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In the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye, a man devoted to tradition, finds his thinking challenged when his oldest daughter wants to marry for love, instead of having her marriage arranged by her parents. It had never occurred to him that one would marry for love, and one night he cannot help but ask his own wife the question (in song, of course!): “Do You Love Me?”
T: Golde, do you love me?
G: Do I what?
T: Do you love me?
G: You’re a fool!
T: I know! But do you love me?
G: Do I love him? For twenty five years I’ve cooked for him, cleaned for him, starved with him. Twenty five years my bed is his. If that’s not love - what is?
There are times when going through the motions just doesn’t cut it. There are even times when a commitment to “going through the motions” can cause us to miss what’s most important. For 25 years, Tevye and Golde had been going through the motions of a loving marriage, without ever thinking about whether they loved one another or not.
Tevye, the Jewish dairy farmer in the Fiddler on the Roof, lives with his wife and five daughters in czarist Russia. Change is taking place all around him and the new patterns are nowhere more obvious to Tevye than in the relationship between the sexes. First, one of his daughters announces that she and a young tailor have pledged themselves to each other, even though Tevye had already promised her to the village butcher, a widower. Initially Tevye will not hear of his daughter’’ plans, but he finally has an argument with himself and decides to give in to the young lover’s wishes. A second daughter also chooses the man she wants to marry: An idealist revolutionary. Tevye is rather fond of him, and, after another argument with himself, he again concedes to the changing times.
A while later, Tevye’s third daughter wishes to marry. She has fallen in love with a young Gentile. A no-no among faithful Jewish people. This violates Tevye’s deepest religious convictions: It is unthinkable that one of his daughters would marry outside the faith. Once again, he has an argument with himself. He knows that his daughter is deeply in love, and he does not want her to be unhappy. Still, he cannot deny his convictions. “How can I turn my back on my faith, my people?” he asks himself. “If I try and bend that far, I’ll break!” Tevye pauses and begins a response: “On the other hand…” He pauses again, and then he shouts: “No! There is no other hand!”
With his first two daughters he gave some ground, compromised his positions. However, with his last daughter, he would not because he had to remain true to the Word of God. “No other hand.”
In the film, Bridges of Madison County, Francesca Johnson, played by Meryl Streep, has a four day affair with Robert Kinkaid, a photographer played by Clint Eastwood. Her husband and children are away at the Iowa State Fair at the time, and they learn of the affair after her death when they read a three volume diary where she details the adulterous affair. There was nothing particularly wrong with her marriage and family, but she obviously considered the affair the most important event in her life. The dairy said little about her marriage or her children. It was excitement without the necessary commitment. No relationship had to be developed. She did not have to put up with his faults. Its brevity put it in the category of fantasy rather than reality, and it is always easier to live in the world of fantasy than it is to live in reality. Unfortunately, there are many people leading this kind of shallow life.
[Fiddler on the Roof]
Tevye: "Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel."
Golde: "What? He’s poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!"
Tevye: "He’s a good man, Golde. I like him. And what’s more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him. So what can we do? It’s a new world... A new world. Love. Golde..." Do you love me?
Golde: Do I what?
Tevye: Do you love me?
Golde: Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You’re upset, you’re worn out
Go inside, go lie down!
Maybe it’s indigestion
Tevye: "Golde I’m asking you a question..." Do you love me?
Golde: You’re a fool
Tevye: "I know..." But do you love me?
Golde: Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?
Tevye: Golde, The first time I met you
Was on our wedding day
I was scared
Golde: I was shy
Tevye: I was nervous
Golde: So was I
Tevye: But my father and my mother
Said we’d learn to love each other
And now I’m asking, Golde
Do you love me?
Golde: I’m your wife
Tevye: "I know..." But do you love me?
Golde: Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is?
Tevye: Then you love me?
Golde: I suppose I do
McCartney’s Video Illustration: From The movie “The Great Escape” preview of the movie. The movie is about Allied soldiers who planned and executed “The Great Escape” from a German Prisoner of War camp in WWII. The movie focuses on how determined these soldiers were to escape from their present condition of bondage. These men planned their escape carefully. They worked hard and sacrificed to execute their escape plan. This plan was designed to set over 200 prisoners of war free. The escape was successful but many of the ones who got freed were recaptured by the Germans. The good news is though there were those who made it home to their land of freedom.
