VOWS TO GOD
Why Make Them?
I had good intentions of spending time with Him first thing in the morning every morning. I did that on a fairly regular basis, but not every morning. I had good intentions of sitting down and reading my Bible during the day, but usually didn't. Quite a few things changed for the better in my life. I have been able to allow God to shine out of me, but not nearly all of the time.
I have a friend that I met on the Internet a couple of years ago. Our friendship was planned by God. She and I both have found ourselves in similar situations in our spiritual walks at the same time. We end up being able to encourage each other. We have been able to grow in the Lord together. Often we get together in our own chat room and we praise the Lord and pray together. We always come away from those sessions totally refreshed and ready to face the world. God certainly knew what He was doing when He put us together!
On February 12th we were discussing how difficult it was for us to hear God's voice sometimes. We were discussing our ups and downs in our spiritual walks. We reflected on how we often ended up going over the same ground that we had already covered. We talked about how we couldn't reach the spiritual level that we desired. The more we talked about it the more frustrating it became to see how we were having difficulty staying in the place that God wanted us. We came to a very uncomfortable conclusion. It was time to make a vow to God.
The instant we looked at the word "vow" we both could feel our stomachs churning. We began to do a dance around the word. There was something awfully scary about the thought of making a vow to God. I imagine that, if you are at the same spiritual roadblock that we found ourselves, you know exactly what I mean. Your brain is probably frantically looking for a reason NOT to make a vow.
What kind of vows to people make these days? The main one I can think of is a vow at the time of getting married. However, in today's society as couples make their vows to each other the they are probably not thinking "I promise" but more like "I promise I will try." There are other vows that people take, usually as a form of membership into an organization. However, I couldn't think of any vows that "society" considered unbreakable.
In the United States, we live in a democracy. We can have very strong opinions about things and then back them up with NOTHING. Then, the next day, we could change our minds and it would be OK. Nobody would bat an eye. We are not expected to stand firmly on any issues any more. This has become a disposable and changing society. We are not required to stand firmly in our convictions. As a result we seem to feel we can make commitments and then back out of them when they are too hard to keep.
Yet, God's Word to us is full of promises. How can we expect God to stand by His promises to us and not be willing to promise Him anything? We say, "I want all that You promise, God, but You can't depend on me for anything at all." Or, we tell Him that we will serve Him and then only do it when it is easy. It was easy to justify my actions when I slipped up and did things that I knew God wouldn't like. After all, I was trying!
As my friend and I danced around the word "vow" the words "good-time Christian" came to our minds. We often look at ourselves as someone who just wants to go on dates and have a good time but doesn't look for the long-term commitment with God. We don't want to get married. It is too hard. We are content to let God be the one to stand firmly in His commitments to us.
We both were feeling sick to our stomachs. We danced around the topic of making vows to God until there was nothing else to say. We either were or we weren't. If we were to get to the spiritual place that we wanted to be in then there was no other route. We had to make vows of commitment to God.
We examined what a vow was. A vow was a promise. To us a promise is something that we don't take lightly. If we promise something then we feel we must must must follow through with our promise no matter what. We thought about vows mentioned in the Bible. The Bible warns about breaking vows.
"If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth." Numbers 30:2
"When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee." Deuteronomy 23:21
The Nazarites made a vow to dedicate their lives to God and they SHAVED THEIR HEADS to show that they were serious. Back then, shaving your head was much more significant than it is now. So, they did something that was actually very embarrassing to them, but they did it for God to show their seriousness. They did it because a vow to God is EXTREMELY SERIOUS BUSINESS.
If we made a vow to God we would most certainly have to keep it. We would never be able to say, "You misunderstood me," to God. If you make a vow to a person then there is always a chance that you will be able to avoid fulfilling your vow. That person could move away or could forget. God won't move and God won't forget.
If we vowed a vow to God WE'D HAVE TO KEEP IT! That was the bottom line. There was no other way to look at it. There was no way to soften it or to make it easier to swallow. Once it was out there then it would be carved in stone. It would be written across the sky in letters that would never fade. It would be engraved on our foreheads.
