Let us first open with A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside by
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
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 thy
pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.
As we a have devoted this time and this space to God, let us turn to God’s scriptures to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those that wrote the scriptures, and in our lives today:
Proverbs 16:1-9 Common English Bible
To people belong the plans of the heart, but the answer of the tongue comes from the Lord. All the ways of people are pure in their eyes, but the Lord tests the motives. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord made everything for a purpose, even the wicked for an evil day.
The Lord detests all who are arrogant; they surely won’t go unpunished. Love and faithfulness reconcile guilt; the fear of the Lord turns away evil. When people draw favor from the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them. Better a little with righteousness than great profits without justice. People plan their path, but the Lord secures their steps.
I am writing this on January 6, the Epiphany of the Lord. The Christmas season has ended, and we are only six short weeks until the beginning of Lent. The past month and a half has been a whirlwind of exams, work, travel, family, church events, cookies and presents, and sleeping in childhood beds. All of this going on while we were trying to prepare for and celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God with Us. This was a time where I felt like I had very little control of my time, my space, my choices; and because of it I felt burdened with stress and worry.
I do not feel like I am alone when I say that when I am scheduled for, spoken for, and have decisions made for me, I get anxious and irritated. Our culture places a large amount of importance on being self-sufficient and independent. Over Christmas break, I watched the 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In it Rudolph and Hermey both leave their communities in order to find acceptance, but they do so under the guise of independance. Hermey even says. “Hey, what do you say we both be independent together, huh?” The problem with independence is that sometimes we’ll run into the Bumble!
When we are too focused on being independent, or doing things our own way, we forget to do things God’s way. We are created in God’s image, and are meant to live the way God designed us to be: Loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourself. Often when we do things our own way we are failing to love God and failing to love our neighbor. When we are independent and follow our own desires, we are not living as we were designed to live. That is why obedience to so necessary to our lives. When we are obedient in love, we can finally live in the fullness we were created for.
As you reflect with me on this, try meditating on Isaiah 55:8:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”
As you go forward this month take time to meditate on the importance of obedience, and how when we live in God’s design for us, we are more free than when we are being “independent.”
Here are some scripture verses that may help you focus your meditations:
- John 14:15
- 1 Peter 1:14
- Psalm 119:30
- John 8:51
- Deuteronomy 11:1
- James 1:22-25
- 1 Corinthians 15:58
As we close this study, please join me in the Prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to