I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:14)
Married couples often ask me to perform a “Vow Renewal” ceremony, which is a symbolic way of reaffirming the original vows (that is, the promises made before God and man) that the couple made on that glorious day when they joined together in the holy covenant of marriage. Today I’d like to encourage you with a word about renewing your vow to your Savior.
To be sure, we make 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 other vows we make to our Lord is because I know how often He tests our sincerity and commitment to keeping it.
We have promised to walk with our Lord wherever He leads, and as long as He is leading us beside green pastures and still waters we faithfully follow. But what about those times when He leads us into the 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 Jesus with a kiss?
It is far easier to make a vow than to keep a vow. So how do we keep the vows we have made to our Lord? We keep in view the vow He has made to us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). You see, our marriage vows to Jesus simply cannot end in divorce. Regardless of how often we fail to keep our vows to Him, He never fails to keep His vows to us. We remain in our marriage relationship with Jesus, not because of our faithfulness to Him, but because of His faithfulness to us, regardless of how terribly unfaithful me 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 will strengthen us in our moments of decision. It is His love for 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 in eternity past (Hebrews 13:20) is what strengthens us to live out the vow we made to Him that we will 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 thus 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 more often than not you will find the strength to fulfill your vows. And on those occasions when your strength fails, remember that you have a God who forgives you completely and loves you unconditionally.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!