I am often highly annoyed while going through the Starbucks drive-through...because it takes too long. I feel embarrassed typing that out. I can clearly see the line length. I am a return customer. I KNOW how long it is going to take yet, over and over, I am legitimately annoyed that I get to stay in my car and be served made-to-order hot coffee. And you know what? I even get to drink it while it’s hot, because my wild banshee children (whom I dearly love) are strapped in the back and can’t get out and distract me from this joyous hot cup of goodness.
Somewhere along the line I have learned to hit the EASY button.
I am not sure if this is due to the age of social media, where I can see everyone else's seemingly perfect life and, since mine is OBVIOUSLY so much harder, I feel the right to take the easy road. Or maybe it is because, in the chaos that comes with having little kids, working, and managing our house, we are currently in a hard season of life.
And all I want is a hot cup of coffee!
Staples has made a whole ad campaign focused on the EASY button. Truly, it fits our society. If things aren’t fast, easy, and totally satisfying, we have learned that it is okay to bring things to a screeching halt, loudly explain how we have been wronged and demand things be fixed, or walk away completely. This has trickled down to so many areas of our lives. It far surpasses the world of customer service.
I believe this mentality has dangerously weaved its way into our relationships.
I have always been intrigued by the idea of covenant relationships. We live in the age of CONTRACTUAL relationships, because they are EASY BUTTON relationships. A contract is two parties saying, “I will agree to do this and you agree to do that as long as we both agree to the terms of our contract. And at any time, if one of us doesn't want to anymore, we are done.”
Jesus approached His disciples and said “come and follow me,” and then they spent the next three years of their lives together. Committed to each other. They had a COVENANT relationship; they committed all of themselves, their resources, their talents, their time. His followers had access to anything they needed from Him. And the amazing thing is that it was not dependent on anything they did.
It wasn't earned; it was just given.
He gave them access to every facet of His life. They followed Him because He had invited them to. Think about it; it couldn't have been easy for either party. The disciples were continuously getting it wrong. Sending away the children, asking to sit on Jesus' right hand in heaven, denying Him, betraying Him. And Jesus didn't sidestep the issues when they came. He addressed them. Sometimes with a direct, stern, passionate force of emotion that blew everyone over. But even then He didn't turn His back on them.
I imagine Jesus living in today’s world. If He came to us and said “come and follow me,” none of us would go! We would be too busy waiting for the best offer to come around. And surely leaving the comforts of our lives, to follow a radical Man who tells you like it is, probably isn't going to be the most exciting prospect. And even if we did go, as soon as Jesus called us out on the issues in our lives, or our doubt, or pride, you better believe that we would be quick to tell the entire world via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, how poorly we had been treated and how we deserve so much better.
Covenant is hard; it requires true vulnerability and dependence on others.
I don't know about you, but I have been a part of too many contractual relationships. And truly allowing myself to be vulnerable with others, and letting myself depend on them, it kinda gives me hives. But the reason I am uncomfortable with it is because I still believe it depends on ME and if I mess up I will be out. But that just isn’t how covenant works.
A couple years ago, when our small group at church was parting ways, one of the other couples approached us and suggested that, for a year, we commit to having an intentional friendship as couples. We knew these people previously; we all got along well. But, without effort, probably nothing would ever have come of our friendship; our paths weren't going to just cross.
We decided to step into a year-long commitment to be there for each other. We met once or twice a month, ate dinner and prayed together, asking the Lord for direction. When our oldest daughter was hospitalized they showed up. They took shifts with our other girls, came and sat in the hospital so we could take a break. If we had a practical need, they would try to meet it. No questions asked. I knew they wouldn’t bat an eye at changing their plans because we had a true need. And I didn’t feel guilty asking for help, because I knew that was what we had all signed up for.
If it had been a contractual relationship, with all the times we relied on them in a single year, they would have been well within their rights to terminate us.
Then, when they got pregnant with twins, and the wife had to go on bedrest, I went to provide craft and social hour and comedic relief every Thursday. I cleaned out her fridge, made her lunch, finished sewing a birthday present. While I had to give up my Thursday mornings, I was so grateful I got to stand in that place with our friends, that I got a chance to serve them.
All of this might seem rather simple: Grab a friend, be available, stick with them.
However, for someone to suggest US to be their people, now that is a big deal. Our family, while we are faithful friends to those around us, is HIGH MAINTENANCE. We have a daughter with significant medical needs; she gets sick a lot. She spends time in the hospital. We have appointments, travel out-of-state for treatment. AND we have two other little children. We often need help. We aren’t the ideal candidates to form a covenant relationship with. Which is why this is such a perfect example.
Because neither are you.
God has never stopped pursuing a covenant relationship with you. And He Won't. Ever. He created us to walk with Him in the Garden in the cool of the night, to have access and help from His resources and power. He isn’t about to turn His back on us due to our failures, our shortcomings, our sin. And even if you require extra care, even if you are high maintenance, YOU have access to God. There is nothing you have done to earn this access and no way for you to mess up so largely that you lose it.
We were created for Covenant with God.
This is what He wants with us! Let’s purpose to mimic His heart with our human relationships here on earth. It's worth the cost.