The following quote comes from a prayer in a book of puritan prayers and devotions that Chuck Swindoll referenced a few months back. The prayer struck me at the time and I wrote it down, read it and have come back to it from time to time. These last five lines speak for that puritan, and I think, all of us.
“Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.
Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy,
nor my own Christ to restore my joy,
nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, and rule me. . . .
Then take me to the cross and leave me there.”
The writer was unknown. But the cry of the heart is familiar. We –I – struggle with the whole “who’s in charge here, really?” on a daily basis. My wants, My needs, My life, My time, My things… I could go on but why bother? Truth is at one time in life, my expectations for what it would be like were scripted out in my mind like a finely tuned screenplay for a movie. MY Life. And, truth is, it hasn’t gone exactly as scripted. Surprise! Not.
We puny humans trod, trudge, march, skip, run, along this road called life, going merrily on our way until we suddenly realize the road has changed. At times it’s for better; at times it’s for worse. When it gets better, we smile, we laugh, we pat ourselves on the back, glad to be alive. When it all goes horribly pear-shaped and unrecognizable as our life, we cry out to God, we wail, we gnash the teeth, we ask “Why?”, “How long?”, “What did I do to deserve this?”, “Why am I being punished?” Finally after railing about for a while we get down to the nitty-gritty with Him and ask “Please take this away, far away?”, and then the promises begin, the bargaining commences and we grovel.
If we truly believe He is God, and He is in control of our entire lives-yes, I know it’s a hard concept to swallow at times knowing we are not in control of what is happening; we fall to our knees and we still ask some of those same questions. Only, we add a few more; “Please forgive me?”, “Tell me what to do?”, “Help me to understand?”, and then we listen to His reply. The reply which may be long in coming (to our thinking), may change the way we think and perceive our situation, and may change our point of view entirely. He knows what is happening. He knows that even the no good, horrible, entirely rotten, sad mess is there to galvanize our faith; to bind us close to Him and to show us how to be loved by Him. We still weep; we still ask questions; we still hurt. But He is God.
He loves us, He provides everything we need, He gives good gifts, He prunes so we can be more fruitful and be healthier in spirit, He prepares us for the battles ahead, He spares us from evil, He surrounds us with His angels, and they fight for us because that’s their job. Yet, we sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees.
He created us for His good pleasure. His pleasure. He made us for Him. He sees all of our lives from beginning to end. We can see His work in all things- if we but look. The wrong, the bad, the ugly messes in this world are committed by us, His Creation. But, His will is always done. Understanding the prayer of the puritan helped me realize that his cry, his plea is also mine. Convince me. Then take me to the Cross and Leave. Me. There.
Teach me, purify me, do whatever it takes to get me to the foot of the Cross. Whenever I get to that point where my desperation for Him and His Presence consumes my every breath, my every thought, my every action, motive, attitude and my gratitude, then I will abide in the shadow of the Cross.
There- in the center of His Will.
I’m not there yet.
My life has not gone as I expected it.
But then, I didn’t write the script of my life. He did. And, I am living out that script; looking forward to arriving at the foot of His Cross and staying there instead of coming and going like a fool who can’t make up his mind what he really wants.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: Job 13:15a
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1Peter 1:3-9
God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2: 13b-14