Cross My Heart

Ed Miskovic, Volunteer Writer, Huntley | May 9, 2024

If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.
Deuteronomy 23:21-23

When I was a child, we would clasp each other’s pinky fingers together and then yank them away to guarantee we would do what we had said. Sometimes, we would affirm our promise to a parent, grandparent or other significant adult while gesturing over our heart, “Cross my heart.” It was our way of holding one another accountable and affirming our promise.

As an adult, I’m often admonished by the Holy Spirit to “Remember your words.” Getting my devotional done by the due date is tough for me, especially when I’d rather watch birds eating sunflower seed hearts or snap the broom against the deck to scatter squirrels away from the bird feeders. During such times, I commit myself to staying at my keyboard, and if I have any spiritual grit, I rely on God to keep me typing. 

Today’s verse is about vows, which are a lot like formal promises. Vows signal a high form of accountability. There are marital vows and vows of secrecy, and some Christian churches have public religious vows such as chastity, poverty and obedience. When a vow is made publicly, you are accountable to the community, who will support you as you seek to fulfill it. We rarely take vows to God without a lot of prayerful consideration. 

The passage from Deuteronomy says, “Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do.” At child dedications, we, as a congregation, promise to support the parents as they raise their children. Once, at a wedding I attended, the pastor asked family and friends of the bride and bridegroom to be there for the couple in the future as they faced life’s difficulties and joys. I silently agreed as they made their vows to each other and I have tried to live up to my promise.

The point is that our promises matter. When we make a vow—a promise—we are committing to something significant. In a sense, we give our hearts to God. 

Next Steps

Promises are important in church community life. Consider making one of your promises known in your small group and invite them to go with you hand in hand on your journey to keeping your word.