There are so many things people do for show or self-interest. So many things that have no substance behind them – whereas we worship the God of Gods, the Light of lights, the true God of true God, who was begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
As one dear friend used to say, if we could just get the percentage of time and energy we spend thinking about ourselves, down by even five percent or so, just think how much more room that would give to think about the Lord and for Him to work!
There are so many calls at this time to put the UK first, or America first, but the highest call of all is to put Jesus first – Jesus, for whom we gladly employ and deploy all our passions, strengths and longings.
At this time when so much is in transition, and when so many things feel topsy turvy, there is no ‘quota’ of worship and prayer that we can ever exhaust, any more than there is any limit to God’s willingness to give Himself to us. I had thought to send out a meditation along those lines at the New Year, but with so many things up in the air and in the balance at this time, let’s take time to dedicate ourselves afresh to the Lord, using this slightly edited version of one of the wonderful retreat talks that my great uncle Frank gave as one of a series of retreat addresses that was published in 1913 under the title of In His Will. We pray it may inspire and draw each one of you deep into the presence of the Living God.
Is it not true that most of us are as close to God as we choose to be? How can we know His deep abiding and the reality of His clear leading if, deep down, what we really want is to get our own way?
The more we set our will to follow the Lord Jesus, and seek to do His will, The more we shall see His power released in and through us, consecrating and redeeming the circumstances in which He has placed us.
There is one condition, however, that we cannot sidestep, and that is that we must always be prepared to forgive those who offend us!
The will of God is not a thing or an abstract theory concerning things that have happened, or that we ought to be adhering to: it is inseparable from the Lord Himself.
When I talk of surrendering my will to the will of God, (or about disobeying it), I am speaking of nothing less than Eternal God Himself, revealed to me in Christ Jesus my Lord. I cannot separate the will of God from God Himself, for the Son is “the Image of God’s person.”
When we hear people speaking somewhat glibly about “God’s Providence,” and about the will of God, let’s strip this back to bedrock and realise that there is no will of God apart from the living person of God Himself.
The thing that matters most of all, therefore, is my union with God, In which my Will and Purpose are absolutely one with His – just as the Son gladly surrenders everything to His Father, even to the point of submitting Himself to the inevitable.
Moment by moment in the life of Jesus, we see Him facing storms of rebellion and rejection, yet still remaining confident in His Father’s will.
In the last moments, as the mob takes arms to slay Him, we see the Eternal Will bending to the storm, neither resisting or refusing, but accepting everything with perfect trust and confidence as He bows His head and cries out, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.”
That is the glory of the life of Jesus, that while bowing to the inevitable, He still enjoyed the inner freedom of the Son of God.
Jesus, You whose name is ever on my lips, You are the Will of God.
You do not send me a prophet to remind me of Your wishes, or a judge to condemn me for failing to carry them out; No, You send me One who comes to me with outstretched arms to draw me right into Your heart.
Were I to quarrel with Your will for me, that would be to treat You harshly.
Were I to turn in fear from You, that would be to refuse to give You that confidence in Your will that You have every right to expect.
But when I yield to You, then I become one with You.
In the light of all that You have done for me, I gladly surrender my will to Yours, for You desire only the very best for me and You invite me higher.
It is into the kingdom of the great King that you invite each one of us; to share the kingship and the royalty of the great King who passed triumphant through the grave, and before whom all creation bows.
When You ask me, therefore, to make the choice between God and my own will, it is for fellowship and partnership with Jesus.
He sits on the Throne that belongs to Him as triumphant man, while Your Spirit gathers the worship of men and women of every age
who have been made members of the Body of Christ.
It is that worship and grace that You bid me to come and share, opening up all that can most attract and inspire a human heart.
To be one in mind and heart and life with You who rule the universe, and that at the small cost of an act of self-committal – forgive me if I ever doubt that it is all worthwhile: I choose You, Lord Jesus, and I will follow You wherever You lead.
I choose to depend on You first and foremost, not my routines and outward circumstances – those things which change and leave me bereft.
Keep me ever zealous for Your honour and help me guard my heart against so many competing attractions, so that You are always first.
Thank You for all the people, books and other resources You provide to help me on my way; and thank You for all the inner resources You grant me to meet the needs of those You have called me alongside, and those You lead me to.
Thank You for this ever-deepening union with You, Jesus, that is the secret point of contact between myself and the heavenly forces that are moving the universe.
This is the union that I have deliberately chosen, and for which, in Your strength, I am prepared to pay whatever it may cost to deepen and enrich.
There are many issues involved in the choices that I make, but let them all be bound up within this desire to increase my dependence on You, to maintain my enthusiasm for You, and to develop this secret inward union with You Jesus, Lord, My King.
Jesus my King,
You are coming to take me into a deeper union and co-operation with Yourself: I, who have so often disappointed not just myself and many others, but You too.
I am making that choice now – new, and yet always the same; new in the strength in which I offer it, and in the determination with which I mean to abide by it.
I come at Your call, and offer You my self-surrender because You desire me, and because Your power is so much greater than either my sinfulness or my weakness.
In silent self-surrender, I cast myself afresh into Your arms.
I come to You and You come to meet me.
In the very silence of this self-committal, I yield myself to You, shutting out all fears for the future even as You in your mercy shut out the past knowing that whatever You please to send my way – or allow the world to bring upon me will but be a test of that self-committal – and will contain with it seeds that bear eternal fruit.