Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. — Ruth 1:16
If you have seen the movie Fireproof, you know that close to the end there is this conversation between Catherine and Caleb regarding the 40-day challenge in The Love Dare:
Catherine: “So what day are you on?”
Catherine: “There’s only 40.”
Caleb: “Who says I have to stop?”
This question is one that is covered in the book during our last day together, Day 40. The authors state, “This book may end at Day 40. But who says your dare has to stop? And as you view your marriage relationship from this point on, we challenge you to consider it a covenant instead of a contract. These two words sound similar in meaning and intent but are in reality much different.” (p. 196) There are profound differences between a contract and a covenant, and in our modern society we often see marriage dealt with as a contractual arrangement (50/50).
But in the Bible we see God dealing with His people in covenantal arrangements. In Day 40 of The Love Dare we see the major covenants in the Bible listed, “God made a covenant with Noah, promising never to destroy all flesh with a worldwide flood. . . . He made a covenant with Abraham, promising that an entire nation would come from his family line . . . . He made a covenant with Moses, declaring that the people of Israel would be God’s permanent possession . . . . He made a covenant with David, promising that a ruler would sit on his throne forever. . . . Ultimately, He made a ‘new covenant’ by the blood of Christ, establishing an unending, unchanging legacy of forgiven sins and eternal life for those who believe in Him.” (p. 197) What is one thing that you can see which these covenants have in common? God has never broken His covenants.
What about in marriage? In Dr. Gary Chapman’s excellent book, Covenant Marriage, he contrasts the differences between contracts and covenants. Starting with contracts, Dr. Chapman says: “1. Contracts are most often made for a limited period of time; 2. Contracts most often deal with specific actions; 3. Contracts are based on an ‘If . . . .,Then. . . .’ mentality; 4. Contracts are motivated by the desire to get something we want; and 5. Contracts are sometimes unspoken and implicit.” In opposition to contracts, Dr. Chapman writes these truths about covenants: “1. Covenants are initiated for the benefit of the other person; 2. In covenant relationships, people make unconditional promises; 3. Covenant relationships are based on steadfast love; 4. Covenant relationships view commitments as permanent; and 5. Covenant relationships require confrontation and forgiveness.” (pp. 6-21) Bottom line—contracts can be broken if both parties agree but covenants are intended to be unbreakable.
In case this is overwhelming and seems impossible, remember to read Day 19 “Love is Impossible.” Just as God keeps covenants, with the Spirit of God within you by virtue of your faith in Jesus and grace given in salvation, you now have the power to be a covenant-keeper. Even if your spouse is not willing to receive your love right now, being a covenant-keeper holds to Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:4-6: “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Write out a renewal of your marriage vows. Decide whether you want to wait until you are reunited after deployment to speak them to each other, or if you can somehow renew your vows while geographically separated. Sign your copy of your vows and frame them to display in your home. If your spouse is not receptive to this idea, take your vows, sign them and keep them in a safe place. Pray for the day that you can speak them to each other.
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
God’s answer in response to why He withholds His blessing: “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. . . . “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” — Malachi 2:14,16
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” — John 15:9
He remembers His covenant forever. . .— Psalm 105:8
Chapman, Gary, Covenant Marriage (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003)
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you; and give you peace. — Numbers 6:24-26
Thank you for joining us in The Deployment Dare!