Sometimes the best way forward is by taking a step back.

I have been greatly influenced by the legacy of John Wesley. His understanding of God as a Father, his deep insights into God’s immeasurable grace, his gift of creating structures that facilitate spiritual growth and his love of questions that go right to the heart of the matter are all great gifts to the modern church and to me personally.

Among the powerful gifts that Wesley left us was the Covenant Renewal Service. (You can check it out here)

As we face a New Year, it is common to focus on our own resolve…or if we are more hip, our lack of it. But Wesley reminds me that my best is inadequate. And it is. Absolutely inadequate. But the Good News is that my Lord is enough.

That understanding doesn’t call me (or any of us) to some esoteric, abstract state, but a real earthy grappling of the great opportunities that lie ahead of us this year. “…Christ has many services to be done. Some are easy, others are difficult. Some bring honour, others bring reproach. Some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal interests, others are contrary to both… Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.

I will fail this year. Probably before the day is out. As I failed yesterday…and the day before…and all of last year! If I am dependent on my own strength, I (and those around me) are to be pitied. But I am not my own person!! As we say in our affirmation of discipleship in our church, I “have been bought with a price.” And His purposes for me…and for you…are true.

Will you join me this year, by the grace of God, in praying the prayer that ends the Wesley Covenant 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 by thee or laid aside by thee, exalted for thee or brought low by 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.*

Happy New Year!

* The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989), 607.