“Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 31: To Thy Pleasure and Disposal

December 31, 2016

I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!

Scripture: Luke 1:38; Philippians 2:5-11

glory_cover_finalUnited Methodists have a liturgy for the new year called the Covenant Renewal or Watch Night service. I’ve never been part of a Methodist church that observed it (frankly, it would be a tough sell against our culture’s traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations), but we often include a prayer from the service on or around New Year’s. Wesley didn’t write it, but he adapted it for this service:

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.

The prayer emphasizes God’s sovereignty to a possibly uncomfortable degree. What would it mean, after all, for us to “have nothing” or to be “laid aside” or “brought low” for God? Do you really want to find out? If we did, we might be tempted to imagine that God were punishing us. Not necessarily, this prayer says.

It also challenges us to resist the temptation to imagine God as a sleepy, grandfatherly figure, who may not like what’s going on in the world but isn’t powerful enough to do anything about it. It assumes that what God wants will not be frustrated by human sin or naturally occurring events.

This prayer challenges us to place our lives at God’s disposal, trust that we’ll be O.K. one way or another, and learn to say, “So be it.” Just like Mary in Luke 1:38.

In fact, the prayer puts into words a prayerful response to Paul’s words in Philippians 2, when he urges us to have the “same mind” among us as is in Christ. When we pray, “Let me be empty” and “I heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal,” it’s hard not to think of the self-emptying love of God in Jesus Christ, “who did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself.”

Just think: Christ emptied himself so much that he let himself become the size of a single cell in Mary’s womb. And he let himself be born not in an opulent palace but a lowly cattle stall.

Would you be content to be “laid aside” for God’s sake? Would you be happy if God let you have nothing? Why or why not?

5 Responses to ““Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 31: To Thy Pleasure and Disposal”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Not sure about my answer to your question. I don’t know that I would be happy if God were to “choose me for no use,” so to speak. Paul seems to indicate he wanted God to use him to the maximum extent possible. He also indicated we should build with good, silver, precious stones on the foundation, looking to a reward. Also, Jesus gave the talents parable, again looking to investing to the maximum extent possible, again looking to a reward. Further, I always feel elated in instances where I think God may have used me, however infrequent those may be. So I don’t think I would be happy or satisfied if I thought God was “leaving me aside,” so to speak. (I recognize John the Baptist’s statement about “decrease,” and it certainly recognizes God’s prerogative in how to use us, but I think John may have had in mind more of a “decreasing popularity or notoriety” posture, as opposed to being “less used.” But I am not certain of that.)

    • brentwhite Says:

      But “leaving you aside” not for nothing, but for his sake. He may have a purpose for it that you don’t know about on this side of eternity. Our posture in prayer is, “If this is what you want for me, God, I’ll gladly accept it.”

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        I think this may go along the lines of “lack of notoriety.” If God wants my use to be “obscure” as far as people knowing about it, then I agree I should accept that (much as I would like public recognition! 🙂 ) I just think that we should “want to be used.” (Probably we are in agreement on that.)

      • brentwhite Says:

        I’m presupposing that “being laid aside” is being used.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Okay. Jeremiah was “used” even though virtually everyone he preached to did not respond favorably. Contrast Paul. Either way, God was/is glorified. I think we agree. I just say we should “long to be used,” regardless of “how.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: