“I forgot,” may be an honest reason for a broken promise. Ed, my old neighbour from Saskatchewan, promised Ruby that he would go with her to Regina last Friday. They were to leave at ten in the morning. Ten came and went, and Ed wasn’t home from having coffee downtown. When Ed rolled in half an hour late Ruby was not impressed with his, “I forgot.”
Broken promises come in all shapes and sizes. Jonathan Swift said, “Promises and pie crusts are made to be broken.” A promise is true to us when we make it; but after we break the promise, our sorry is meaningless. An English proverb states, “When a man repeats a promise again and again, he means to fail you. A Danish proverb offers, “Eggs and oaths are easily broken. Do some people get pleasure out of breaking their promises? Is the price of a promise made too high to pay sometimes?
In life, there seems to be those you can trust to keep their word and those that leave a shadow of doubt about their promises. It has been said that it is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he is afraid, drunk, or running for office. When addicts vow to stop drinking or using drugs, they know it must be for only one day at a time.
In the Bible, Peter comes to mind for breaking his promise. On the night of Jesus’ betrayal, Peter told Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered Peter saying, “I tell you, Peter before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
While Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, Judas Iscariot led a crowd of chief priests, officers of the temple guard and elders to Jesus so that they could arrest him. They seized Jesus and led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. When Jesus was arrested the disciples fled except for Peter. Peter followed those that arrested Jesus from a distance to the courtyard of the high priest.
A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard, and the people gathered around it, and Peter sat down at the fire with them. A servant girl saw him seated in the firelight. She looked closely at Peter and said, “This man was with him.” But Peter denied knowing Jesus.
A little later someone else saw Peter and said to Peter, “You also are one of them.” Peter replied, “Man, I am not!” About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as Peter was speaking, the rooster crowed.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Peter went outside the courtyard and wept bitterly. The words of R. P. Evans would seem to describe Peter’s weeping bitterly, “Broken vows are like broken mirrors.” Our broken vows shatter the image of ourselves and leave us bleeding in our souls.