Stomachs churning, we began to tell God how sorry we were for our lack of serious commitment. We faced the fact that, once we made vows of commitment, that we would no longer be facing our same old lives. We would no longer be able to be the same old people. We would no longer be able to use our mouths for our own selves. We would no longer have the use of our bodies and minds to serve ourselves.
I had to work my way up to it. I actually had to turn my brain off and let God fill my mouth because, in the flesh, I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. I had to choose to let God help me make the vow. It was like jumping off a cliff and having the faith that God would keep me from hitting the ground.
I am going to share my vows with you. I hesitate in actually putting them online, but, after all, they are as good as permanently etched across the sky. I made them and there is no way out of them. God expects me to fulfill them.
However, God is already blessing me for my commitment. At our new Bible study He sent me a Word and told me that He was pleased with me and with my efforts. He told me that I would be doing many things for Him. He knew that I needed encouragement. He is going to help me every step of the way because it is Him that laid the need for making vows on my heart.
A vow is the ultimate commitment to God. I encourage you to make one (or more!) If you are not able to make one at this time then place it on a back burner in your mind. If God feels you need to make one then He will bug you about it now and then. You will know because the thought will pop into your mind over and over. You will have the choice to make one or not. He won't force you to make one. However, it may be necessary if you are to be walking in His will.
Don't go away mad at me for bringing it to your attention. OK? After all, if God wants you to make one then He would have let you know somehow, with or without my help.
I'm still struggling with that vow. I'm doing better and better, though. It is my earnest desire to be able to fulfill every part of it. I need to pull it out of the pocket at the back of my Bible cover and read it every morning during my devotional time.
It is when I am interacting with my husband that I have the most trouble. Old habits die hard. When I am unhappy with him I must be careful what I say and how I say it. (Don't get me wrong... my husband and I have a good relationship. It's just, well, if you are married you know what I mean. If you aren't, when you've been married as long as we have you will understand. We just expect more from each other than from other people.)
The only thing left that I still struggle with is the "self" part. Believe it or not, fear, pride, embarrassment and lots of other things are no longer in my life.
However, I still struggle with "what about me?" When everyone else is doing whatever they please without regard to how their actions affect other people I must only focus on what God wants me to do. However, when the actions of others cause more work or heartache for me I still occasionally open my big mouth and say something without running my words past God. Other times I keep my mouth shut, but end up with my own "woe is me" pity party.
HOWEVER, those things happen less and less often. I have made very large steps toward completely fulfilling my vow. God even removed any further arguments I might have about my inability to fulfill the vow. He gave me a big lesson on being holy. So, without any excuses left I am focused on completing the journey toward releasing everything in my life to God.
For the most part, I no longer struggle with the "What about me?" issue. I don't have the urge to correct people when they are wrong, which must have used to make me feel better somehow.
I think the worst thing I struggle with might be patience, but that isn't a big problem. I am on this earth to serve God. Period.
I do need to spend more time in my Bible. Since my husband retired our morning schedule got mooshy. I don't have a particular time to get up so I have to figure out how to get up early. OK, that doesn't make sense, but it makes sense to me. I'll figure it out.
If you haven't made a vow yet please spend some time in prayer over whether or not to make one. There is one kind of vow that you may want to avoid.
When you tell God that you promise to do something in exchange for Him doing something for you that may be more than just a vow. It is more like making a bargain with Him. I'm not saying He wouldn't honor something like that. There is a possibility that He may. I don't know.
I'm thinking of Matthew 4:5-7:
Did Jesus mean He was not going to tempt God by telling God He would jump if God would send angels to catch Him? Could be. If so, that seems to mean that a vow where you "make a deal" with God is tempting God and you shouldn't do it.
Don't make a hasty vow. There are some people who just cannot keep promises. They should definitely stay away from promising anything to God.
Personally, I don't make promises where I see there is a possibility I won't be able to keep them, no matter how much I want to give a promise. You can take my promises to the bank. I might stumble a bit fulfilling it, but it will be fulfilled or I won't make it in the first place.
Be sure that you will be able to fulfill your promise to God before you make it.
On the other hand, if you made a vow and cannot keep it, that is another matter. My recommendation to you (if you are absolutely sure you cannot keep it) is to confess it to God because your vow became a lie and a lie is a sin.