The Promise of Eden (part two): The Language of Covenant

“Then the LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.” (Genesis 18:10).

Take some time this day to read, again, our scripture from Genesis 18:1-14. Allow yourself participation in the scene. Hear the words of covenant as spoken by covenant God, afresh and anew in your heart this day. This will be our focus.

Covenant language is not something we understand. We are a promise-making, promise-breaking society. Our word is only as good as our depth, and most days we run shallow. We are surfers, gliding atop the waves of life with little thought of anchoring our words…our souls…to something deeper. Something stable. Someone solid.

A someone named Yahweh…LORD. A covenant speaking, covenant keeping God. He knows about making promises intended for keeping. There are no “gotcha moments” or “maybes” with him. When he utters promise, it is a finished word—a completed history that comes to fruition with the passage of time. His time…not ours. When God says, “I will”…he does. Hovering between his spoken promise and the completion of that promise exists a faith journey that requires trust. And trust is sometimes a difficult embrace.

It was for Sarah. For nearly twenty-five years she had wandered in the desert of her “maybe.” Maybe this year would be the year for her womb to know fulfillment, but with each year that passed, her trust began to fade. Her hope for a child found its deferment…buried beneath the aged flesh that framed her want. Years earlier, her husband took a night walk with this covenant God where the language of covenant was spoken—something about stars and descendants and a night sky filled with a kingly heritage. That had been then, but this was her now. And right now, Sarah was unprepared and, perhaps, unwilling to receive another “maybe.” A long season of waiting (nearly 90 years) boasted the laughter of her doubt.

“So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:12).

And therein lies our pause for this day…

God’s “I will” and our “will I’s?”.

I don’t know about you, but I have had a few “will I’s?” in this season of my current. Questions that voice my doubt. Self-centered seeking that asks…

Will I ever get a book published?
Will I ever own my own home?
Will I be able to pay my bills?
Will I ever lose this weight?
Will I ever be able to memorize Scripture?
Will I ever fulfill what I perceive to be my life’s calling?
Will I ever fully be able to articulate my faith?
Will I ever be able to love others with agapao?
Will I ever manage this balancing act I call my life?
Will I ever be satisfied?
Will I ever get to preach again?
Will I ____________________?

How about you? What are some of the “will I’s?” that inhabit your heart this day? Yours are not mine, but all of them issue forth from our want. Perhaps some of them from our deep well of desire…of lingering hopes that have known deferment for a long season. Like Sarah, we are tempted with our laughter when God makes a visitation to our tent to remind us of spoken covenant—the “I will” from the “I AM” who comes to make good on his word. God intentioned promises that proclaim…

I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
I will remain in you if you remain in me (John 15:4).

I will cause you to bear much fruit if you remain in me (John 15:5).
I will give you whatever you ask if you remain in me and my words remain in you (John 15:7).
I will send the Holy Spirit to be with you always (John 15:26, 16:7).
I will see you again (John 16:22).
I will provide for your needs (Matthew 6:33).
I will give to you because of your asking…your seeking…your knocking (Matthew 7:7-8).
I will love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
I will work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).
I will acknowledge you before my Father because you have acknowledged me before men (Matthew 10:32).
I will write my law upon your hearts and minds. (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).
I will be your God. (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).
I will return (Acts 1:11).
I will _____________________.

No “gotchas”…no “maybes.” Only absolutes because our God speaks only one language. Covenant. His “I will” will always trump our “will I’s?”. Let me write that again, just so you are clear.

God’s “I will” will always trump our “will I’s?”. Why?

Because his words are couched in faithful promise. Our words are laced with questioning doubt. His words run deep. Our words run shallow, and this day, he asks us to ponder the chasm between.

Before we get to Eden (and we are headed there with the next devotion), we must explore this chasm. God required the same of Abraham and Sarah. He asked them to trust a little longer. To believe a little deeper. To linger a little further into the sure probability of seeing promise come to pass. He requires the same from us this day.

