Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ALL TALK, NO ACTION (01/10/19)
TITLE: A Broken Vow
By Linda Lawrence
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My husband, Carl, was overseas at the time, sent on a two-month fact finding assignment that would culminate in our family moving to Hong Kong.
For those two months I remained in the States with our two young children. I felt very unqualified to be a “missionary” so I took advantage of an opportunity to attend a Campus Crusade all-day seminar on evangelism. We received training in the use of a small booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws. At the end of the day a fervent call was made, enlisting an army of people willing to commit to sharing the Four Spiritual Laws with someone every day.
“Stand up! Stand up for Jesus if you will make a commitment to God’s army — to each day share the Four Spiritual Laws with at least one person.” All around me people rose to their feet, responding to the charge. I knew I could never be forward or assertive enough to do what we were being called to do. However, from where I sat it appeared everyone else in the room was standing. Too embarrassed to remain seated, I stood. I knew I should not make such a vow. Yet, I did. Embarrassment pulled this foolish young woman to her feet — and I was undone.
Suddenly I was trapped in a cycle of guilt that kept me believing I had forfeited any right to be heard by God. Embarrassment morphed into shame. Shame kept me from talking to anyone about the vow so it trapped me in bondage to a very unhealthy fear of the Lord.
The black cloud hung over me as the children and I joined Carl in Hong Kong. We had a rough beginning. Carl was so sick for our first two months that I had to carry total responsibility for his care and the children’s care, with the added weight of knowing I was undeserving of any help from God. I carried my heavy secret of being a vow breaker, alone, not wanting to burden Carl with my shame.
In hindsight, writing down stories of those difficult days of such spiritual immaturity, I can see God was beside me all the way. However, at the time I could only hope that God would have mercy on my family — that they would not have to suffer the consequences of my stupidity.
Looking back, I long to take the young, frightened me and hold her and share with her the wonder of God’s grace. But back then I had no grasp of grace — only God’s laws.
But God, in His grace, ironically, opened my eyes to a loophole, no less, in His law about the making of vows.
I started reading through the Bible again, after having put it aside because it made me so fearful. One day I stumbled into Numbers 30 where the word ‘vow’ caught my attention. Moses explains that if a woman makes a rash vow and her husband hears of it and forbids it, the vow is annulled and the Lord will forgive her.
Too ashamed to tell Carl about my rash vow (and mine was a rash vow, if ever there was one), I spoke hypothetically to him of the possibility of a wife making a foolish vow and inwardly sighed with relief when Carl said he would not have agreed to such a vow. What a childish child of God I was! But I was able to believe that my vow was now annulled and forgiven.
I was far from grasping the breadth of grace available. I would be on a runaway spiritual roller coaster for decades, caught between valleys and peaks of law and grace. However, I’ll never forget the relief of absolution, of having the weight of that broken vow lifted from me.
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