2011, a new year is here! Last year’s triumphs and trials are history. We have a chance to start with a clean slate. It is a new year with new challenges and new blessings just beyond our reach.
I started off this new year in the Methodist Church my son and his family attend. We read aloud Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.
“I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will. Put me doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for You or laid aside for You, exalted for You or brought low for You. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are mine, and I am Yours. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in Heaven. Amen.”
What a prayer of dedication! What a declaration of total surrender to God! As PWs, we’ve made that kind of surrender in the past. We said it with glowing faces, perhaps streaming with tears. Deep in our hearts we know this kind of surrender is what we should do, even if we don’t feel like it. But the realities of that commitment sometimes hit us with crushing force.
Within a few days I was confronted with several situations that made me search my heart about my surrender to God’s will. A few days before I had been in church and ate lunch with a 70 year old prayer warrior and worshipper with a lovely soprano voice. I had not seen her for over a year. She was dressed as immaculately as always and in her graceful way joined my conversation with another friend. Within moments I realized my friend was no longer the alert, thoughtful woman I had always known. She couldn’t complete a sentence without losing words or her train of thought. During worship, she joined her husband to slowly sway to the music, but could not remember the words to the Christmas carols. She doesn’t even remember her daughter. Alzheimer’s has made swiss cheese of her mind.
Then I got an email from a friend whose husband is in the last days of his battle with a brain tumor. Of course, we pray for healing and know God can do it. But we also have to surrender our wishes to His will for this man and his family.
We were also getting ready to return to our host country. Oh, the economy is better there than in the States, but I know neither place is looking forward to a rosy financial future. How long will we be able to make trips back to see our family and friends? What, I thought, does my total surrender mean to me when faced with troubles?
So I had one question on my mind for you. What keeps you doing what you are doing? I started by asking the Oaks of Righteousness group that question. Here are their answers:
- Knowing that I’m making a difference for eternity even when I don’t see it, obedience and love for my Savior, and a desire to give hope to the hopeless.
- Love of God, hurting for those who don’t know this kind of love, and desire for them to experience it.
- I asked Bruce this and his replies were 1) I love to serve. I love to see joy in others that serving brings. 2) I want to hear “well done faithful servant” when I get to heaven. 3) I am storing my treasures in heaven- when I think that way it keeps my priorities straight.
- I think- faith, hope and love are what motivates me. Without faith in God and the true meaning of life, what else is there? I want others to know that hope of glory and the love of Christ.
- Because I love Jesus, because of Isaiah 58 (the true fast), because I do what Jesus modelled to me: loving and serving children and bring them into his kingdom, and because in serving the Lord I can really use all the gifts and talents HE has given me, which is teaching and mentoring people.
- Knowing Him, not just about Him. I can only love and serve as I know His love, lay hold of His sacrifice and care more about His perspective than anyone else.
What about you? Would you like to chime in with what helps you to keep going and doing, even when things don’t go as you hoped? You can email me your answers or comment at the end of this article.
If we are just looking at the things that happen to us and our loved ones in this life, then the Wesley Covenant prayer seems foolish and demeaning. But in light of eternity, God’s plan makes sense. Our small part in it is important to Him, whether it is success or trial in the eyes of the world.
For most of us this year, things will not change very radically. We will carry on with what we know our Father wants us to do. We will intercede for those around us and for those we love far away. But whether we face great difficulties or great success, we know Who we love and trust. Our God is the God of the valleys as well as the God of the mountains. He didn’t take many of the saints of God out of their troubles, but rather was glorified in how they walked through the valley of weeping. He is our Heavenly Father, our Comforter, our Friend.