“Faith would be that God is self-limited utterly by his creation — a contraction of the scope of his will; that he bound himself to time and its hazards and haps as a man would lash himself to a tree for love.” — Annie Dillard

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Hebrews 6:13-20
2 Peter 1:16-21

God created a covenant with a human. And I have absolutely no idea what that means. What is a covenant? Why would he create one with me?

Webster  defines “covenant” in theological terms as “an agreement that brings about a relationship of commitment between God and his people.” But this description still lacks something. A thesaurus offers the synonyms: contract, agreement, undertaking, commitment, guarantee, warrant, pledge, promise. How do archaic lingo and apparently cryptic contracts impact my world?

How can words define the color yellow or the emotion sadness?  How can they encapsulate sights and emotions and smells? A friend once told me, “I can’t describe what garlic smells like, but I know it when I catch a whiff.”

What gives a covenant depth, breadth and life?

Words hold power. Reading, writing and speaking exercise this power. The essence of all human relationships expresses itself in word and in deed. The ancients understood this concept. They comprehended the impact of a mere letter, word or sentence. They realized that through words, God spoke creation into existence. Scribes labored meticulously to preserve these precious words with perfect accuracy. Errors were not an option.

In modern America, we fail to comprehend the power of words. We devalue and demean them. Through the years, the poignancy lost authority. We speak flippantly. Our truth is relative. We shy away from honesty and confrontation, and instead choose social acceptability. We promise things and do not follow through. We state an arrival time and appear an hour later. We embellish stories and tell “little white lies.” Our “yeses” are not yeses.  Our “nos” are not nos. We live in a maybe world of unreliable relativity.

Yet God transcends our fickle nature and insincere promises. He utilizes words and employs them with sincerity, precision and perfection. He molds them into a holy agreement, calls it a covenant and invites us to join him in this intimacy.

How strange to be invited into a covenant relationship: a broken, fallible person into a holy perfection. Why me? I know my failings. I know my fickle nature. I know I don’t follow through, I arrive late, and I entertain selfish motives.

God does not. Somehow, inexplicably so, my imperfection does not deter him. I cannot even grasp the significance. I relegate and reduce him to an image I can comprehend. My attempts to encapsulate him assign him human characteristics. I think he too will fail to follow through, arrive late, not meet expectations, drop the ball and be plagued by self-serving motives.

But He will not.

And He offers me the place in something bigger than an agreement, more personal than a partnership: a covenant.

Do your words mean anything to you?
When you say you’ll do something, do you?  Why or why not?
Can you keep another’s confidence?


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