Clarity: When Covenant Takes Courage
There were many covenants in the bible, but for our purposes today, we will focus on the new covenant – the one that we entered into through Jesus. Jeremiah prophesies about this new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
This new covenant is written on our hearts. Therefore, if I can sit in this space even in my suffering or trial long enough, I can reengage with the truth of this covenant. My heart adjusts to the truth. I find myself responding with a sigh of relief, a collapse of the carried weight and tears of acknowledgement that He has not forgotten me and He still loves me.
God says He will never ever leave or forsake me. Never. That is the ultimate expression of this new covenant in Jesus. My job is to adjust the eyes of my heart to focus on that truth rather than my circumstances.
There are so many examples of this process happening in my life to protect my soul during trials, but the one that stands out the most involved my marriage. About 10 years into our marriage, I was tired. Tired of the same problems. Tired of being misunderstood. Tired of trying to make things better. I was just plain tired.
Tom must have been tired, too, because somehow, we wound up in a class taught by Pastor Mike Garrett called “A Biblical Portrait of Marriage.” I sat in the class pretty much unengaged. I wanted to try, but the reality was, what hadn’t I tried? I felt trapped in a never-ending cycle of disappointment and misunderstandings. Then I learned about covenant. And my never-ending pity cycle transformed into a never ever commitment plan. When I said my marriage vows on December 28th, 1985 at 20 years of age, they meant something to me – as much as they could mean to a 20 year old. But it wasn’t until those vows were tested that I realized what I had gotten myself into – real mess, or so it seemed. Then God opened up a window of escape from my exhausting plight through understanding covenant. He helped me to see that never ever would He leave or forsake me. That no matter how many times I failed, I was secured in my covenant relationship through Jesus. When I married Tom, I brought that covenant relationship to our marriage, but didn’t fully understand what that meant at the time. Right there in Mike Garrett’s class, I made a commitment that never ever would I leave Tom, no matter how many times he failed me. Or dare I say, no matter how many times I failed him! Jesus did no less for me. And because I knew Jesus, I would do no less for my husband. In our humanness, it doesn’t take much to move out of the never ever box.
By the time Tom and I plunked our bottoms down in Mike Garrett’s class, I was pretty far down the road away from the never ever box. I had moved from never ever will I leave my husband, down past I hope I never ever moving, then even further through, maybe I never ever to, well, I may have to leave. But because of my new understanding of covenant, God showed me a more excellent way to think and to live. With one stroke of the pen, signing that little contract in the workbook and sincere conviction of the heart, I moved back into that never ever box and have remained there ever since.
Never Ever –> I hope I never –> Maybe I’ll never –> Maybe I will…
Kay Arthur writes that “Covenant is like the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle that completes the picture of our so-great-a-salvation.” I professed vows when I married Tom to never ever leave or forsake him, but I live my vows every day now. Covenant was the missing puzzle piece that helped me see a picture of never ever commitment rather than never ending pity that unlocked joy and peace in the midst of challenges and struggles. As a result, I have never ever regretted that decision to live a covenant marriage.