Commitment and the Tree Swing

“Committed”can mean…many things to many people.We tend to think immediately of a level of investment to a person, place, or thing. Ah, but that’s not the only option.In professional mental health circles…it can signify a life saving, altering, or intervening event. When I was a lowly employee of the “Middle Flint Behavioral Healthcare System” there were times I had to man the “hotline.” Of course, its name represented everything you needed to know about its purpose. When it rang it usually meant that an emergency was happening with someone somewhere in the state of Georgia. A few times it was in reference to an “EIC” – emergency involuntary commitment. If that was the case a counselor would have to make a determination about the immediate need and get the paperwork rolling for a person’s placement in a care facility. So, “commitment” wasn’t about having personal control of your level of “investment” but someone else committing YOU!


In spiritual terms...it is simply a destination, decision, or determination. “Are you committed?” is the Question we hear. It asks us to evaluate our “wholehearted loyalty” (as the dictionary describes it) to our Lord – and His Kingdom. It’s quite confrontational! It requires a thorough accounting. In other words – Do the math! Do your life actions add up to the words you say?I have a perfect illustration... that comes from a boyhood experience. It involved a rope swing, a
high platform, and possible bodily destruction. We kids had a favorite oak tree to climb which was bent
almost parallel to the ground. It branched out about four feet off the ground with one half going toward the earth and the other headed to the sky. Great Tree!! We played “tree tag” and would climb all over that natural wonder. BTW – don’t let your children play “tree tag.” File this under: stupid things boys do that cause pain, suffering, and broken limbs (no pun intended).

Anyway, nobody knew…who put a rope swing in another tree or how long it had been there. (Note to self: It’s important to check on that kind of stuff.) The rope would reach to “our” tree and we could wrap our legs around the stuffed feed sacks that formed a “seat” and push off for a grand experience. Let me say that four feet off the ground was easy. You could actually have the seat under you before you sailed off the wooden platform. However, the real test of your “manhood” was to climb to the other HIGHER platform and do the same thing. Think: low diving board vs.high dive. That’s exactly how it looked.

Oh, and there was a problem...with this area of the tree. The rope didn’t qui-i-i-ite reach. So, you
would have to grab the rope with your feet when your buddy “swung” it to you. Then, sitting on the edge of the homemade (yikes!) platform, holding onto the knot where the sacks and rope joined, you would have to
push OUT to the swing. Even now, I have sweaty palms just thinking back. Apparently, I had little parental supervision.

Commitment to Christ...can be just as scary – and just as rewarding. But…here’s the secret: there can be no reservation. Not fully committed in our tree swing meant an unfortunate lesson in how gravity works. Not being “all in” where Jesus is concerned brings about fear, doubt, passivity, and emotional chaos. You have to go for broke…which may require brokenness before the adventure begins. So, how’s that whole “commitment” thing going for you? Your job? Your marriage? Your money? Your church? Your kids?Hey, just asking.

So, what happened to our swing...you might wonder? (I know. You weren’t wondering.) Well, it wasn’t long for this world as we soon found out. My last memory of the swing was watching my friend, Steve, push off the high platform. As he leveled out the rope broke. He landed in a little red wagon and –at a high rate of speed – disappeared off an embankment and into the woods. I didn’t tell my mom.

Your overly trusting pastor, Rob