This post is a few days late, but…it is 2014! Happy new year!
Why do we celebrate the new year? Why is January even the first month of the year? Why is anything what it is? Regretfully, my brain does not contain the information required to answer those questions, but suffice to say that due to the conflation of a number of historical, cultural, scientific and wholly unscientific reasons, the culture we live in has come to recognize the 1st of January as the marking of a year gone by and a new year ahead.
Along with that often come grand plans for self-improvement and change, resolutions to be a better person in the year ahead, etcetera etcetera. (I can’t stop looking at the word “etcetera” now that I’ve typed it out.) I wrote a little last year about resolutions and needing to remember in all our well-intentioned efforts that grace must underwrite them all. God must be our God in weakness and in strength. As Paul wrote, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21) The goal of these habits that we yearly try to adopt is not to make us worthy or gain us righteousness, but rather to remind us that we are in need of a Saviour and that Jesus alone is our righteousness.
This year, I was reminded again of that. Part of John Wesley’s Covenant Service includes a prayer that reads as follows:
Lord, make me what You will.
I put myself fully into Your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for You or laid aside for You;
let me be full, let me be empty;
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart yield all this
to Your pleasure and disposal.
I love this prayer. I pray it every year at Watchnight Service. I do my best to mean every word. But what does that even mean? I say that as though effort alone can change one’s truest intentions. It cannot. Those of us who have struggled with knowing ourselves and wanting our hearts to be pure so that our words will be true understand that well. There comes a point where we reach the end of ourselves and can do nothing more but say, “God, help me to mean these words.”
It occurred to me that even when I am at my ‘best’ in saying this prayer, there is risk of selfishness. Do I truly desire God’s will for me? Yes. But do I desire that for myself or for His glory? I pray that it is more the latter, but surely there is a part of me that wants God’s will because it is what is best for me. Now, God Himself wants what is best for me – for each of us. He wants to give us the best. But I pray I will never be more committed to getting His blessings than I am to bringing Him glory. If His will is for me to be laid aside for Him, to be empty or to have nothing, and I see no benefit in that for me, I pray that I will still find joy in bringing Him praise.
This year, I pray that my greatest motivation will be to see Him glorified.
“And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
– Isaiah 40:5
More than my own salvation or joy, may I long for the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord of all.