Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

Promises

   Have you ever made a promise to God that you didn’t keep? Maybe the more appropriate question is, “How many promises have you made to God that you   didn’t keep?”

   With bitter sorrow and regret, I remember promises I made to the Lord. “If You’ll just get me through this, Lord, I promise I’ll never…” Or “I’m sorry I did that, Lord. If You’ll forgive me one more time, I promise I’ll never do that again.” Oh, I meant what I said at the time I said it. But I underestimated the grip my sins and weaknesses had on me. And I overestimated my commitment to my Lord. As I think about those repeated instances in my life, I am even more grateful for our Father’s wisdom in including Peter’s story in the Bible. Peter knew what it was to boldly promise loyalty to Jesus only to find himself a few hours later earnestly denying, with curses, that he was even acquainted with Jesus. In my own pathetic, weak-willed way, I understand how Peter felt when, having been transfixed by the Lord’s gaze, he went out and wept bitterly.

   One of the possible sad results of making promises to God that we fail to keep is that we may over-react. (I am so given to extremes.) Eventually, I stopped making promises to Him. In the name of not lying to Him, I stopped making promises.

   Husbands and wives promise to keep themselves to one another as long as they live. If one or the other of them sins tragically in that area, and if forgiveness is sought, offered and accepted, are they to forget about their promise because they messed up? No! They are to begin again to live by it. If it is in their heart to honor their vow, that is a good thing…a thing to be desired…a thing to be followed. Yes, things change when such betrayals occur. Dreams are shattered. Hearts are devastated. And, whatever else may happen, you can never, ever, go back and undo the terrible wrong. But, by God’s grace and each partner’s willingness, you can start over…you can make new and, perhaps, even stronger promises because of your difficult experience.

   I’m saying I should not have stopped making promises to God. Is it really possible for lovers not to promise things to each other? I don’t think so. Wonderful, heartfelt promises are a blessing to relationships. Even when unforeseen circumstances intervene and prevent the fulfillment of my promise at a given time, it was still good that it was in my heart to do it? Isn’t that so? I think I might have been wiser in my promises to my Father God. I shouldn’t have spoken rashly. But I should have spoken with good intentions out of a heart for Him. Don’t you think so? I should have told Him that whenever I messed up, I wouldn’t give up. I should have told Him that I didn’t understand the strength of sin, but that I wanted to love Him more than my sin. I should have told Him that by His grace, by Jesus’ Cross, I would never quit on Him. I should have told Him that in my better moments, I wanted to be like Him…to be used of Him…to glorify Him…to be ever near Him. And yes, I would say it better than my weaknesses would allow me to live it, but…but…by my growth (even if it were so small) in the direction of holiness, I would be promising Him, in the best of ways possible for me…that I was His, come what may, in good times or bad, until death unites us forever.

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9 thoughts on “Promises

  1. Sis Gail on said:

    I know how I am as a person (weak, feeble and forgetful sometimes) so I really do mean to do what I promise or say I will do. But I know I don’t always get it right. God knows that better than I do. But I will keep trying to do it better while I am here. I like the song “Living by Faith In Jesus Above”.

    I don’t know what I would do if God was like that because, you see, I believe in his Promises So much. Especially the one that says “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU”. I need to know he was there in the beginning and in between and at the end of my journey and that He is with the people I have Loved and Love taking care of them. If you live long enough you will experience people you come to know and love who just don’t stay in your life. Sometimes when you need people along the way they are not there. And it’s not always on purpose. It’s just because it is a busy life and people do have to be about their own business and things. But sometimes things come between us and people we were once close are not there for us anymore.

    So that is why I love Our God because he promised he would be there for us no matter what. I trust in that and BELIEVE that with my whole heart.

    God said Heaven will be so much better and I trust that. And I believe that earth is not really our Home. I do have to say it is hard to get a handle on that because we are used to life here. But I know he said he went to prepare a place for us and, since Jesus is behind it, I know it will be a “WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS PLACE FOR HIS BELOVED”. It will be a MANSION JUST OVER THE HILLTOP. I have never lived in a Mansion here but this will be a different kind of mansion compared to what we think about here. I rely on God’s promises so much. So I have got a Mansion just over the hilltop – I like that song also. I like the promise he made when he put the Rainbow in the sky – such a beautiful touch from our God. I love the song “somewhere over the rainbow” especially the newer version of it. It makes me shed a tear every time I listen to it but I love the song.
    It makes me think of God and Heaven and the people that have gone on before me.
    Sis Gail

    • oakesclan on said:

      I’m glad that God knows what’s in our hearts…at least in my better moments I’m glad about that. I’m sad that there’s so much bad stuff in my heart that He also sees and knows about…BUT…God is on record that the good things we have in our heart…the good motives…the good plans…the willingness to be better and do better…that all of this counts with Him…He sees it and takes account of it. This is real encouragement for me because “there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.” So when I make a lover’s promise to God, complete with good intentions to follow through…it’s good in God’s eyes. If and when I fail to come through, He takes into account that sometimes when the spirit is willing, the weak flesh wins. And His ability and willingness to view me this way should not move me in the direction of being “matter of fact” about my failures. NO! It should move me in the direction of loving Him better and wanting to please Him more.
      Thanks for your comments, sister of mine.

