“I FREELY AND HEARTILY YIELD ALL THINGS TO THY PLEASURE AND DISPOSAL.”
Today’s Scripture Reading
6 Listen to what the Lord says:
“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.
2 “Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.
3 “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.
5 My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”
6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Whether we are full and have all things or we are empty and have nothing, to pray, “I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal” is simply to encapsulate the possibility of the previous statements in the prayer. The previous two phrases confessed that, regardless of the outcomes of our participation in God's mission, we generously and wholeheartedly, with an open hand and enthusiastic spirit, submit to God's will.
When we submit to God's will we are yielding to God's mission, which I have stated throughout this book is to restore the world toward its intended wholeness. God's will, then, is that creation would be made whole “on earth as it is in heaven.” God's way of fulfilling the mission of the whole world is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way (and the truth and the life) to wholeness. God's work in the world is agented and delivered by the church, you and me, faithfully abandoning our own desires and self-interest for the sake of the world, in the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit.
“I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal” is, in a sense, the capstone commitment we make indicating that we know full well, as deeply committed disciples, that God desires and preferences trump any desires or preferences that we might have. We also know and make it obvious in this portion of the prayer that our participation in God's work likely will not be thrown away or disposed of, but, if it were, we'd be OK with that.
A couple years ago, I, along with most of my confirmation group-- about fourteen thirteen-year-olds -- volunteered at a nonprofit ministry center in Kansas City. This particular place stored household goods and furniture for people who were coming out of prison or addicts in recovery. Upon our group's arrival, we were greeted by a lovely woman who had been volunteering there three days a week for nearly ten years. Amazing, I know. Aside from this woman story, the day was very unorganized. We made the best of it, however, and when we were told that the ministry needed us to organize the goods on the third floor, our group resolutely set out to make a dent in what was at first glance and overwhelming amount of work. I was glad I had 14 young, strong, and energetic kids to rely on.
We worked 8 hours solid, with a short break for lunch and various moments to goof off (like thirteen-year-olds do, and the forty-somethings who volunteered to lead them). We organized the third floor with thoughtfulness, putting couches with couches, recliners with recliners, rugs with rugs, box springs with box springs, and the list goes on and on. After a day's work, we were proud of our efforts and truly felt like we had helped make it easier for people in need to see what was available to choose from.
Several of my confirmation students were unable to attend that day because of a basketball game period so, since serving was a mandatory aspect of completing confirmation, I took three of the boys from my group back to next weekend. Wouldn't you know, we were sent to the third floor. I said to the woman-- the same woman who was there to welcome us the previous weekend—“Third floor, you sure?” She said, “yes. Last weekend, another group came in and made a total mess of it! It needs to be organized.” With what I am sure was a puzzled voice, I said, “Sounds good. We are on it,” And we went to the third floor, where I had spent eight hours apparently working for no reason. They considered all our efforts to have amounted to no more than a “complete mess.” to my shock, the third floor was arranged completely differently. Eight hours of hard work was disposed of, tossed aside like it wasn't even helpful. The next day, a Sunday, our confirmation group met as usual and I told the group what had happened. One of the students spoke up and said, “It doesn't matter, Chris; We didn't do it so that people would think we did a good job. We did it to serve the best way we could, and that's what we did.”
In addition to recognizing that our work can be disposed of and tossed to the side, we recognize that God is God and we are not. It is God's mission, not our mission. We, the church, are the created, chosen, blessed, commissioned, supported, and sent ones, agenting God's love in and to the world. We are not, however, the architects of the mission. Said differently, the Church does not have a mission; The mission has a Church. Therefore, God's authority exceeds all, And we are to know it, believe it, and live it.
A disciplined life, marked by submission, simplicity, and abandonment of our own interests, can guide us toward becoming cheerful givers instead of entitled consumers. Cheerful givers are generous with their entire lives. They give without expecting anything in return, and this is what God calls us to and what Wesley’s prayer reminds us of. God undoubtedly uses us, and God has great plans for us to carry out God's mission in the world. The work we do in this mission we do cheerfully, knowing we are making a difference and participating with a plan much bigger than any one of us. However, even if God were to discard our work, we'd still do the work-- cheerfully. This is what it means to “freely and heartily yield all things,” and to do so, “for God’s open (thy) pleasure or disposal.”
Am I conscious of when I choose to yield to God's will and work?
In what ways am I currently fulfilling God's mission?
Help us, God, to lead a disciplined life, marked by submission and simplicity. Also, God, may our lives be marked by abandonment of our own interests and measured by our faithful generosity toward others. Amen.
RIGHT OF WAY
As you are out and about today, seek to find an opportunity for someone to get in line in front of you. Perhaps you'll be at a grocery store, a restaurant, the bank, in line for a ticket at the stadium, or in line at a coffee shop. Use this as a moment and a reminder of what it means to yield wholeheartedly.
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