Do I trust God with a blank cheque on my life?
That is essentially the challenge of the Wesley Covenant Prayer used by many British churches – including our own – at the beginning of this new year.
The prayer was adapted around about 1755 by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, for use in services for the Renewal of the believer’s Covenant with God.
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to 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 wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
It’s a daunting challenge, running totally against the commitment-avoiding consumerist mindset of our culture. There are no opt-out clauses, no conditions. Commitment is total.
“I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.”
I recall on graduation praying to God: “Lord, I will go anywhere you want (except for Liverpool).” And so I found myself working for the Liverpool Social Services Department. Those three years as an unqualified child care officer were hugely formative.
Then contemplating a career move, a similar prayer: “Lord, I will serve you however you want (but not as a vicar in the Church of England).” So I was accepted for ordination, having a seminal three years at Cranmer Hall, Durham.
I was beginning to realise how God responds to conditional prayers and so some years later, in deciding where to minister, I prayed “Lord, I will move wherever you want me to go (except for the south of France).” And God said “That’s fine with me – you can go to Rochdale!”
But the question still remains for each disciple of Jesus: do we trust him enough to offer him a blank cheque on our lives?
The apostle Paul draws out the implications of God’s astonishing grace:. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
So then how do we resist the anxieties and angst of our culture? How are we to think? The apostle continues: “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
And there’s the key: God’s will for us, for me even, is good, pleasing and perfect. Not only is it good – which is good enough for me; not only is it pleasing – and we all like to be pleased; it is perfect i.e. just right, faultless and flawless. God’s perfect will is for me. And all by grace.
As Frodo Baggins declares to the Council of Elrond: “I will take the Ring though I do not know the way.”
So at this beginning of this new year, may we give God space in our lives so that we can enjoy his good, pleasing and perfect will.
After all he has invested heavily in us – just look at the Cross when Jesus says to us: “I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.” For every covenant is two-way.
Notices and family photo attached.
Every blessing for this new year!
(Now off to the first ParkRun of the year)