yeshua tells us not to swear by Heaven or Earth, and the Torah is very clear that an oath made to God must be completed. I said I would sing with the chorus, and until someone tells me that my absence is more helpful than my presence, I will follow through.
It isn’t easy. I have my part on CD and practice going to work and driving home, and on the weekend. I do the exercises Andy gave me to help recover the breath control I had as a kid when I played in the band. I hear myself getting a little better, and pray that God will intervene to help me meet this commitment in a good way, being beneficial to the project.
But it’s hard. I have constant thoughts about dropping out, partly from embarrassment and partly from just not wanting to do something outside my everyday rut. Those two things, being uncomfortable and having to do something outside the usual, are the very reasons I need to finish. Because I said I would do this I will, and despite my kvetching and whiny-cry-baby attitude, I am enjoying myself to a degree I didn’t think I would. And I know it will sound beautiful because it is not all about me; I am just part of the group.
We all need to follow through with what we commit to, whether for people or for God (especially for God.) The reason we need to follow through is to strengthen ourselves, mentally and spiritually, as preparation for the Acharit HaYamim, the End Days. We don’t know when they will come, and I really believe we are living in prophetic times. We are seeing the world coming apart, children killing children, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes in fury beyond what we have seen before, all over the world. Wars, and threats of war; all the things that have been happening, not to mention the vast throngs of Jewish people returning to Jerusalem, and the number of Gentiles that are coming behind Israel and helping people to make Aliyah, all indicate we are close. Because we are close, we need to prepare.
“Chesty” Puller, one of the most decorated war heroes ever (and a Marine, of course. Uh-Rah!!) used to say, “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.” That holds true for spiritual training, as well. We need to make sure we are strong, spiritually and mentally. Imagine, if I can’t stay the course with a simple commitment to sing in a group (where I won’t be heard, anyway), how much less will I be able to remain faithful to God when I am standing before the Enemy asking if I want the mark on my head or my right hand? When you are there, and there’s a really good chance you will be, are you absolutely certain you can stand firm and say “Not a chance, horn-head!”?
Even if I don’t go through the Tribulation, the lead-up will be pretty bad, and we don’t know, not for sure, when the Tribulation will be. There are as many people who are “Pre-Trib” as there are “Post-Trib.” I don’t know which it is, and (frankly) I don’t care- it won’t make any difference because whatever God wants to do, He will. I don’t have a vote, ya’ know? So, why worry? What I can do is get ready. Get that armor of God Shaul talks about in Ephesians all polished up and ready, wear it around every day so I get used to it. David didn’t wear any armor when he faced Golyat because, as he told King Saul, he wasn’t used to it. I, you, everyone of us, need to get used to wearing the spiritual armor that will help us secure our salvation. Revelations tells us that most- not some, not a few, not every now and then someone- but MOST of the Believers will be turned from the faith in the End Days. Most means more than half- that’s a lot. That means my chances of remaining faithful in the midst of the greatest battle of my life has less than a 50-50 chance of success.
That means you have less than a 50-50 chance of keeping your salvation, also.
Commitments shouldn’t be made hastily, and once made, must be kept. If you realize that you made a gigantic mistake, and you committed to something that ends up being illegal or sinful, well, yes- get the heck out now! We all make mistakes, and if you make one, correct it. But for those everyday commitments, and for those major ones where other people depend on you to do what you said you would do, you must meet them. Even if it hurts. In fact, it should hurt. It should be hard to do, otherwise it isn’t a commitment, it’s something you want to do. No big deal doing something you want to do. It’s like when Yeshua said that even sinners do good things for people they like. Commitment has to be hard to do in order to build up that spiritual strength. You develop muscle by destroying muscle. We build up our spiritual strength by using it, by testing it, by stretching it beyond where we are comfortable. This is how we get spiritually stronger and more mature, and it also increases our self-confidence so during tribulations and trials, we can speak out with confidence about our faith.
Make commitments carefully; and, once made, complete them joyfully (don’t whine and cry like I’m doing) and completely. Work those spiritual muscles, develop sinews of Spirit that are as strong as steel.
You’re gonna need ’em.