Thursday, October 1, 2009

So Help Me God

Today I was "sworn in" for the first time in my life. "Do you testify that this document contains the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" "Yes." And that was it. I am on the record. The documents were warrants for the arrests of our burglars.

This struck me on two different levels. The situation aside, it was quite a meaningful thing to give my word in such an official way. Those documents are official based on my word. It reminds me of one of Jesus' teachings: "And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no,' 'no.' Anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matt. 5:36-37) Our word and our character go hand in hand. Too often, I am guilty of telling someone I will do something only to shirk off the responsibility later. Yet how good it is to tell someone "yes" and follow through! It is better to say "no" up front if we already know it is not likely that we will carry it out.

The other thing is that, at the end, the clerk said, " help you God". Now, I realize that God permeates, to the chagrin of some, the legal language of our nation, but the wording still gave me pause. The Old Testament is full of people who, when giving their word, would say, "May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I [fail to do what I have promised you]." These people were willing stake personal chastisement from the Lord on the keeping of their word. This is something like our "so help you God," I think.

The point is, as good as it feels to give my word in such an "official" way, my word should always be official. Here is where I need work, so help me God. Help me to let my "yes" be "yes" and my "no" be "no." Anything more (or less) is of the evil one.


  1. I know where you are coming from. I have a HUGE problem with this. I often neglect even the "little" things. It is something I really need to work on as well. My word should be official. When I say I am going to do something, I need to do it...

    I think for me part of it stems from laziness, but the majority of it just comes from being too self-absorbed.. I don't know.

    Anyway, it does seem like it would be pretty cool to be "officially" sworn in.

  2. i have come to realize that in life your word not only reflects your character but, depending upon whether you live up to it or not, impacts your reputation and your credibility...both on the job, in your private life, and in your personal witness for Christ.

    i, too, am often guilty of agreeing to do something when careful thought would indicate i don't have the time to honor that commitment well. i'm working on that.

    the other thing God has been showing me lately is that i can't have it both ways....that is, i can't profess certain beliefs as a follower of Christ -- loving others, forgiveness, for example --- and then fail to do those very things for those in my own life.

    what is so crazy is that this very thing - professing yourself a Christian and then judging, condemning and shunning others for their sins and faults--- is something i claim to detest. i feel it is what pushes people from the church...from God....even those who most need love, support, forgiveness, uderstanding and, many times, keeps them from coming back.

    the other evening i had a conversation with a student who told me about a very bad experience she had in a church she grew up in and previously attended. (unfortunately these aren't rare). she was very active and grew up in the youth group. as she got a little older, she attended less (another story) and eventually moved in with her boyfriend and ended up getting pregnant. for a long time she was not attending church and never heard from any of the people there. after she was about 7-8 months along and clearly very pregnant, she received a call from her pastor. he wanted to see her. when she met with him there was no...'we've missed you', 'how are you doing', 'how have you been'...the pastor and a church deacon only wanted to talk about how bad it 'looked' for the church that she was pregnant. (she married the father by the way). they wanted her to stand before the congregation and admit and apologize for her sin. she told me that what most bothered her was that the pastor did not even inquire as to her spiritual life...i.e., had she prayed about this...etc. it was all about how it looked to and for the church...she told me "i'm not catholic. i don't need him to talk to God. God had already dealt with me about it, and i had already been in prayer about it. the pastor assumed i was this big 'ol sinner that needed to still confess." Long story short ...she refuses to have anything to do with that church--and i'm not sure she has a relationship with any group of people who follow Jesus.

    This upset me. this young girl should have been greeted with love and understanding and acceptance. That's what God calls us to do...and then let God, through His Holy Spirit, deal with her about her own mistakes and shortcomings. That pastor didn't volunteer to get behind the pulpit and confess all of his sins...nor would any of us want to do so.

    As i thought about this story while driving home the other night, God showed me, in the same way, there are things i do... that i say... ways that i treat others, that are not in line with being the person He has called me to be. in particular, there are some in my life that have wronged me and hurt me, as well as those i love, very deeply. yet, i can't seem to find my way to let go of forgive. and so, to those people, i am not showing them the love of christ...not extending to them the grace that God has extended to me for my own sin.

    a prolific songwriter once wrote "...if i only love those who may deserve...what is that, to you? [to God]." after all, it is easy to love those who love us and treat us well. it is the others that truly test our faith.

    end of this long ramble...God is still workin' on me about this. i strive to make my yes..'yes' and my no...'no'...and to live that which i profess to believe. but, easy it is not.
    (sorry for the ramble)