I recently created a 14-day devotional booklet for my church called “Supplying Every Need.” We’re using it to prepare for our upcoming Stewardship Commitment Sunday on November 8. I will be posting a devotional each day between now and then. Enjoy!
When I answered the call into ministry eleven years ago, I can see now that I did so with an unspoken agreement with God. If I could put it in words, it would sound something like this:
“God, if I do this for you—give up a relatively successful engineering career, uproot my family, sell my house, go to seminary, make all kinds of sacrifices—I need you to ensure that everyone—including my district superintendent and bishop—will love me and praise me and think I’m God’s gift to preaching and pastoral ministry, that I’ll move up church ladder of success, that I’ll make plenty of money, and that I’ll become bishop before I’m 45!”
Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but my point is this: I wanted success on my terms. I wanted things to go according to my plans.
A part of what it means to be disciple of Jesus, however, is giving up our plans. It means surrendering them to God.
This is exactly what Paul has done in today’s scripture. He’s in prison. He’s suffering. In fact, he says in chapter 1 that he’s not even sure if he’s going to survive or not. Things weren’t going according to his plans. Yet somehow, in the midst of all this suffering, Paul has composed his most joyful letter by far: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
How is Paul able to be so happy? Because he knows that no matter what he’s going through, God is not only with him, God is working his plan through him. And God’s plans are always better than our own!
Paul’s words in verses 12 and 13 remind me of the John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. Let’s make his prayer our own:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
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.