I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:14)
If you’re a regular reader here, you may remember that Kim and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on March 6. We renewed our vows, which is a symbolic way of reaffirming the original vows (that is, promises made before God and man) that we made on that wonderful day back in 1993. I’d like to encourage you today to renew the most important vow that you ever made.
Many of us have made many vows to our Lord, but the one that surpasses them all is the vow of life, in which we promise to surrender our lives to Him. The reason I believe this vow surpasses all others that we make to our Lord is because He tests our sincerity and commitment to keeping it so frequently. We promise to walk with our Lord wherever He leads . . . and as long as He is leading us into green pastures and beside still waters, we faithfully follow.
But what about those times when He leads us into a Garden of Gethsemane? Do we, like Peter, pull out our spiritual swords to do battle for the glory of our Lord against His enemies? Or are we more like Judas, who betrayed the Christ with a kiss and then disappeared into the night? It is far easier to make a vow than it is to keep it!
So how do we keep the vows we make to our Lord? We must keep in view the vow that He made to us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). You see, our marriage vows to Jesus can never end in divorce. No matter how often we fail to keep our vows to Him, He will never fail to keep His vow to us. We are utterly secure in our marriage relationship with Jesus—not because of our faithfulness to Him, but because of His faithfulness to us, regardless of how faithless we may be.
The key that unlocks the door to keeping our vows is the cross. Knowing how loved we are by Jesus is the driving force that strengthens us in our moments of decision. It is His love to us that helps us say “Yes!” to Him and “No!” to everything else. Being reminded of His crucified life for us—a vow He made to us in eternity past (Hebrews 13:20)—is what strengthens us to live the vow we made to Him to live the crucified life. This is how Paul could say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul lived constantly in the shadow of the cross and was strengthened to fulfill his vows to Jesus.
So, regardless of where this message finds you today, and how many unfulfilled vows litter your past, press on by renewing your vows today. Keep the cross in view, and you will find the strength to fulfill your vows more often than you fail in them. And when you do fall short, remember that you have a God who loves you and forgives you . . . no matter what!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!