We celebrate the joy of Christmas with the birth of the infant Jesus. But in the midst of all our holiday celebrations at the end of the year, the cries of the new born struggling to adapt to a brand new world outside the womb brings to mind the words of St Paul in Romans 8:22-23
“For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”
God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ has given us all a new identity as His beloved children and a new vision of life in His Kingdom here on earth. But we are still in the world even though we may not be of the world. We will encounter problems and storms in our lives sooner or later. However, we have God’s promise of His Providence, His Healing and His Protection against evil as we pray the last three petitions of our Lord’s Prayer.
The key to living as God’s child in the Kingdom of heaven lies in the surrender of our will as we pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The discipline of submitting our will to God in all the areas of our lives is a simple and yet a most difficult one. It requires us to search our hearts daily and to be a living sacrifice by seeking God’s will rather than our own. This is the spirit of the Covenant Prayer of John Wesley:
“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 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. Amen”
The Covenant Prayer is a commitment to follow Christ by putting God first in everything in our lives. It is to live our lives not in our own strength but in God’s. For many years, I have prayed this prayer during the Watchnight services on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, like all new year resolutions, the commitment to live out the spirit of the prayer soon fizzled out with each passing day of the new year.
Towards the end of 2013, I was led to read the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of the Alcoholics Anonymous programme. It was an inspiration for a spiritual journey of honesty and humility - to truly live a totally surrendered life to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. May the Lord lead me to walk step by step with Him each day in 2014.