Covenant Friends

1Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.

My Dear Friend,

I suspect that you have figured out by now that I love you. I also suspect that you are discovering that this is an uncommon love. It is not the love that binds two people together in marriage. Neither is it an occasional “let's do lunch” kind of love. No, my friend. This is an enduring love which pairs two spirits dancing to the music that God plays through our hearts and into the hearts of others. This is the kind of love that even if we were dancing through life at opposite ends of the meadow, we would whirl and leap and laugh and, yes, even weep, knowing that what ties us together is not emotional or physical, but eternal.

So today I offer this covenant to you as Jonathandid with David. I give you my sword and my bow, my cloak and my belt--my self, open and vulnerable. You are free to accept this gift or set it aside. I expect nothing in return.

“But how can that be?” you ask. “Every love I have ever received has had strings attached. Surely you expect me to love you back.”

Truly, I do not expect you to love me back. My covenant friendship is a gift. If you choose to receive it, you may keep my love for yourself or you may re-gift it with my blessing. Accepting my love and loving into the heart of another would give me great joy ...

… for the love I give you I am passing on. What I pour into your love-bucket comes from the Eternal Spring of living water which has no end. I start my day soaking in my love of God and soaking up the love that Christ has for me. The Spirit fills my bucket to overflowing simply by praying for you. In fact, it becomes so full that I can hardly carry it anywhere without sloshing God's love back out and into the hearts and souls of the ones I love. I cannot keep it all to myself or I shall surely burst.

Are you ready for this my friend? Is there a longing in your heart for what I have to give you?

“I don't know. I want to trust you, but trust has hurt me in the past. Love has been given and taken away from me many times. Love has manipulated me. Love has made me regretful. Beautiful, seemingly flawless love has developed the warts and pimples of guilt and shame over time. Love has been given to me as a rose and has died leaving only the thorns. I am afraid of where this love might go and where it might end up.”

I do not expect you to trust me, at least not now. This covenant is like my sword. I am laying it at your feet to keep me accountable. Pick it up and challenge me with it on the side of my cheek looking me sternly and straight into my eyes should I ever not live up to what I am promising. Stop me in my tracks, with the tip of this sword under my chin, if our friendship ever begins to veer off-course in a direction that makes you feel the least bit uncomfortable.

And remember, too, that this is not about affection. It is about commitment. In this covenant, I am committing to be your lifetime friend. I will hold you in my thoughts at least once each day for as long as I am able. On most days, those thoughts will be in prayer seeking what lies in the heart of God for you. Even if our lives diverge, even if we are dancing out of each others sight on opposite ends of the meadow, these prayers will continue, not out of obligation but out of joy. For this is how I love God: by passing God's love on to you.

This is a friendship in which it will be safe to be transparent, vulnerable. I will hold what you tell me in confidence unless you clearly intend otherwise. I will not gossip. My intention is to be affirming and honest while always assuming the best. My intention is to love you without entanglement, without ulterior motives, without pressing my own agendas, and without expectations. I will respect your boundaries, both physical and emotional, for by respecting, and, yes, even defending them, I honor you. I honor the eternal depth of our relationship,  and I honor the One who brought us together.

And yet, I will not strive to be all the friend I can be, but rather all the friend you want me to be … and to always be aware of the difference. For the first is focused on me and glorifies only me. The other is focused on you ... and glorifies God.

I will never, ever, hurt you on purpose. Will I hurt you? Surely that will happen. I cannot expect to dance with you through life without occasionally stepping on your toes. I recognize the power of words to heal as well as hurt. My words will not be intended to tease or ridicule. I will not hide my thoughts behind sarcasm. I will not sneak behind lies or innuendo. I pray that my words caress your ears warmed by God's comfort, God's compassion, God's wisdom, and God's laughter.

I want you to know that there was nothing you did that caused me to love you. There was nothing hormonal or fleeting about it. It was my choice. There is also nothing you need to do to keep that love alive. And there is nothing you could possibly do which would cause me to turn and walk away. Our friendship was planted by God and I am thrilled to tend to it, care for it, pour energy into it to help it grow and thrive. It will grow, not like a vine, intertwined and entangled, but like a rose, blooming, continually adding new petals at its center … tender petals with the sweet aromas of honesty, openness, vulnerability, loyalty, and trust.

Dear friend, I soak up the Love of God and am ready to pour it extravagantly into your life just for the joy of it. Because by loving you in this way, I am loving God. I am taking God's love and loving it forward. My only desire is to love you in the way God loves us.

And I am also loving you in the way I want to love myself. This self-love is not focused on what others can do for me, but on how I am able to honestly and openly love who I am and who I was created to be. In that same way, I am loving who you are ... and who you desire to become.

When Jonathan and David became covenant friends, their souls were knit together. I invite you deep into that metaphor. I stand here with two knitting needles and lay one at your feet. When and if you so desire, you may pick yours up as a sign of your acceptance of the covenant. At that time, all I will ask is that you hold it while I wrap God's yarn around its tip and around the tip of mine. And I will pray that whatever we knit together and create from that point forward through our lifetime of friendship will be holy, blessing our lives ... and the lives of those around us.

So take your time, my friend. Take as long as you need. The offer is good for as long as I draw breath. For this offer in many ways is similar to the one I accepted from Jesus long ago when I became a Christian. And it is because of my loving relationship with Him, with my spirit in the process of being knitted with His, that I long to expand this holy fabric to my relationship with you.