Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Broken Commitments

Commitments March 11

These days people break promises. I’m from a generation of people who will commit to doing something, but then, when the time comes, if we don’t feel like it, we look for a way out. A perfectly good excuse is all you need to get out of doing something. No longer is this a time of “a man’s word is his honor”, but instead, may the best excuse win. We are a people who are pleasure and leisure seekers and if we feel like we don’t want to do it, we don’t do it.

I don’t like committing to things I have changed hair dressers, dentists, and doctors because the ones I usually went to expected me to have an appointment weeks in advance. I just can’t commit to that. I need to take things day by day, or maybe week by week. If I want my hair cut, I want my hair cut now, not in three weeks.

It’s no wonder that we feel the need to really make others commit to something, to really be assured that they mean what they say. Even as children we want more than just an affirmative reply from someone. As children we start to say “Do you pinky promise?” or “cross your heart, hope to die?” or even “Do you swear?” because we learn from a very young age that people will not follow through with what they say. We know how changeable we can be. We get used to being let down.

Even now, I’ve noticed among my students that they have trouble keeping to their commitments. This year I’ve overseen the Jr. Highers for Spelling Bee and Speech Meet and have had multiple students drop out or try to drop out at last minute. I’ve done everything between guilt trips and coercion to keep to their commitment to the event. When the going gets hard, the not so tough drop out.

I just think that this changeability will lead to irresponsible and unfaithful adults. Your job is hard? Find an easier and maybe unethical way to do it. Marriage is hard? Well, get out of it. Raising kids is too stressful? Let the TV, school, and church do your job for you.

There are people that don’t have a hint of changeability in their bodies. I know people who, if they said they will be there, they WILL be there, rain or shine. You need help moving? They will be there with a truck in the middle of a rain or snow storm. You need prayer? This person prays for you until your problem is resolved, and then they keep praying for you. You are sick or injured, perhaps you have a broken leg? These people will help you with anything from opening doors for you to bringing you meals. We all feel the blessing of people like this in our lives. We know the handful of people that we can depend on, and are glad for them. Do we ever ask ourselves, “Am I that person?” “Can others depend on me?”

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he says,
33"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

When it comes to our word to God and to those who depend on us, do we let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no”? When we say we will show up, are we there? When we tell someone we’ll be praying for them, do we forget about it the moment we walk away? Do we keep our promises to our children, our students, and teach them by example that they need to do the same?

If we can’t be accountable to one another, how much more are we messing up in the eyes of our Lord? How many things have we agreed to do, or not do, in his name? We don’t like seeing the disappointed look in another person’s face when we let them down, which is why most of us prefer to do our letting down via phone, or e-mail, or by just not showing up. We don’t want to look into the eyes of the person we’ve disappointed. I actually think it is easier to disappoint God. He seems so big that sometimes we think he won’t notice the little things we do way down here on earth. We think, “Surely he is looking in another direction right at that moment, so he won’t really see this little thing I’m doing to let him down. It’s such a small, one time thing.”

In Deuteronomy Moses reminds Joshua of the Lord’s promise,
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
We are again reminded of this promise in Hebrews chapter 13 when the people are being reminded of God’s faithfulness which will be doled out as a result of faithfulness shown to Him and to one another.
5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."[a] 6So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"[b]

We have expectations for God. We wouldn’t want him to forget or forsake us. While we believe in our hearts that his promises are true, some of us remember in our minds what it feels like to depend on a promise and have it broken. We might sometimes doubt that promises come true because of our experiences with other flawed beings here on earth. I know people who have a hard time thinking of God as a “Heavenly Father” because their earthly fathers let them down so many times, that they don’t like to compare the two. On the surface we think, “Yay! What wonderful promises!” But deep down some people may be thinking in a tiny little voice, “When has anyone ever kept a promise to me?” While we DO believe, there is a little piece of us that is braced for disappointment.

To begin changing this perception within ourselves and others we need to do two things:

1. Remember that while we are created in God’s image, we fall miles short of living up to that image. No matter how many times we have been let down by people, God will NOT let us down. He is the exception to the rule.

2. We need to do our earthly best to teach others what “I will not forsake you” means. We need to do our best to demonstrate God’s faithfulness to people through our actions here on earth. We need to let our “yes” be “yes”. People are so used to being let down, that it would be nice if they could see that there is another way.

Let us continue on, trying to show the love of the Father to those around us here on earth, so that more can join us in his glorious promises.

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