As you and I consider the “I will” of our covenant Father, are you willing to trust him a little longer? To believe him a little deeper and to linger a little further within the parameters of his promise for your life? I sure hope so because what awaits you on the other side of your pause is the promise of Eden. A return to the garden of your sacred beginnings. It is a trip I want to make, and I want to make it with you. And so I pray…

Get us there Father…to a portion of sacred trust that walks us all the way home to Eden. You know the way. You made the way, and through our study of your covenant promise, we come closer to tasting the delight of the garden as it was meant to be tasted. Walk us through our “will I’s?” until we safely arrive on the shore of your “I will”. You are covenant God. Yahweh. Promise is your language. Write it across my heart. Penetrate my shallow and pen it deeply within the fabric of my faith. Amen.

As you linger in the truth of God’s Word this day, please add your thoughts by clicking on the word “comment” below and offering some salt and light to our ponderings. Feel free to sign in as an “anonymous” participant if you so desire. I am praying that God’s Word would transcend time and history to become a “now” Word within your spirit even now.

PS: If you have an extra moment, please surf over to Liz’z blog, Kentucky Bound. You will understand why once you arrive.

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(allrightsreserved, elaineolsen – 2008)

11 Responses to The Promise of Eden (part two): The Language of Covenant

  1. 2 Corinthians 1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”

    So thankful I can trust in God’s “I will’s”. Powerful thought – God’s “I will” will always trump our “will I’s”.

    Again, God has used you to speak to my heart,

  2. Meaty stuff! I can always expect to find a good teaching here. No wonder the Lord has opened doors for you to teach. Be blessed, as you are a blessing! Kathleen

  3. Just beautiful, once again.

    However…I had to look twice…I thought it said, “Will I ever be able to love others with agapoo?”


  4. Thanks Elaine for your obedience to God’s call. What an awesome job you are doing through this.

    I must tell you that I didn’t have time to do part one the other day… so this morning I sat down, Bible in hand, and listened to God speak through you. And… you know that I needed it. God’s “I will” does trump every “will I” that I can come up with… and believe me, I have a lot of “will I” right now. Thanks also for allowing me to be real and honest.

    I’ll be waiting for more…

  5. Elaine,

    Enjoyed visiting Kentucky Bound. How cool…..and you winning too! That was also very neat. Congrats my friend. Thanks for Part 2. It is getting better and better.

  6. Hi Elaine, Thank you for your encouraging comment on my blog….As for this post of yours that I just read, “Wow!”…..My husband and I have been waiting on a promise from God for almost seven years now……God knew how much I needed to hear these words today.
    Thank you for sharing them…….I feel renewed in my spirit; waiting on God’s timing is one of the hardest parts of this walk of faith. But at the same time the best part, because when it all comes together, it is such perfect timing.

    God Bless,

  7. Elaine,
    Had a chance to delve into Part 2 this afternoon…I’m still pondering on it. So powerful! There are a couple of issues I’ve been praying about for years and your post made me ask myself today…

    1) has God already answered, and is He waiting for me to discern and accept it?

    2) Is my present state of (what appears to be)contentment or acceptance, actually lack of faith or doubt that God can answer my prayers and change these situations? Further, that God wants to answer these prayers but my unbelief is getting in they way?


    like Abraham and Sarah, is He simply asking me to trust a little longer, believe a little deeper and linger a little further?

    Sorry for rambling here…I’m asking the Lord to help me discern the answer to these questions…

    Thank you for speaking this beautiful message to my heart today.


  8. Oh, and I couldn’t believe what you shared with me about the Academy of Arts! The first play my son was involved in was Man Without A Country, as well! Yet another common thread! Amazing.

    I agree with you about Christian education. For our son, it was one of the single wisest decisions (and investments) we’ve ever made.

    Sorry for taking so much room in your comments! = )

  9. Tracy…
    see comment I left you on your blog via your post about the drama team. You can also e-mail me anytime using the link on my side bar.


  10. Truly this was a powerful Bible study! I never cease to be amazed at the seemingly effortless command you have of vocabulary! Your choice of words is so rich!

    I, too, am so often saying “Will I?” and doubting that I can do whatever it is the Lord is asking me to do. But I have to be reminded that it’s not ME that will do it but GOD THROUGH me! I looked up these verses after I finished reading your post:
    Romans 4: 3 and 13 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed,through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” and
    1 Corinthians 1: 9 “GOD IS FAITHFUL, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    It’s so wonderful to know that we don’t have to rely on ourselves….that HE is FAITHFUL and can never, ever break his promises! Praise God for Covenants!

    God bless you….

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