Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong. Matthew 5:37
When I was a teenager, one of my mom’s best go-to answers for many of my adolescent requests was “well maybe, I guess.” It was standard issue, when I asked her permission to do something or go somewhere that she was skeptical about. It drove me crazy because I didn’t consider it a “real” answer. Actually, it was the perfect non-answer. It gave me hope while giving her an out at the same time. It was a way to deflect, to not commit, because it wasn’t exactly yes or no. Over time, I came to realize that what she really meant was “no” and for whatever reason, she just didn’t want to say it outright.
Sometimes, as believers, I think we’re a lot like my mom was with me back then. We can be dubious about what we think the outcome should or could be, so we say “well maybe, I guess,” too. It’s a way to keep our options open, a way to have things on our terms, especially when we don’t agree with what God has in mind, with His timing, with the people He brings into our lives and the things He uses to to accomplish His purposes. We get too caught up in trivial things, or better, yet, we get too full of ourselves to remember who is He is and what He can do…”He leads forth the starry host by number; He calls each one by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:26). We doubt His intentions. We doubt His faithfulness.
One thing I’ve come to have no doubt about is this: God is true and faithful to His word. He says what He means, and He does what He says. He tells us exactly how it is – do this and that happens, do that and this happens – straight up, no sugar coating. We are the ones who play games with words, who “tweak” their meanings to fit our idea of what is good and true. We even try to use His words against Him, twisting them to suit what we want, saying things like, “you say ‘ask and it will be given to you,’ but you still haven’t given me what I’ve asked for,” never realizing that what we’re really asking is for Him to bow down before us, to acquiesce to our will.
Now that mom is in full-blown dementia, she uses her old stand-by a lot. She says “I guess” because she can’t remember, and is therefore unsure, and sometimes that doubt is expressed in emotional outbursts. As I watch her slip further and further into the abyss, I have a new appreciation for the breadth of God’s love for us. It brings to mind 2 Peter 3:9 which says, “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” We can be so defiant and “stiff-necked,” and no matter how many times we deny we know him, He’s still there, standing beside us, patiently forgiving our doubts, helping us when we cry out to Him. He’s willing to wait, to take the insults, the accusations, the disbelief. He’s willing to die for us – that’s how much He loves us – even when we tell Him, “well maybe, I guess! “