by Rev. Doug Douma
SOLA Appalachian Christian Retreat, Unionville, NY
the Missions Banner, October 2023: Print Edition
We had a hiker stay with us at Sola who, honoring a vow he made, hadn’t cut his hair since 1993. I know that 1993 seems like yesterday to older folks (like myself now at age 41), but that was a full 30 years ago! So “Chipmunk” had hair down to his knees. Any longer and it might interfere with his ability to hike!
As I just preached on 1 Samuel 1 (where Hannah vows for Samuel that no razor shall touch his head), Chipmunk’s hair instantly reminded me of the Nazirite vow. This is the vow—first in Numbers chapter 6—to abstain from wine and all other grape products, to not touch a corpse, and to refrain from cutting your hair. And it was for the purpose of consecrating or separating a person for service to God.
While our hiker guest’s vow wasn’t that of a Nazirite, his follow-through of so many years is impressive.
Vows often help us to focus on accomplishing that which is our goal. Many hikers wouldn’t be apt to finish the whole 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail except that they swore to their friends back home that they were not returning until they finished the hike. And so on they hike!
While the Nazirite vow was usually temporary, the New Testament tells us as Christians to permanently separate ourselves from the world and from sin and to consecrate ourselves to God. These Scriptures (Rom. 12:1, 1 Cor. 3:17, 2 Tim. 1:9, 1 Pet. 1:16) help us to focus on reaching the end, on running the race, on fighting the good fight.
We need not make a drastic vow visibly with a sign like the length of our hair, but the outward evidence of our vow to Christ should be clearly visible in our actions. The Christian is a changed person, internally for his own knowledge and externally for all to see. The fruit of the Spirit inevitably follows from the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. As a balding (not bald!) man, I might hope for long hair, but I’ll be far happier to have those signs of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Above all else, let these be our signs.