Spiritual Point: These men knew the risk for breaking out of their prisoner of war camp. They knew that to execute the escape would require sacrifice and hard work. They knew that if the Germans caught them as they dug tunnels or forged documents that the result would be severe punishment. But they did it any way so that they could be free. So they planned the route to freedom and executed it with their sacrificial lives. The big day came and many were freed temporally. The officers who escaped were executed and the others returned to face severe punishment but the truth was some of them made it.
There are many who are prisoners today in the current spiritual war fro the world. The warring powers are the powers of good and evil. One power wants us to yield to our sinful evil desires and the other wants us to resist the sinful way of this corrupt world. The one who resists and takes the route to freedom will be freed for all eternity. The other one who allows themselves to stay in captivity to this world will have no life and no future.
I want you to see what I think is one of the greatest examples of what we’ve been talking about and surprisingly it’s in a Hollywood motion picture. In “The Family Man” Jack, the husband, has made a career decision without consulting Kate, his wife. Because the opportunity is so lucrative Jack is ready to root up his whole family for the “better life.” There are some tense moments between the two of them but when the dust settles Kate communicates with her husband about this very volatile situation. I want you to listen to Kate’s ultimate response to Jack’s decision. Watch her body language, her tone and listen to her words.
VIDEO CLIP - The Family Man - Chap. 14:1:35:12 - 1:36:59 - 1:47
A VOW TO CHERISH
In the movie A Vow to Cherish a husband struggles with his wife’s Alzheimer's. The most difficult thing is the fact that she doesn’t know him and he is a complete stranger to her. He kneels in front of her and pledges he will love her till the day they die. He recites the vows they had shared years earlier and the scene ends as he gently kisses her on the forehead.
It’s a beautiful picture of true love – the love God has for us and the love he wants from us. We can score 10/10 to the quiz but knowing the answers is not much good if you don’t do what it says. Only true love will motivate us to do what God wants. It’s about being in love with God, not the touchy, feely sentimental stuff we call love. No, it’s the sacrificial-willing-to-walk-with-you-through-anything type of love.
Families are wonderful. Families are challenging. I am reminded of this every time I see my favorite Cosby Show episode in which Cliff, the father played by Bill Cosby, and Theo, the son played by Malcolm Jamal-Warner, have a chat about Theo’s desire to live like a “regular” person rather than “special” person like his dad who is a doctor or his mom who is an attorney.
Cliff is concerned about Theo’s grades and his lack of motivation and progress. What does Theo want to be? He wants to be a “regular” person like a truck driver. But that’s not the issue for Cliff; it is Theo’s lack of commitment that is the problem.
So dad takes $1200 in play money, an agreed to amount for a truck driver’s monthly earnings, and begins to help Theo understand what it takes to live. First are the taxes, because as Cliff says, “the IRS comes for the regular people first.” Then the discussion begins over rent (“You’re not living here, I’ll live in New Jersey”), then transportation (“A car will cost you “X”, “I’ll drive a motorcycle,” “you’ll wear a helmet.”). Then it goes on to food, (“I’ll eat peanut butter and jelly”), and clothes (“I want...
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS: RIGHT DAY, WRONG YEAR
Once there was a covenant with Noah, with Abram, with Moses, and with David, but now there is a NEW covenant written in the blood of Jesus. That promise, that contract, never expires. It is guaranteed by God's action, not our actions. The word often translated as "steadfast love" in English translations is usually reserved to describe "covenant love" or "relational love." So, in my translation, I've taken the liberty of inserting the word "contract" (I could have used loving commitment) to describe God's steady dependable love. And, the word often translated as "forever" I've indicated as "never expiring."
We all hate it when we have coupons which expire just before we get to use them (worse when we find ourselves at the restaurant or the counter before we realize they have expired). I saw part of the old television show, Everybody Hates Chris, a couple of weeks ago. The whole plot was built around the fact that the Dad had bought great tickets for a Mets-Dodgers game at a bargain price. When they get to the game, the usher won't let them in. The dad points to the date and says that it's the right date. The usher says, "Right day, wrong year!" What a letdown!
Well, we don't have to worry about this with God's promise of eternal life. The great news is that God's most incredible deal for our salvation and eternal life never expires. So, when we thank God because He is good and remember that His contracts never expire, we have an advantage over those patriarchs with whom God made other covenants.
Video Illustration: From Chariots of Fire
Scene where Eric tells the British representatives that he will not run on Sunday because he made a commitment to the Lord. His decision to stay committed landed him in the history books and a place in Heaven for all eternity. He refused to re-write the Instruction Manuel and he chose to do it God’s way. He committed to the Lord and he would not waiver. Notice even though public opinion and the leadership of his country was against him he stayed committed to the cause of Christ.