Daily Devotion 05 February 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Luke 22:41-42,44 ‘Jesus Prays in the Garden’

41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed: 42 ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ 44 In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. 

For our daughters’ childhood birthday parties, my late husband always ran the games, while I sorted out music when it was needed and provided the food. It was the night before our elder daughter’s eighth birthday party and when she was tucked up in bed, her father went to say goodnight to her. She fished around under her pillow and produced a bit of paper, which began in these exact words, “List of Party Games, in the order in which they are to be played”. She had planned precisely what she wanted !

I think we’re all a bit like that, wanting the security of being in control of our lives and knowing exactly what’s happening. It throws us somewhat when things don’t go as expected and this past year with the pandemic around no one has been able to plan ahead with any certainty at all. We still can’t.

Our Covenant service this year had to be a ZOOM service when we had the chance of promising ourselves to God once more: “I am no longer my own but yours”. They are awe-inspiring words and not ones we always feel able to say. We like to make our own decisions, to choose a path for ourselves – and to leave things in God’s hands is often hard.

However as we learn from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can always tell God what we want, if we are also prepared to qualify our wishes with Jesus’ words: “Yet, not my will but yours be done.” Like the words of our Covenant Prayer, these are words we can never say in our own strength but only with God’s help. In the passage above, we read how extremely painful Jesus was finding it to do God’s will and for some of us there will be times when what we are called to is also painful. But God never asks us to do anything without giving us the strength and resources to achieve it. He is there alongside us at all times.

The prayer of Thomas Merton below is one that I think we can all relate to, particularly in this time of uncertainty. If our desire is to please God and do his will, and that is strong within us, we know that he will lead us by the right road, even when we are not aware of it, and we can safely commit our lives to him.

Prayer of Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.

Reflection © 2021 Ann Caffyn.
Image freely available online.

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