My father died seven years ago. I enjoy many memories of him everyday, but some of the most precious are those from my childhood. Among them is a phrase Dad would say to me when I messed up in a game—which happened often.
“Promise me you’ll do your best.” Simple words for a simple athlete. Football wasn’t my best sport. Neither was basketball, baseball, soccer, track or much of anything else. Dad would still come to my games and cheer. I’m sure he experienced a fleeting sense of disappointment when his boy would miss a tackle, get creamed by a linebacker, or let a hot line-drive sneak between the legs. But, he didn’t scold.
“Just, promise me you’ll do your best.”
I’m sure many have heard someone say to them, “Promise me you’ll do your best.” Most would say that the phrase “do your best” is the most important part. I disagree. I think it’s the “Promise me.” This promise creates a commitment to someone else; it demands our best when we feel our worst; it implies teamwork in a world of isolation. Without the promise, we’re left alone to battle ourselves—and likely lose. My father was saying, “You’ll never be left alone to battle despair. I’ll always believe in you.” I was the one making the promise to him, but the promise was as much his as mine.
Promises are very hard to keep when we feel weak.We long to satisfy our hurt with the common things of this world:food, drink, sleep, drugs.These are the moments when the fulfillment of promise seems so distant and the probability of defeat so sure.We cry out to the Lord but hear our own voice echoing among the caverns of our heart.His Voice remains quiet.“Do you hear me, Lord?Do you know my pain?”
What shall we do amidst this thundering stillness? Stand upon the Promise. You see, God in his great foreknowledge knew that days would come when my humanity would dominate my spirit. Unlike my earthly father who said “Promise Me,” my Heavenly Father says “I Promise You.” His Promises are endless. “I Promise I’ll never leave you. I Promise I’m going to make a place for you. I Promise I’ll come back for you. I Promise I love you. I Promise, I Promise, I Promise.” When the voice of our Father remains still, his Promises bellow from the mountains. And just when we realize we can never fulfill our part of the Promise—the teamwork, the commitment, the excellence—the Lord sweeps in like a superhero and says “Don’t worry. This one’s on me.” And then he bears the burden of every sin at a place called Calvary. “Your sins are forgiven. I Promise.”
Oh that the world may know the love and passion and purpose of our ever-present Superhero! The Promise Maker; the Promise Keeper!
Psalm 119:50 says:
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
When the Lord is still, His Promise is active. When our hearts waver, His Promise is firm. When we sense the stench of death, His Promise is life.
Within your suffering lies a seemingly innocuous Promise that will shatter all silence upon detonation. Our lives preserved, extended, sustained and secured by His Promise.
During moment’s of worship, may God’s Promises return to you like a flooding river. May a world longing for truth catch a glimpse of the Promise within you. May you dance within your sorrow. May you shout above your pain. May your worship be infectious, and bring grandeur to His Name.
My Dad’s words still ring in my ears, “Promise me you’ll do your best.” Yes, Dad. I Promise.
And when I cry out: “Do you hear me, Lord?Do you know my pain?”
My Heavenly Dad’s words still comfort my heart, “Yes, Robb. I Promise.”