Have you ever made a promise to God?
I have. Recently I came across a story that brought it back to me. Back in the days when Jeremiah was alive, Johanan and his group asked him to pray that the LORD might tell them what direction to take. Jeremiah said he’d pray. The group went further. “Whether it pleases us or not, we will obey the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 42:6, Good News Bible, emphasis mine)
I once promised God something similar.
It happened like this. Although I had believed as a child in Jesus and trusted him to save me, I had become skeptical as a young adult. Did God even exist? As months went by, I grew more and more disillusioned. Looking at the sky one morning, I said, “Is it all a hoax?” A few days later, I woke up overwhelmed with the warmth of God’s love for me (yes, me!) My doubts had vanished. Yet I still thought he might ruin my life. The Mamas and the Papas sang, “Go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do.” What if God made me go where I didn’t want to go, do what I didn’t want to do?
I took the plunge anyway. I promised to follow him, to try to obey him. What happened? I learned that people suffer whether or not they believe in God. Hard things, as well as wonderful things, have happened to me and to those I love. I’ve made bad choices and some good ones. But with God, I’ve never been alone. He’s given me inexplicable gratitude, peace, joy, and a longing to know him better. Because Jesus makes sense of life, I’ve never been without hope, and I’ve never regretted making that promise to him.
What happened to Johanan and his group? When Jeremiah told them (in Jeremiah chapter 43) that God said to stay put and not to go to Egypt, what did they do? They said to Jeremiah, “You’re lying!” And despite all the warnings of catastrophe, they went to Egypt.
Been there, done that. But God has given us recourse. “If we confess our sins, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.” (I John 1:9)
Isn’t that something?