Post #7 in a Tale of Two Covenants
Have you heard of the Too-knowns and ITKs…?
I heard this Sunday in church that the trouble with man (and woman!) is that he always wants to know. That curiosity syndrome, whatever your culture calls it, it all boils down to the endless hunger to know and know and know. And this happened when our great great great grandparents chose the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of the Tree of Life.
Since then, we’ve been in a constant internal struggle that spills out into every little detail of life- to know or to trust.
And since we’ve sashayed into the love, dating and relationships territory again, we’ll be camping there for a while. Stare at the stars, build us a fire, and have a good time catching up with Anne.
Do you remember our friend, Anne? Ah, if you’ve never heard of Anne, you’d better take a little detour and get to know her in the previous post. We’ll be waiting.
Now to Anne…
So we left Anne in a really good place, boyfriendless and happy. But not for long because as a certain song says, There’s too many fish in the sea. (I love the Marvelettes. Anyone old school like me?) Anyway, that too-many-fish-in-the-sea theory seemed to be working for Anne.
Enter Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. (Honestly, this cliché is so biased against all the wonderful short men out there. So let’s revise that.)
Enter Mr. Handsome! He appeared on a warm February afternoon, in the cool of a boardroom, while Anne was with her boss and colleagues, trying to decide which options were best among all the three they’d heard.
Mr Handsome… we should probably give him a name… how about… Charles? So Charles was part of the third team to make their presentation. The only reason she talked to him and his friends was because they were all to break for lunch after the third presentation by the third team. And that meant they walked out of the room together and had time to go beyond hellos and his.
That was it. A phone number here, a number there, the first phone call, text messages, and what started off as hello became much more…after she was sure they weren’t going to be working together. Anne wasn’t ready for complicated.
And he was a nice guy. And she found out he was looking for a nice girl. She seemed to fit his criteria. He also seemed to fit hers. They had a lot in common. And also not so much in common, to keep their conversations interesting. Who says relationships don’t have a bit of friction?
They would argue about climate change and agree about Jesus. They would disagree about the president and not have a problem with football. He would sweat a gallon gyming in the evening and she would get up before the sun for a brisk walk.
They did Easter together, planning a timetable that fit the churches they both attended. That was a bit of a trial but they made it work. They even managed to appear at each other’s family’s programmes without the drama of everyone asking, Is that your girlfriend? Is that your boyfriend?
Things were going well. And his birthday came around. It was going to fall on a long weekend. Workers’ Day or something. He said he wanted to spend it in Dubai. With her. She said it was too short a holiday to spend half of it in the sky. He didn’t agree. He was buying a ticket and booking a hotel.
Didn’t we say Charles was a nice guy?
How about somewhere on the Volta Lake? Anne suggested. And then Dubai could be later. Maybe when they both synchronized their leave days. He liked the idea and agreed.
So they went to a lovely place on the Volta Lake. She wasn’t even sure how he found it. Some friend who knew a friend who knew the owner. It was perfect.
Except night came and she realised he had expectations and she had hers.
He said he loved her. She also said she did, but love did not mean sharing a bed together at this stage. He said it meant exactly that. Proof of love. For a moment, she could say nothing, do nothing.
Do you mean it? She asked finally.
He said he did. It was his gift to her, to show how much he really loved her.
What are you thinking? He asked, seeing she was saying very little.
Anne was thinking about her ex (remember that guy?). But she couldn’t say so. Guys didn’t react well to their girlfriends’ exs. Actually, no one did.
And then Anne was thinking about something else, too. Because after discovering Romans 8: 1, she also discovered Ephesians 1: 6; to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
This is what happened: For a long time, Anne had wanted to be like Mary the mother of Jesus. Why? Angel Gabriel had called Mary highly favoured. Not just favoured, but highly favoured.
Just imagine what happened to highly favoured people? They were entrusted with carrying, giving birth to, and raising the Son of God! So Anne concluded that highly favoured things were reserved for special women like Mary. Not for her who was just a girl from somewhere in West Africa.
That’s what she thought.
Until one day, she heard it preached that being a Christian qualified her to be part of the elite group of Highly Favoured Ones. And it was all in Ephesians 1 verse 6, where the original Greek for “accepted” actually translates as “highly favoured”.
She, Anne, was highly favoured, and it didn’t just end there, she was highly favoured in the Beloved. Basically, she was loved in the same measure as Jesus the Son of God was loved.
It was like finding treasure.
So standing in the posh, serene lounge with spectacular views, while staring at her very handsome boyfriend who wanted a birthday gift, Anne realised that even though her heart was breaking, one of her prayers was being answered.
Because Christianity was not a fashion statement.
It was not even convenient.
It’s who you are.
To trust, regardless.
That’s when the rubber hit the road. That’s when it became exciting.
Maybe a year ago she would have been torn. A year ago she wouldn’t have had a good comeback. A year ago, she would have been thinking of her deadline for falling in love and getting married. She would’ve said there were no good guys left…so she’d better grab this one and just deal with it.
But not today.
Oh, she might probably cry after this …
But today she knew Whose she was. She knew the Family she belonged to.
She knew she was a Jesus girl.
She knew she was loved.
She knew how loved she was.
She knew she was highly favoured.
And she didn’t know how she was going to mess that up.
Anne didn’t want to think of him as manipulative, but right now, she realised this wasn’t the man for her. Not if he was like this. Not if she had to choose between his love and His love.
So she told him.
He got really upset. Weren’t they both Christians? Why was she always trying to be holier than thou? So what was he? A sinner? Heck, everyone else was doing it. And then he begged. And then got angry.
But Anne had been there before. She knew how it was. She wasn’t trying to say she was better than him, she just knew God had something better for her. She would do it her Father’s way. And that’s why she decided to say, I love you, but no, thank you.
And now the camp fire is waning. What Anne did next, after lying alone on her bed on the night of Charles’ birthday, is a story for another time.
What’s this got to do with the covenant of grace?
The new covenant of grace is all about relationship.
A relationship with a Father who loves you like you’re the best thing that happened to Him. And enjoying that love is part of our faith journey. John says, we have known and believed the love God has for us (I John 4:16). The more you realise how loved you are, the more you won’t stress about anything in your life.
Letting go of the good things go so you can enjoy the God-things.
Because you’re God’s beloved, highly favoured in the Beloved, He’ll give you His best. It’s easy to trust in someone you’re convinced has your best interest at heart.
And just like Anne, I heard in another message (aren’t sermons wonderful?) that temptations cannot succeed against those who know they are loved. That’s why immediately after the Father declared “This is my beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased,” the devil dropped out the word “beloved” every time he tempted Jesus. Check it out!
This week, don’t try too hard. Just trust hard.
You have a Father who loves you and He’ll never short-change you. Focus on that. Focus on knowing how much you’re loved. And trusting becomes second nature.
Stay high on grace!
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