The Promises We Make

Over the last nearly six weeks, one of mine and Melissa’s favorite questions has been “what’s the name of your baby?” We are fully aware of the uniqueness of the name that we chose for our daughter and we love it. I was actually surprised when one of our mid-wives told us that in all her years of delivering children, she’d only had one other little girl named Promise. ‘Really?’ I thought. ‘That’s one more than I’ve ever met.’

As people have asked not only what her name is, they most certainly follow up with asking what led us to that name. Melissa’s first reason, “We chose it as a constant proclamation of God’s promises over her life.” My first reason, ” We chose it as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises.” Both of which are absolutely true.

In the days following my daughter’s birth, I began to think about a third meaning behind Promise’s name.

I started thinking about the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Hosea, who received instruction from the Lord as to what they were to name their children. In Isaiah 7, we’re introduced to Isaiah’s son Shear-Jashub. The literal meaning of his name is meant to be a reminder, an encouragement to the Judeans as Shear-Jashub means “a remnant shall return.” This didn’t only serve to encourage Judah as Syria and Israel were approaching to make war, but even more so when the Judeans would eventually be led away into captivity. Personally I prefer his second son’s name, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, which is found in the following chapter. Not because its such a mouth full, but rather because I respect a man who names his son, “speed the spoil, hasten the booty.”

The point of the names is that they are a prophetic declaration to the culture; a culture that was under threat from outside forces, a culture that in its own right was walking away from God. As I thought on the name Promise and what that says to the society around her, I was hit with the overwhelming reality that we are a society that largely doesn’t keep their promises to one another.

“For better or worse, till death do us part.” What do these words mean to you? Do they reflect an emotion? Are they an action? A decision? Does it institute a contract? A covenant? When Melissa and I got married we decided that we would use traditional vows as opposed to writing our own. We wanted to join with the choir of voices of past husbands and wives that made the exact same marital commitment to one another and fulfilled it till death did them part. Its a beautiful covenant and the clearest picture of our relationship to Christ.

Yet, how many people that said those words, weeks, months or years down the road decide through actions, words and eventually legal papers, that they will not be keeping that ever important promise to their spouse. Its sad. I would never say this to shame someone that’s had a divorce, I realize the pain and heartache of them. But I would be remiss to not scream at the top of my blog that God has something better for us when we keep the marriage promise.

Beyond that, what about the promises that we make to our children. In my view, no matter the situation, if two people make a baby, they are responsible to fulfill the role of a father or mother to that child. And yet, so many children are abandoned by one or both parents. This hits close to home for me as so many of the kids that I’ve lived with and served at Treasures of Africa were just that, abandoned. Awadhi, for one, had a father who abandoned him. Diamond was found abandoned in a heap of garbage at two weeks old.

When we break our promises to one another, we break one another.

I dream that my daughter will be someone that keeps her promises, even the difficult ones, even the ‘for better or worse’ ones. Beyond that, I want her to be someone that inspires honesty, faithfulness and loyalty in a world that so desperately needs it. May we all be as such.

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Author: Brandon Stiver

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, living and working in Moshi, Tanzania. My wife is named Melissa and we have three children: Moses, Promise and Shepherd. We are directors over an orphan care ministry called Kingdom Families; advocating for the needs of orphans and vulnerable children and assisting families to welcome them into their homes as sons and daughters.

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