  2. Email Girl on said:

    Doug, since you posted this one I have come here several times and read it over again. The last paragraph brings me to tears each time I read it. I think there is something there that is similar in my own heart and it just gets to me. Makes me see how I have treated God. Makes me aware of just how much I’ve promised and not trusted Him to still love me when my promises fail.

    • oakesclan on said:

      Dear Email Girl,
      It is always good to hear from your heart. You remain in my prayers. I hope your journey is leading you closer and closer to Him, for that will make both Him and you very glad. The fact that considering things about your relationship to Father
      God gets to your heart and leads you to see problems is a good step. I pray you’ll be able to make Him a new promise…to be His…come Hell or high water…come failure or victory…come good times or tough…with many encouragers or few…give your heart…your mind…your soul…your strength…your life to the Only One Who will never fail you. God bless you.

  3. Doug,
    Thank you for your insight and the vivid illustration- especially the comparison to our spouses. How appropriate since we are indeed the bride of Christ! I never realized (never thought of the subject at all, really) that my stance on the issue was to entirely stop making promises to God. I struggle with unfulfilled promises and unrealistic ones as well. While God’s Word is full of promises He has made to His children- promises that we KNOW will be fulfilled- my promises are often bigger than myself, my abilities, my determination to press on toward completion. At some point my mind has equated broken promises and broken covenants with God as the same thing- what do you think? Broken convenants were punished by God. Perhaps I’ve just assumed the same for this subject. Would love to hear from you. I miss our discussions and the way I grow in knowledge and in faith as a result. Thank you for the mental challenges- always good to keep thinking!!!

    • oakesclan on said:

      Dear Erica,
      I’m very grateful that you commented here. I am sorry for the delay in my response. You may know about my mom and some of what has been going on in our family. I have missed our discussions also. You have a tender heart for God that is so encouraging to others who are also pursuing the Christ.
      As I reflect on the promises I made to Vicki on our wedding day…and as I take stock of how I have “delivered” on those promises, I am embarrassed and ashamed of my many failures. But lovers have a way of speaking to one another which, if pressed to literal extremes, would reveal quite a few flaws. When we tell each other we can’t live without each other…what are we saying? Are we meaning that we literally wouldn’t be able to draw in a breath or that our hearts would literally stop beating within us, if our beloved left us? No…we are using the language of love because our hearts are so full we must say something to our beloved…and normal speech just won’t do…not when we are so full. When our little child gets caught in a lie, and she tearfully tells her mother “I’ll never lie again.” And that’s how she feels at the time…it’s what she truly means. And her mother’s heart is deeply touched. But…time goes by, mistakes return. She may lie again. Does her mother write her off? Love doesn’t…can’t do that! Love doesn’t allow the failures to define the heart of the beloved. Somewhere down in their hearts…maybe even deep down, at times, the beloved means well…wants to do only good…wants to come through. Again, love takes all that into account. But if the heart changes within the beloved…if the intentions take a turn for the worse (and the words and actions will follow this digression)…then trust is compromised and any promises are seen for what they truly are…shallow, useless and, actually, insulting. Well…I am going to be interested in your response to this…does it make sense? Give it some thought and provide some balance as needed.
      God bless you, Erica. My love to you and Brian. I do miss seeing you all regularly.

      • Erica on said:

        This absolutely makes sense to me. Really, I guess it boils down to, like so many things with faith, God knowing the hearts of his children- and their intentions also. He knows truly what our motives are. When we fail, he knows the depth of our sorrow…

  4. I failed to keep so many promises to God…eventually I just quit trying. I gave up. I walked away. Thankfully, God was patient and gracious and allowed me time to come to my senses and turn back to Him. I know that will fail Him, I’m weak. But I know that He will still love me even when I fail. When I can’t forget the failures of my past, He still loves me. When I don’t believe that I can be good enough EVER, He walks with me. He shows me ways that He is working thru me. He calls me precious and wonderful.

    Like Peter, I say things I should have thought thru better. I act in ways that are not always wise. I see what I should have done for Jesus and weep bitterly. Peter learned how to keep going. And I am learning…step by step.

    • oakesclan on said:

      Dear Sherry,
      Maybe, in some ways, it’s a good thing that we are harder on ourselves than God is. It does help to keep us from getting cocky about our sins and taking them for granted. That course would neither honor God nor help us. But we must let Him help us get our eyes off ourselves and onto Him. You are right…He still loves us when our sins come back to haunt us…when our plans to do better fall through…when we don’t show up for time with Him…when our mouths write checks that our lives can’t cash. But I think…I hope and pray…that we are like Peter in this way also…when Jesus filled their boat with fish, Peter came to Him and threw himself down on the beach and with his mouth said, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man…” but all the while his heart was crying out, “Please don’t leave me, Lord!”
      Thanks for your good thoughts, Sherry. God bless you.

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