No More Doubt
by Mary Lee Treat
You have heard it said, "The longest distance is that which is between your head and your heart," meaning sometimes it takes a long time to really comprehend things we acknowledge quickly through the intellect.
Such was my case in understanding what it means to have a covenant with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is true that repetition is the best teacher. One day, after hearing Ray teach many classes on covenant, I finally grasped the awesomeness of the covenant concept through the gracious intervention of the Holy Spirit. I had a revelation of what the covenant meant to me personally.
Sometime later while Ray was teaching a class on covenant, the Holy Spirit quickened to my memory an important experience I had had several years earlier and my unresolved questions from that experience. I had never connected this experience with the covenant concept until that very moment. It was as though the Lord whispered to my mind, "This is the answer to your question." As I pondered the connection, I slowly began to understand. Let me explain.
We had spent the summer in a remote Mexican town near the Guatemalan border, studying the ceramics Ray had excavated from a site in that area. As I was preparing for our return to our home in Independence, I suddenly felt extremely ill. I thought I would feel better if I rested for a few minutes, but an intense pain in my abdomen quickly incapacitated me.
I called the girls who were packing their things in another room. Not wanting to alarm them I said, "I'm not feeling well. Go quickly to the bodega and tell dad to drive back at once so he can administer to me." The bodega was a large Spanish Colonial house that had been converted into a work area for the archaeologists. It was about a 10 minute walk from our house.
Ray and I had been traveling in Mexico for about 20 years. We had lived in remote places for short periods of time before, and although we knew that there were no hospitals or doctors such as those in Mexico City or the United States, we also felt that the Lord would take care of us when we were seeking to follow his direction.
As I waited for Ray's arrival, the pain grew so intense that I was afraid of losing consciousness. I knew that something life threatening was going on in my body. I also knew that I could not reach a hospital in time for help. I quickly came to the conclusion that if God did not intervene I would die.
When Ray walked into the room I asked him to administer to me and told him that I knew if God did not heal me I would die. He anointed my head and prayed for my healing.
When I realized I was dying, the burning question in my spirit was, "Does God know me?" The question suprised me since I was baptized as a child and had spent all my life seeking to serve the Lord. Even though I had felt his abiding Spirit throughout my life, the question was deeply rooted in me, "Does He know me?"
After Ray finished praying I asked him to read to me from the scripture. He reached up to the shelf where we kept the scriptures and opened the Bible at random. He read out loud the first words his eyes fell upon: "I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26).
In that small bedroom, in that remote town in Mexico, the Word of God brought healing to me. The intense pain began to subside. By the end of the day I was able to get up and finish our packing.
On the trip home and many times since then I pondered my response to imminent death. While I had no fear, I did not have confidence that the Lord knew me. I did not plead with the Lord to save my life for the sake of my children and husband. I had no concern for temporal things. My only concern was if He knew me.
Frankly, I was astounded at this reaction. How could it be that one who had spent her life seeking to serve the Lord could wonder if the Lord knew her? I had been healed many times and spoken to directly by the voice of his Spirit. How could I have any doubt that He knew me? Now, several years later, I believe I understand.
At that time I did not have a full comprehension of what it means to have a covenant with the Lord. I did not know that God only works through covenants and that his word is his covenant to us. Because God cannot lie, whatever his word declares will come to pass.
When I was baptized I did not have full comprehension of his covenant with me. Slowly through the years I have gained this understanding.
How does understanding God's covenantal nature make a difference? The covenant removes all doubt. The terms of my covenant, and yours, is the word of God contained in the scriptures.
If the word of God indicates that covenant people are prosperous in health, relationships, material needs, etc., then these are all my inheritance as a covenant partner with the Lord. He in turn requires me to be fully committed to do whatever he asks.
As an adult I had a "reconversion" when I committed my life to the Lord again. Of course this is what Jesus is referring to in Third Nephi 5:39- 40 [11:37-381. However, because I had not understood that God always works with us through covenants, I did not have the foundation of assurance that comes with that understanding.
In the verses above, the covenant or total commitment of one's life is found in the phrase "become as a little child." It can be made at any point, but the preferred sequence is before baptism. Mosiah 9:41 , 44, 174-180 [18:10,13; 21:31-35] all indicate that covenants are made and then baptism follows as a witness of a covenant already made.
Jesus' own words in Third Nephi 5:40 [11:38], however, offer the solution to those of us who did not fully understand the covenant concept before we were baptized: we can make our total commitment now, as soon as we comprehend the nature of covenant.
Understanding the magnitude of a covenant relationship with the Lord of the universe is a thrilling and humbling experience. I have a small glimpse and it has revolutionized my relationship with my Heavenly Father and his word.
If I had passed over to meet him that day would he have known me? Yes, of course, because he created me. But I did not "know" him as I do now. In Biblical terms, to "know" someone is to have a covenanted, intimate relationship such as husband and wife. The wellknown scripture in Matthew 7:32-33 [22-23] is brought into focus with this understanding:
And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, Ye never knew me (I never knew you, KJV).
The point of the above reference is that even though we invoke the name of Jesus, if we do not have a covenant with him, to serve him to the end, he will not recognize us at the last day.
I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father that he has brought the greater understanding of what it means to have a covenant with him!
This article taken from the Zarahemla Record, issue 69 Sept/Oct 1993.