I will never be poor. I will not rest until I get even. I will always love you. These statements are often said to oneself half consciously and half subconsciously, but they have one thing in common. They are all vows and vows have power when they are more than words. Vows that come from deep within rest on deep emotion resting on an even deeper resolve.
The young boy evicted along with his mother and two siblings loaded up a few clothes, personal items, and a kitchen utensil or two in their old car. The car itself had four mismatched and nearly bald tires. A rust gap was growing just behind and on top of the dented in left wheel well. They tied a mattress on top and were off—to nowhere. Now homeless and with little food the ten year old thought to himself, “When I grow up, I will never be poor!” The boy just made his first vow.
Hard work and long hours are a common ingredient in the lives of those who escape poverty. A strong work ethic and determination are good things until they get out of balance. The boy never spent money he did not have to. He saved everything he could. He worked as many waking hours as possible. He was admired by his employer’s but had no friends and few opportunities to rest his mind or body. His young wife grew weary of a growing bank account but no life. Their children did not miss their dad much after the divorce because he was never around much anyway. Even when he was home, he rarely spent time with them. Myopic vows are not healthy.
Vows have power and need to be one part of a whole person, not their only characteristic. The will sets its objective, which determines direction in life from that moment until the goal is met at an undetermined time in the future.
Sam, Frodo’s companion in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” was told he could accompany the young hobbit no further. It was too dangerous. Sam refused to listen and waded into the river to catch the boat leaving the shore. Frodo pulled him into the boat rather than let Sam drown. Incredulously Frodo demanded to know why Sam did such a foolhardy thing. He knew he could not swim! The answer was swift and sure. “I made a promise. I made a promise. I made a promise Samwise Gamgee. Don’t you leave him”.
Vow is a noun, but also a verb telling something you will devote yourself to doing. Vows have power; power to help through hard times or power to harm. Make them wisely.
Moses mentored Joshua into a great leader. After Moses’ death Joshua stood before the Hebrew people and spoke. “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” His vow to serve Yaweh rather the false gods of power (Baal), materialism, or sexuality (Ashoreth) was the foundation upon which latter success was built.
A personal commitment or promise (to oneself) is not always enough. Without the guidance, encouragement and strength of the Holy Spirit some things are beyond the reach of even the most talented and committed. The apostle Paul recognized that when he said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.
A new year lies before us all. What one or two things will we wisely commit to or renew our commitment to? Will we be wise enough to give it our all and invite the Holy Spirit to be our companion?