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Agreements and Vows

By Tricia Kinsman
In Formed
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Lately I’ve been reading through John Eldredge’s Restoration Year devotional. I had saved it for a whole year and a half before I actually started it. I wanted to get through my other morning readings first before I started this one, and it was almost as if I sensed I wasn’t ready for restoration. Or maybe I was thinking it might be too much work. But as I’ve gone through each daily reading, I’ve realized I started it in just the right year.

This year has required us to sequester in our homes due to Covid-19. It’s given me time to reflect, to pray deeply, and to journal more. Of course, I have to choose that over binge-watching Little Fires Everywhere or Dead to Me. But when I have made the choice, the quiet, the stillness, and the lack of hustle and bustle has allowed me to come face-to-face with the reality of who I am and what I actually believe about myself. I've become aware of struggles I thought I’d completely worked through, only to find them either still present, or morphed into something more manageable. And, I've named lingering negative feelings about my value and worth.

So apparently baking brings me joy…more joy than cooking. A little fact that has helped me put on the Sequester 17, because eating my baked treats also brings me joy. To be honest, I struggle with this little fact about myself since I live alone and have only my parents to bake for. During this season, I can’t give what I bake to anyone else. (I’m no professional, so they might not be asking anyway). My parents are my only baking outlet…that, and my own growing belly. Not sure what to do with that one.

But God has been up to much more in my life than bringing joy in my baking. He has been showing me more of my deeper agreements, and the vows I’ve made over my lifetime. Let me explain….

You see, Satan is the father of ALL lies. “God and Satan are both at work with a plan to capture your heart’s devotion”, as John Eldredge puts it. Satan works to disconnect your heart from God’s love toward you through the wounds you’ve received from friends, lovers, parents, teachers, etc. And my wounds brought messages with them: “you’re too much”, and “you’re not enough”. Because these were delivered with such pain, they felt true. They pierced my heart. Satan always tries to make you question whether God is good or whether you have anything of God (good) to offer.

When the accuser of my heart speaks a lie to me about myself or about the God who loves me, I have a choice. I can make an agreement with the author of lies, or I can see these as lies from the pit of hell. The thing about these agreements is that if you don’t know what God already says about you in Scripture, you’re more apt to fall for the lie.

The agreements I’ve made with Satan usually sound like this,

“I am not worthy to be loved.”

“I have nothing worthwhile to offer others.”

“My voice doesn’t count.”

“I am insignificant/invisible.”

Believing these lies gives Satan a sort of permission to sift me like wheat. It often takes months and years to recognize the lies for what they are. Many go as far back as childhood, and I didn’t even realize Satan was at work way back then trying to separate me from the heart of God toward me. He used my stories of wounding, abandonment, emotional neglect, abuse and trauma to tell me the lies he wanted me to hear. And I subconsciously agreed to those as the truth about myself.

But it didn’t stop there. Out of our agreements, we make vows. Vows that sound an awful lot like a good strategy for living. We subconsciously say to ourselves, “Because I believe this to be true, I vow to live my life in this way.” Sometimes we consciously make vows, like “I will never let anyone into my heart again so I will never be wounded like that again.” And sometimes we don’t realize till later that we had made a vow out of an agreement with a lie about ourselves.

My subconscious vows sounded something like this:

  • “I will find unsafe, unavailable, exploitive people and give my heart to them.”(Lie: I am not worthy to be loved.)
  • “I will never take a leadership role because I have nothing of value that anyone would want to follow” or…
  • “My brokenness discounts me.” (Lie: I have nothing worthwhile to offer others.)
  • “I do not have enough secondary education/seminary training, etc. to move forward with the dreams God has given me.” (Lie: I am insignificant/invisible.)
  • “I will not speak into the chaos because others will just dismiss me or blame me for causing conflict or not being a team player.” (Lie: My voice doesn’t count.)

A.W. Tozer wrote, “…it becomes the devil’s business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. Satan works to keep us bound and gagged and imprisoned in our own grave clothes. He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage…. we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.”

John Eldredge again writes, “Agreements lock the door (to Jesus) from the inside. Renouncing the agreements unlocks the door” (to His healing).

Jesus calls us His beloved, His bride, the ones He chose to pour His love into. I need to often revisit all He says about me and to me in order to discount the lies, the agreements, and the vows. Sometimes it’s a daily process, and sometimes I think I’m living in freedom, but they sneak back up on me as I realize a resistance to moving into a new season, a conflict, etc. Once again, I need to agree to God’s truth, His word about me and for me. I need to recognize the vows I made (how I’m currently operating) and where that’s coming from (the agreements). Then, I ask the Holy Spirit to remind me again of what God says about me.

As the song says, “Tell me once again who I am to You.”

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"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1


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