Lent is the time, that I make promises to God. I promise to give up meat on Fridays. I promise not to eat candy until the Easter Bunny brings me an Easter basket full. I promise to do good. And most years, all of my good intentions on Ash Wednesday fall apart long before Good Friday rolls around.
Today, I opened up the Bible as I waited in the drive thru line at Chik-fil-A. (Thankfully it is not Friday, so I wasn’t breaching a Lenten promise.) Here is where I landed in the Bible:
Moses said to the heads of the Israelite tribes, “This is what the LORD has commanded: When a man makes a vow to the LORD or binds himself under oath to a pledge, he shall not violate his word, but must fulfill exactly the promise he has uttered.”
What struck me today, was not incredible guilt for all the times I have not kept my promises to God, but rather the joy of knowing all of the times He has kept his promises to me, to us. And I was struck by the thought, who am I to make promises to God? Promises that I often do not have the ability to keep. Promises that are often made in the form of a bribe: God if you will just do this, I will never do that again.
Promises are often meaningless (as any politician knows). It is almost as though our normal words are so void of truth, that we have to say we promise to give any effect to our words. (Even more effective is to lock pinkies or cross our heart when we make these valuable promises.) Our society seems to “thrive” on promises and the breaking of those promises. How many times do you click on internet boxes promising that you have read the terms and conditions of whatever new app, device, or website you are wanting to use. We all know you haven’t actually opened and read the lengthy terms and conditions (that would take several minutes just to scroll though, let alone read).
So why do we promise? I would love to promise not to make any more promises — but that would be just as meaningless.
Thank you for being so faithful and true to us. Thank you for keeping your promises. I know you don’t need or want verbal “promises.” Grant me a clean heart and steadfast spirit, that I may speak through my actions and true heart rather than settling for words or empty promises.