Friday, January 10, 2014

The Still, Small Voice

Sometimes, the things we write mean more in hindsight than they did when we first wrote them. It may take years for this to happen, or it may take only a few days. On December 30, I wrote this post, looking forward to the New Year: "If I Had Known..."

Since then, I have gone back to read over it at least half a dozen times. You see, I have spent the first 10 days of 2014 watching a close friend go through a difficult, unexpected trial. And I feel as if God is saying, "Do you truly believe what you wrote, Allison? Do you trust Me?"

Several days ago, I came across two prayers from The Valley of Vision that mirrored my previous post.

     A Prayer for Year's End
     O Love beyond Compare,
     Thou art good when thou givest,
          when thou takest away,
          when the sun shines upon me,
          when night gathers over me.
     Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
          and in love didst redeem my soul;
     Thou dost love me still,
          in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
     Thy goodness has been with me another year,
          leading me through a twisting wilderness,
          in retreat helping me to advance,
          when beaten back making sure headway.
     Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
     I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
     With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
     I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
     If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
          thou wilt be with me in them;
     If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
          I shall not drown;
     If I am to die,
          I shall see thy face the sooner;
     If a painful end is to be my lot,
          grant me grace that my faith fail not;
     If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
          I can make no stipulation;
     Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
          as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

     A Prayer for the New Year
     O Lord,
     Length of days does not profit me
     Except the days are passed in thy presence,
     In thy service, to thy glory.
     Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
          sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour
     that I may not be a moment apart from thee,
          but may rely on thy Spirit
          to supply every thought,
          speak in every word,
          direct every step,
          prosper every work,
          build up every mote of faith,
          and give me a desire
          to show forth thy praise;
          testify thy love,
          advance thy kingdom.
     I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
          with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
          thee, O Son, as my helm,
          thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
     Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
          my lamp burning,
          my ear open to thy call,
          my heart full of love,
          my soul free.
     Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
          thy comforts to cheer,
          thy wisdom to teach,
          thy right hand to guide,
          thy counsel to instruct,
          thy law to judge,
          thy presence to stabilize.
     May thy fear be my awe,
          thy triumphs my joy.

The message is simply this: only God knows what lies ahead. What I said of 2013 can also be said of 2014. If I had known what it would hold, how would I have approached it ahead of time. It's a moot point, because we cannot know. We have only to love and to trust, to listen for God in the midst of trials. Which is easy to say, because words are cheap. It is so much harder to do. 

These prayers were what I needed to hear: the Lord asking me to sit still and know that He is God; to understand that while I may not be able to fix things when they go wrong, I can always pray.

Just like Elijah in the midst of the wind and the earthquake, I am listening for the still, small voice.

And though it is a new year, the truth of God's sovereignty and faithfulness is an old one, an eternal one.

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