The Right Way to Give Up

Pessimistic. Weary. Frustrated. Cynical. Depressed.

I’m encountering lots of people feeling an assortment of these emotions, and I confess to feeling more than one of the above myself as winter nights, gloomy days, end of year deadlines and the Christmas rush combine into a toxic gloom!

When we feel like this we can be tempted into giving up.

  • Giving up on  serving God and others.
  • Giving up on seeking holiness, obedience, and spiritual maturity.
  • Giving in to laziness, self-pity, and irritation with others.

Christians should give up when the going gets tough.

But NOT in any of the ways I’ve just listed! The reality is that we do get tired, overworked, and overwrought. We are finite, flawed individuals, and exhaustion and stress strip away the layers that we use to disguise this most of the time!pexels-photo-253208

Yet the Bible calls Christians to give up in a different sense:

  • We are to give up on our own strength and resources being sufficient.
  • We are to give up on trying to please God by our own merits alone.
  • We are to give up on self-made productivity and achievement.

 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Instead when we our insufficiency is exposed, we are to rejoice in the sufficiency of our God! We are to rest in his provisions and his power.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Our weakness should remind us of our desperate need for a saviour, one who is our Lord, Master and friend. We should give up on ourselves and draw close to our God. In him are new stores of help . . . but he sometimes waits to bestow them until we are humbly conscious of our need.

Like Martha, Jesus’ harried hostess in Luke 10, we often need the reminder to stop rushing around and ‘choose what is better’ – to sit at Jesus’ feet. (Maybe never more so than at Christmas!)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-6

Even though our challenges may continue and our worries remain, the Bible promises us that God’s mercies are new every morning, and that he is steadfast and faithful. He is our living water that never runs dry and the bread from heaven that ever sustains!

Have a joyful, peaceful Christmas!

 

Nim

 

Advertisements

Rocking the Boat

Do you ever let fear or worry stop you from taking bold steps of faith?

Things have been settled in my life for a while, and somewhere along the way I have become a bit boring and safe and…faithless.

Of course in some ways I continue to be faithful – In the sense of being constant, striving for holiness, and seeking to please God. But I rarely make big steps that require faith in God. Instead I scale everything down to my personal achievement level. I don’t take risks.  I am happy with no great extremes of emotion and nothing unexpected, and I avoid anything that might upset the status quo.

I’d rather he didn’t rock my boat by doing anything too exciting. . .

pexels boat

In 2 Corinthians 5:7 Paul summarises the attitude which every follower of Jesus should cultivate, saying: “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

But I’ve allowed myself to dispense with living by faith and instead I live almost entirely by sight every day. Things happen as I plan them, and so I don’t expect God to act in significant ways. In fact I’d rather he didn’t rock my boat by doing anything too exciting.

And yet I am his servant to do good works – by faith! I’m meant to be constant in prayerful reliance upon him. I’m meant to be led by his Spirit.

Please don’t misunderstand me, it’s a great blessing when life is good and we have peace and security. In a world like ours, many don’t have this luxury! But I’ve allowed my settled life to make me spiritually complacent. I find myself making decisions based on how something will impact my comfort levels instead of according to God’s glory and will, and I assess things according to my personal resources, instead of God’s unlimited supply. I am a spiritual control freak and a back seat driver!

But we’ve been studying Hebrews in my small group recently and it supplies some helpful correctives:

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Things not seen”? I don’t like the sound of that. I like concrete evidence, precise plans, and a detailed road map of where God is leading me at all times!

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

As a follower of God, I must live by faith in order to please him! Real, active faith must spring from my trust in God, even when I don’t know where he is leading me or why. I insult my good and wise God when I reject his authority and act as though he is not worthy of my complete trust.

So what is the solution?

Acknowledging the problem is important, and repenting of my wrong attitudes. Yet reminding myself of  God’s character is hugely helpful too. How much easier it is to trust someone with the unknown when you know that they are infinitely wise, sacrificially loving, and eternally faithful!

Romans 8:32 reasons: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

 

A growing excitement for the good and faithful plans of God

I was also greatly encouraged as I read the rest of Hebrews 11 and saw the amazing things that people of faith achieved by following God into the unknown. It made me long for God to do exciting and significant things in and through me too! I want to know more of God’s power and sufficiency in my life. I want to live for his glory, instead of for my own comfort.  I need to let him rock the boat if that is what it will take to call me to authentic faith and service.

Yet God also assures us repeatedly that as well as being faithful to those who trust in him, he is also GOOD! One such verse is Psalm 84:11:

“The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

It is promises like these that give me the courage to step out in faith when God calls me away from the comfort zones that so easily disguise my unbelief and idolatry.  With God’s help (ultimately faith comes from him!) I will continue to trust in his wisdom and goodness as he leads me.

 

Nim

 

Ebenezer

I’m a little stressed right now. My postgrad theology dissertation looms, work is busy, and my diary is full … But I’ve been studying the Bible book of 1 Samuel with a friend and it has provided a helpful reminder:

In chapter 7 after a dangerous battle between God’s people and the Philistines we read:  Then Samuel [God’s prophet] took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” (1 Sam 7:12)

Ebenezer means ‘stone of help’, and whenever the Israelites saw the stone they would remember God’s rescue during this battle. It was a monument to God’s power, steadfast love, and willingness to help his people, and a call for them to trust in him in the future.  What a great antidote to fear, worry, and trusting in the wrong things!journalling

Till now the Lord has helped us.

