I grew up singing a hymn with the words, “O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end.” However, one of my favorite authors wrote, “Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand.” That is very discouraging when we come to this time of year and think about how much better we want to do next year.
Does the importance of the promise make a difference? We think a promise to lose weight is important until we smell and see that wonderful piece of pumpkin pie smothered in freshly whipped cream. Then the rationalization begins with “Just this once.” A bit later that evening it is easier to say, “Well, after the pie is finished I will start anew.” However, if it is a promise never to steal, then we stand much more resolute. I hope so. But would I steal food for someone I love? Yes, I would! Sorry if that disappoints you. But it is the truth.
So let’s go back to the “promises and resolutions like ropes of sand.” Why bother? I propose that making those sandy promises can do one of two things. It can make us just give up when we fail. Or making those promises reinforces the foundations of our character and gives us the courage and strength to try again. There is real value in the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed. Try. Try again.”
I am scheduled to preach this weekend. I was going to tell people not to bother with sandy promises. But I have changed my mind. I am headed for the pile of sand in my backyard. I have been there before.
Written by Roger Bothwell on December 30, 2015
Spring of Life, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574