Focus on Commitment

Excerpted from Focus:
A Layman's Guide to God
and an Interpersonal Relationship
with God, Self, and Others
Dr. Rev Henry Alloway, Jr.

NOTE TO READERS: THIS WILL HAVE SPECIAL INTEREST IF YOU ARE FROM DAINGERFIELD, TEXAS

One of Jesus' statements was, "The light of the body is the eye. If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Matthew 6:22 When you ponder this scripture, you see that just before this, Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21 In Matthew 6:24, He says "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Jesus lays down a very strong principle here that is like the first commandment given through Moses in Exodus 20, when he said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." This can indeed sound selfish of God for anyone who has not learned to trust Him, but for those that have embraced this truth, they have learned that God is so insistent because He wants to bless them. He wants to bring to them the deepest desires of their heart. God can do no more for you than you think when you have a single eye.

A number of years ago I had the privilege of teaching sixth graders in the public school in Daingerfield, Texas. It was a class 2-A school at that time in a state that classified schools through 4-A at that time. I taught math and science several periods of the day and I had a forty-five minute period for preparation. The sixth graders had recess for that period. I thought it would be a good idea for me to take the sixth grade boys at that time and develop an intramural program with them. I chose team captains and had them choose teams and through the year we played touch football, basketball, track, and then softball. I did this for four years and I saw a lot of good athletes develop.

In the third year, after we had completed our round-robin schedule in basketball, and crowned our champions, I called those boys together and talked with them. I said, "Fellows, I believe there is enough talent and ability in this grade, that if you would commit yourself to these three things, that you could be state champions by the time you are seniors. If you will stick together, keep good attitudes, and get your work done in the classroom, you could do it." I went on to tell them that wherever I was when they got to the state tournament, I would try and come and see them play.

The next year after basketball was completed there was one boy that was an excellent floor leader, a great competitor, and a super ball handler. I called him aside and told him what I told the group the year before him. I told him I believed that he was needed as the point-guard on that team.

I moved about 200 miles from Daingerfield the next year. Slowly, memories began to fade as several years passed by. Then one night as I was relaxing at home, the phone rang. I was greeted by a friendly voice that I recognized from years past. It was the father of the boy I had spoken to about being the point guard. He said, "Mr. Alloway, do you remember what you told those boys when they were in the sixth grade?" I knew what he was talking about and I told him so. He said, "They want me to let you know that they are going to the state tournament and they would like for you to be there to see them play."

I made arrangements to be there. What a tremendous accomplishment for a group of young boys. They had set a goal. Could they accomplish what they had set out to do as sixth graders?

When I arrived at the state tournament I had decided not to try to see the boys before the game. I didn't want to break their concentration. I wanted them to be fully ready to meet another good team.

After finding our seat, my son and I went to get cokes for our family. I didn't realize that we would have to walk by the dressing room in Old Gregory Gym on the campus of University of Texas. The coach was standing outside the dressing room and he saw me. "Mr. Alloway," he said, and I thought I saw a tear, " You started these boys out didn't you. Why don't you come into the dressing room and see them?"

I told him that I didn't want to break their concentration, but I said, "You are the coach, and I'll do whatever you think best." He thought it over a minute and then said, "I believe it would be a good thing for you to go in and see them."

I went into the dressing room and congratulated them for being in the state tournament. I started to leave when one of the boys spoke to me and said, "Mr. Alloway, would you say a prayer for us?" I replied, "Certainly." Then before my eyes every boy got down on their knees before God. I prayed a simple prayer and left the dressing room.

They literally demolished a very good opponent in their first game. It was only close at the beginning. Yes, they were a very good team. They played well. The team that they beat won state the next three years in a row.

Their opponent for the finals was another very good team. Coaches that we talked with told us that although Daingerfield had a very good team, they didn't think their chances were very good for beating Borger in the finals. They thought perhaps Borger was the best team in the state in all classes. Their concept seemed to be that even though Daingerfield had a very good team, they simply could not beat Borger.

We came the next day for the finals. We had taken our place in the stands when all of a sudden they announced my name over the public address system and asked me to come to the scoring table for a message. Being a minister, I imagined it was an emergency call from home regarding one of my parishioners. Before I reached the scoring table, the assistant coach met me and told me the boys wanted me to come to the dressing room.

As I walked into the dressing room, I reminded the boys of what I had told them as sixth graders, that if they stuck together, kept good attitudes, and made their grades, I didn't see any reason why they couldn't be state champions by the time they were seniors. I told them that they had done all those things and I wanted them to know that they were already champions because they had paid the price. They had done what champions have to do. I told them it didn't matter how the game turned out, they were already champions because they had developed the attitude of champions. Then I said, "One more thing, fellows. When this season started there were over 200 teams in your division that wanted to be state champions. Now only two teams have that opportunity, and you are one of them." The last thing I said was, "Fellows, I don't believe any group of boys deserve to be champions more than you do. Just go out there, relax, and do your best."

I started to leave and again one of them spoke up, "Mr. Alloway, would you pray for us?" Even though I was standing, I saw every boy get on his knees before God while I prayed.

The game was something else, one of the most exciting games you would ever hope to see - it was nip and tuck, tooth and toenail, all the way. Never more than 3 or 4 points separated the two teams, someone had to win, someone had to lose, two valiant foes giving 100% effort. What a game! When it was all over I had to go to the same dressing room to congratulate the state champions. These boys had done what critics said could not be done. They had won when expected to lose. They truly were champions.

Some members of that team were given college scholarships. Three of them eventually played professional football. They had learned what it takes to be a champion.

Another memory that sparkles for me was what happened in Daingerfield while I was there. I was the radio announcer for the football team that won the state championship. As the announcer I had the privilege to be in the dressing room right after the game to do interviews. They had just won the championship by a score of 7-6 over a team that won two successive state championships and 39 straight games without a loss.

You can imagine the joy and excitement in the dressing room. The noise was beyond description and then the coach got their attention and everything was quiet. It was just before Christmas as playoffs in Texas take several weeks. The coach said, "Boys, the good Lord has been with us for 19 weeks and He has given us the best Christmas gift that a group of boys could ever want, a state championship. Let's have a word of prayer and then greet our friends." The amen was lost in the wild shouts of joy as the prayer ended.

What do these stories have in common? Even though it was a group of people they had a common purpose, a single eye. Jesus said, "When two agree as touching anything in My Name, I will do it." Many times it is difficult for a person to develop a single eye. When that single eye is developed by a person it allows them to be very creative. When two or more people can unite in a common purpose, even greater things can be accomplished. Jesus said, " When two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am there in their midst.

God indeed has a purpose for your life. No one else can fill it for you. You can do it if you will. God is your ally to help you, if you will let Him. The real focus for our lives starts here with a commitment to do the will of God, to have no other gods before us. It is so simple that many people trip over its simplicity.

Commitment: Questions to think about.

1. What is the greatest commitment of my life?

2. Is that commitment producing all that I think it should produce for the satisfaction of my life?

3. What kind of commitment have I made with other people?

4. Am I fulfilling my part in the commitments I have made?

5. If I have made any commitments that I cannot keep or should not keep, how should I resolve them?