I have, on a number of occasions, spoken about or referenced the subject of spiritual covering – whilst always being aware that this can be a contentious subject. After all, it is not directly the language of the Bible, except that we are to be covered by Christ rather than by man. Yet we do see that Paul sent Timothy – which could be interpreted as him being covered by his father Paul. It was not a controlling covering but instead it was one of a loving proud dad, confident in the exploits of his son and knowing that the son will represent the father. Sometimes we can be tempted to reject ‘covering’ because we have been hurt or that the concept is not in the bible as we have been taught it in the past.
The experience of error or pain wounding us shouldn’t mean that we should throw the baby out with the bath water. Covering which is imposed without relationship is more likely to carry with it the elements of control. I do not see covering as an agreement to a set of rules and agreement over points of doctrine or paying fees, although all of those have their place. I consider that it is when I allow myself to be commissioned to carry out the vision of a father or mother. Then I can position myself to be covered by a leader who represents Christ even though I may have no relationship with them. But if I have the heart posture of a son or daughter, I will receive from them as I position myself to honor their lives and teachings. So I try to live with my heart available to receive heaven through one of heavens representatives. I am free to choose and to reposition my heart if Christ is not represented by them in some areas but that does not give me license to criticize or to stop loving them.
Think of an umbrella. I meet many who have experienced ‘covering’ in the form of someone holding an umbrella over their head. I am sure that I am not alone in finding that when someone else holds the umbrella, I run the risk of being poked in the eye, my head scratched or getting rain on my head. This is akin to the covering extended in a form of a more controlling organization. We can have our vision impaired, our heads hurt and still get rained on.
The ‘covering’ that I prefer is when I am given an umbrella and I choose to raise it. As I walk I am able to adjust it without impairing my vision or having my head – my thoughts and dreams – affected. Even if the rain should be blown in my face in a gale, I can move the covering in front of me. It is also more of a multi-colored covering because we can find and choose a variety of coverings. After all Paul told the Corinthians that they had many teachers and yet not many fathers, which implies that we may have many fathers.
Returning to the scenario with Paul sending Timothy, it is very clear that Paul is commissioned to do the works of Christ and that Timothy is to remind those that he is sent to of Paul’s works in Christ. True sons are able to position themselves to receive from fathers because they can, through the maturity of sonship, choose those attributes which remind them of Jesus and overlook those that aren’t.
I do not desire to travel or minister on life’s journey alone. Yes, my covering is Christ but it is also found in the commission of those who I choose to consider fathers in the life of this son, some of whom I have not met.
Those hurt by abusive covering can find great freedom in receiving their umbrella and choosing the segments of that umbrella, the messages and commissioning of many fathers to do the work of Christ. Of course, as in the natural, we will have primary fathers but we will also find the in-laws through marriage as we connect with a variety of families across the earth. Covering is not about control, but protection, favour and support. It is an image of the things we receive through our covering from Christ.