When my first niece was born in the early ’80’s I held that tiny, beautiful baby and made a vow. I said, with her parents and grandparents in the room, “If your first words are ‘Aunt Connie,’ I’ll buy you a car.”
Everyone laughed, and like most babies, she said “Mommy” and “Daddy” long before she said my name. I made the same vow 18 months later when her little brother was born, and for the next ten years whenever one of my sisters had a baby I’d make the same vow. “Say ‘Aunt Connie’ first. I’ll buy you a car.”
I knew I was pretty safe, that I’d never really have to buy a car. Until my oldest niece was 15, and my sister had her fourth child. I, of course, made my silly vow, but this time in front of three teenage siblings who immediately began coaxing their baby brother to say, “Aunt Connie.” I will admit, I was a bit worried. But thankfully, “Mommy” won out.
I was off the hook. That is, until my nieces and nephews began having their own children. You’d think I’d learn. Not so much! Just last year one of my nieces had a baby boy, and Great-Aunt Connie made her silly vow. This time his teenage step-brothers began coaxing him to say my name. (I’m pretty sure I distinctly heard him say, “Dada” last time I was home.)
I share all that as I think about the Scripture I read today. It addresses the seriousness of our vows to God.
“This is what the Lord commands; When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” (30:1-2)
Now Moses goes on and gives instructions how a vow might be annulled. But those circumstances are few and far between. The seriousness of vow-making is not lost on me.
I want to be a woman of my word. That means I need to speak thoughtfully, not making rash promises. Like when I promise to pray for someone, then immediately forget that I promised to pray. Like when I promise to call a friend, and then not pick up the phone. I know these are not the same kinds of promises we read about here in Numbers. But if I represent God, and I do, I want my word to mean something for His sake.
And when I promise God to turn from a sin, to change behavior that doesn’t please Him, to obey Him with all my heart, I want Him to know I mean it. The cool thing about God is, when I do make those vows, He Himself gives me the ability to follow through. I love that about Him!
I take my relationship with God seriously. I want to please Him in all ways, including the vows I make.