A few weeks ago, Stephen Burks, a good friend and colleague of mine told me about a gift that he gave his wife. In my opinion… it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever!
Here’s a little of his story from his own words.
“I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” – Psalm 119
I remember so vividly the moment I gave up. My father lay dying down the hall and my family had gathered for a week of goodbyes and great Southern cooking. I was standing in the kitchen when somebody said, “it’s hard to grieve and worry about eating healthy too.” That was October 23, 2007.
From that moment on my health declined and my weight increased as my life grew very, very complicated. I conveniently used my trials as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Extra responsibilities at church . . . “I’ll take a cheese burger.”
Wayward teenager at home . . . “I’ll have that with fries.”
Child with special needs . . . “I’ll have the vanilla malted.”
Seven years, a number of trials and one hundred-plus pounds after that fateful day I experienced another “moment” – a divine lightening bolt really. In an instant I was made painfully aware of my own pathetic excuses and I was finally sick and tired of hearing myself make them. Let me describe the scene:
Dining room table celebration of my 26th wedding anniversary.
Two out of my three kids were there along with my wife.
Nineteen year-old son was sitting taking care of a few last minute details before flying out to start an eight-week summer missions project in Taiwan having just finished a two-year stint in Americorps in the inner-city of Cleveland, Ohio where daily he faced gangs, angry-at-the-world students, uncaring teachers, absentee parents, drugs and violence. Somehow he managed to find it within himself to stay in awesome physical and emotional condition.
My twelve year-old daughter with special needs was there at the table, feeling particularly pleased with herself after losing twenty pounds, all on her own.
My ravishing bride was there having dropped nearly 30 pounds over the past six months.
My seventeen year-old son wasn’t there because he was in ARMY BASIC TRAINING at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He’s seventeen. Barely.
I was there with all of my lame excuses.
It happened so fast and the lightening bolt of self-awareness went through my head:
Suddenly I blurted out, “I’m giving you this for our anniversary – I vow to get healthy and lose weight.”
That’s all I said. It was sealed. My wife’s eyes lit up. My son smiled and my journey to live out my vow to my beautiful bride began.
And I never break a vow.
Keeping my wedding vows and my vow to follow God’s call on my heart and life have been the only things I’ve done consistently for the past twenty six years.
So I make this vow . . . the presence of all His people.
And I never break a vow.
I’m hoping you’ll join me in my journey.
You can join Stephen on this journey at (VOWTOGETHER)