Daily Devotion 18 June 2020
Psalm 40:9-11 ‘Praising God, Sharing Good’
9 In the assembly of all your people, Lord,
I told the good news that you save us.
You know that I will never stop telling it.
10 I have not kept the news of salvation to myself;
I have always spoken of your faithfulness and help.
In the assembly of all your people
I have not been silent about your loyalty and constant love.
11 Lord, I know you will never stop being merciful to me.
Your love and loyalty will always keep me safe.
John Wesley’s experience at Aldersgate Street on 24th May 1738, when his ‘heart was strangely warmed’, is well-known, but did you know that his younger brother Charles ‘got there first’, as it were, three days earlier? Appropriately, it was the day of Pentecost, and two days later he began to compose the hymn Where Shall My Wondering Soul Begin? though with a touch of the old despair, Charles added that he ‘was persuaded to break off, for fear of pride’. This is Charles’ own journal entry from 21st May 1738:
I waked in hope and expectation of His coming… I rose and looked into the Scripture. The words that first presented were, ‘And now, Lord, what is my hope? Truly my hope is even in Thee.’ I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in the hope of loving Christ. My temper for the rest of the day was, mistrust of my own great – but before unknown – weakness. I saw that by faith I stood; by the continual support of faith, which kept me from falling, though of myself I am ever sinking into sin. I went to bed still sensible of my own weakness (I humbly hope to be more and more so), yet confident of Christ’s protection.
Reading these words again, two things occurred to me. First, when I’ve chosen the hymn on a Sunday, I’ve noticed that many people seem to sing ‘wandering’ instead of ‘wondering’. A natural mistake, of course, but Charles was very careful with his choice of words. It is true that we all ‘wander from the pathway’, as it were, but Charles is asking us always to have a sense of wonder as we stand before God. In years past, people used the word ‘fear’ – but I prefer ‘wonder’, as it perfectly describes the amazing truth of God’s love for each and every one of us.
The second thing about this entry in Charles Wesley’s journal is that the peace of mind – ‘blessed assurance’ in other words – that you and I can have (and which we need even more in these troubled times), does not insulate us from doubt. Charles was still ‘sensible of my own weakness’. Being aware of our status as beloved children of God should never lead us into pride or complacency, but humbly grateful of God’s continued blessings and his never-failing mercy and love.
God, I rejoice in your essential glory and blessedness.
I rejoice in my relation to you, that you are my Father, my Lord and my God.
I thank you that you have brought me so far.
I will beware of despairing of your mercy for the time which is yet to come,
and will give you the glory of your free grace. AMEN.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Barrie Tabraham.
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