If you are a careful observer most of us make vows every day. For Christians it is “I’ll pray for you. For most everyone it is “I will do this or that; or the proverbial one, “The check is in the mail. You get the point. We make vows too easily, and we forget to fulfill them even more easily. Some vows are weightier than others. Vows made “in the presence of God and these witnesses for example; i.e.,your vow at your wedding; or a vow like Paul Anderson made in 1956 at the Melbourne Olympics in winning the Gold Medal; or the vow Louie Zamperini made while near death in a life raft in the Pacific Ocean during WWII.
Zamperini’s story is told in the recently released book, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit. Paul Anderson’s story is told in A Greater Strength, by the famous author Jerry Jenkins. Both Paul Anderson and Louie Zamperini made similar vows: that if God would help them overcome in THE crisis point of their life, they would serve him with the rest of their lives. Paul with his wife Glenda fulfilled his vow in beginning a home for troubled young men and pursuing its success with everything that was in him right up until his death in 1994. The Paul Anderson Youth Home just celebrated its 50th anniversary last Saturday, honoring Paul and Glenda for their perseverance and faithfulness! Zamperini forgot his vow for a time, until God got his attention again and reminded him. He too began a ministry to troubled youth, Victory Boys Camp in California, and is still serving the Lord in his mid-nineties.
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 50, “Fulfill your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will honor me. God is never unobservant in hearing and remembering your vow-making. In fact, we too often forget. He never does! Nevertheless, it is promised that one day we must give an account. If we were more serious, more thoughtful, more purposeful of the words that come out of our mouth we might not speak so rashly or so flippantly. And what is more, our words would not be so fleeting. This is to say that your word means something. The Psalmist is saying that God delivers His help, while we honor him in pursuing the fulfillment of our vow. This is the highest elevation there is to being an honorable person: fulfilling your vows to God. For no matter who your honorable vow is intended to serve, it is always made in the presence of God, and, therefore, is a vow to Him as well as the object of your promise and actions. This is something we must always remember if our vow-making is indeed honorable, and not a “mistake.
The other day one of our staff members at the PAYH made a vow to one of our graduates who was in a serious, life-threatening car accident, that he would pray for him. He then sent out an email to all of us that every time we see him, ask him about the young man, to remind him of his vow to pray. We are all forgetful. But there are ways to keep your memory fresh if you desire to be honorable.
Vow-making is something most of us do naturally in our social interaction with people. It is also one of the most transparent proofs of the fact that we are sinners; we do not keep our vows, our word, as much as we may think. God will honor you in this, as He did His Son, if you will honor Him in the fulfilling of your vows.
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