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Monday, January 3, 2011

Vista view along the Blue Ridge Parkway in central Virginia
Vista view from the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

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"Thy Will Be Done": A Sigh Or A Song?

"Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10b). "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).

People singing hymns
For many years we've been singing the hymn, "Another Year is Dawning" on the first Sunday of the New Year. It's the perfect hymn to usher in a new year reminding us that we have yet another year to experience God's mercies, His faithfulness and His presence. It's also a year of training for believers in holy service, for proving our trust in God to be genuine, and for giving faithful witness of Christ's love.

Frances Havergal, the author of this hymn, became known as "Fanny across the seas" since she was a British contemporary of famous American hymn writer Frances Crosby who was also referred to as "Fanny".

Miss Havergal was often introduced as the "Consecration Poet" because her poetry (often put to hymn tunes) was an outflow of her walk with God.  It was said that she always lived her words before she would write them.  Her songs were filled with Scripture, many from memory, since she memorized the entire New Testament and much of the Old Testament.  Her most famous hymn, "Take My Life and Let It Be" has called millions to a deeper, consecrated walk with God over the past 136 years.

Frances HavergalMiss Havergal never married and dealt with fragile health throughout her life, eventually bringing on an early death.  She was a woman of great faith who relied on the generosity of those to whom she ministered for financial support. In 1874, "Another Year is Dawning" was her New Year's greeting which she sent out on a specially designed greeting card.  Her fame had spread in England and she was about to be launched as an author in America.  Her agent in New York assured her that it was a done deal.  Finally a letter arrived that she had expected to be her royalty checks, but instead it was a notification that her publisher had gone bankrupt in the Stock Market crash of 1873.

Having "recently turned all her affairs over to the Lord" she bore the crisis with peace and told her friends on Facebook (it wasn't really on Facebook, which hadn't been invented yet, but just seeing if you are reading carefully!):

"I have just had such a blessing in the shape of what would have been only two months ago a really bitter blow to me…I was expecting a letter from America, thirty-five pounds due me, and the possible news that my book was going on like steam.  Instead of all this my publisher has failed in the universal crash…This is not simply a little loss, but an end of all my American prospects."  [or so she thought]

This disappointment was crushing but  she testified
of the reality "of victorious faith which I do find brightening almost daily. Two months ago this would have been a real trial to me, for I had built a good deal on my American prospects; but now 'Thy will be done' is not a sigh but only a song."

When I read her perspective at the conclusion of such a major disappointment I began to think of my usual response when I don't get my way, when I can't figure out what God is up to or when I don't agree with the outcome.  I usually sigh in my spirit and as a concession quote the words of Jesus, "Nevertheless not my will, but Thine be done" emphasizing "nevertheless" instead of "Thy will be done".  But Frances pointed out the difference in her attitude had to do with "turning all her affairs over to the Lord."

Lord's Prayer

"Thy Will Be Done" That's our challenge for readers this first daily encouragement message of 2011. We should be living our lives with an ongoing, persistent, consistent outlook of turning all our affairs over to the Lord. Some of you are beginning the year in the midst of situations that bring fear, anxiety and so much uncertainty. We've been somewhat barraged lately with heartbreaking emails and this message seems very fitting for those of you who've written.  But its a message for us all to store up and apply as we never know what is lurking in the near distance.

For most all of us getting the spiritual (and emotional) victory is a process. To rejoice in God's will when it doesn't coincide with ours takes a great deal of maturity, self-denial, utter humility and complete trust in God.  If we align our attitudes, actions, emotions, and our will with His we will break into song when His will is done instead of heaving a disappointing sigh and grieving the outcome.  We should always align our desires with His, rather than expecting it the other way around.
We pray that 2011 will be an adventure in Christ as we turn all of our affairs over to Him:

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training, for holier work above.
Another year is dawning: dear Father, let it be,
On earth or else in heaven, another year for Thee.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily Prayer: Father, You know our heart and You are familiar with all our ways.  You endure our childish expectations but desire that we grow in our trust toward You by turning all our affairs over to You.  There are things we've been praying about, not just in 2010, but for many years.  Just because we're filling out a new calendar doesn't assure us that everything unpleasant will go away, that all will be new and better. Trials will inevitably work themselves into our schedule, without our choosing the nature of the trial or its debut.  In this new year we reaffirm our commitment to follow You wholeheartedly, trust You implicitly, and serve You zealously.  In the name of Jesus we praise You and thank You for this new year that is dawning in our lives.  Amen.

Take notice: The circumstances were not favorable to Frances Havergal's finances nor was she compensated her for her expertise, skills, or time.  The notification from her lawyer revealed the worst possible outcome she could have expected. And yet it was her attitude and surrender to God's will (not the change of circumstance) that brought about peace, overcoming, and testimony.  Could we not learn and apply this lesson to our own lives!

Jack and Marie 69th wedding anniversary
Yesterday in the course of our chaplaincy visitation we visited with Jack and Marie who were celebrating their 69th wedding anniversary. They married on January 2, 1942 right after the Pearl Harbor attack and shortly thereafter Jack went into the Navy serving till the end of the war in 1945. During that time he was never able to come home. As I walked away after my visit I again congratulated them and Jack smiled at me, raised his arm and said,
"We Made It!"

Two chairs along Meadow View Road, Lancaster County, PA
We pass these two chairs sitting way back in a field off Meadow View Road here in Lancaster County. For some reason I find the chairs very inviting even on a cold winter day. In fact when we do get snow I told Brooksyne we should go sit in them and have Ester take a photo of us!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Video  This is probably the song that Frances Havergal is best known for and illustrates the timeless message of consecration as these young people sing it.

I was unable to find an online audio version of "Another Year Is Dawning" but here are the lyrics. Yesterday we sang it to the tune of "Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus" but it can be sung to other tunes as well, usually Aurelia (The Church's One Foundation)

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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