Remembrance of God’s past help and faithfulness helps us to trust him in the present when life is stressful and we don’t necessarily know how things will work out. Satan loves to attack God’s character and goodness, and to fill us with doubt and unbelief. Yet remembering God’s past faithfulness to us is a great shield against this.

Whether it’s spiritual or physical blessings that we recall, it’s so helpful to our hearts and minds to be reminded of what our God is like, and his willingness to help and provide for us despite our sin and failure.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-3

The Bible is filled with concrete promises like this for us to trust in, but I think there is a place for active remembrance like Samuel’s too. When was the last time you sat down and reminded yourself of God’s particular help towards you in the past? Perhaps you keep a journal and can look back at answered prayers and unexpected blessings, or maybe it’s a case of making time to think through months and years gone by to identify the ways that God has helped you so far? You may even have a literal symbol of God’s provision that you can look at.

Let’s not be forgetful and anxious Christians. Till now the Lord has helped us.

Nim

Quiet Time Qualms

Most Christians try to earmark regular time to spend with God, and it’s often referred to as a ‘quiet time’. I’d certainly recommend it, it’s great to have dedicated time each day to read the Bible, pray, and enjoy the close relationship that God invites us to have with him. Yet I know that I often sabotage myself in this area.

I get up in the morning, fetch a cup of coffee, and sit down for some time with God…and then I heave a sigh, and try to psych myself up to approach him!

Surely God has better things to do?

I expect he doesn’t want to see me after those failures yesterday.

I’m so aware of His awesome holiness and power.

I already feel guilty because I went to bed late and snoozed the alarm this morning.

My phone is urging me to check my Facebook feed.

The day’s tasks are calling for me to begin them.

I can nearly persuade myself in that moment to walk away from my Bible, and put off prayer until another time! Can you relate to this?Quiet Time Qualms

Here are some things I think the Bible has to say to me and to others who struggle with feelings like these. If you are a Christian:

God has already saved you and will not let you go now

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God Ephesians 2:8

You don’t have to persuade God to draw near to you

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty . . . whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:35,37

You don’t have to persuade God to love you

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

You don’t have to persuade God to be gracious to you

If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-2

 

We mustn’t forget how much we need God’s presence and work in our hearts and lives. We must prioritise personal, regular time with Him.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5

Nevertheless we don’t do this in our own strength, but with the help of God’s Spirit, and in light of God’s great love and mercy towards us!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . .

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Matthew 5:3, 6

 

Let’s rejoice and take courage from these truths!

 

Nim

Banishing Christmas Angst

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m a bit of an over-thinker, which can be quite useful for blogging, but it also means that I sometimes miss the wood for the trees!

As Christmas approaches each year I usually get a kind of weird anxiety or ‘Christmas angst’, which looks something like this:

I worry about whether I am being too materialistic?

And whether I am taking enough time in the busyness for God, and making space to meditate on the true meaning of Christmas?  (I can’t seem to stick to an advent reading plan!)

I worry about whether I am grateful enough for Jesus coming to earth, and if I am really worth his love and sacrifice?

And whether my worship is as heartfelt as it could be (I tend to go into automatic mode when I’m singing carols). . .and so on.

I wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way?

 

Missing the Point

Can you see what I’m doing here? I might have good intentions, but I’ve actually made Christmas all about me! And instead of relishing the good news of the Christmas story and letting the truth of it soak in and bless me, I’ve let it become all about what I am doing (or failing to do), what I am thinking and feeling, and whether I measure up! There is a place for reflection of course, yet I’m amazed at how I can distort this until my anxieties squeeze out all the joy.

Fortunately for me, a talk that I heard on Sunday  reminded me that we can see what Christmas is about in the names given to the Saviour whom we celebrate:

Emmanuel: God is with Us

Jesus: God Saves

In these two names I’m reminded that God made the first move (in fact he makes every move of significance!)

Jesus Christ came to earth as a man, to rescue us from our sin.

God proclaims his love, care, and forgiveness for all to see by sending a rescuer to all who will receive him:

. . .the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD NEWS that will cause GREAT JOY for ALL THE PEOPLE. 11 Today in the town of David a SAVIOUR has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth PEACE to those on whom his FAVOUR rests.” Luke 2:10-14

Banishing Christmas AngstSo Christmas is a time where I get to revel in this undeserved rescue, instead of trying to convince myself (and God) that I’m somehow worthy of it. It’s not an opportunity for me to measure how spiritual I am. If I focus on my failings or on arbitrary measures of godliness, I miss the point entirely!

Instead this Christmas, I’m going to focus my attention on God’s radical generosity in sending Jesus, and the news that I don’t need to strive to save myself, I have a saviour! I can rest in the reality of his rescue from sin, which began in a manger in Bethlehem.

All that is left to do is to accept it, enjoy it, and praise him for it.

 

Wishing you a joyful and angst-free Christmas!

Nim

 

 

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas? 

As I write this, Christmas preparations are in full swing, cheery and familiar songs are playing in the shops, and I’ve just put up my Christmas tree. Yet a glance at the news reveals other more sobering realities; not least the recent tragic events in Paris and the steady stream of desperate migrants seeking refuge. We can be tempted to think that evil is overcoming good, that the darkness is stronger than the light, and the cheerful beginnings of the Christmas season serve to make this contrast starker.

So I’m sharing a (reworked) post that I wrote last year, which seems just as relevant now:

sad Christmas

A Light that Shines in the Darkness

In the opening lines of John’s gospel we read: 

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’       

As John continues, we begin to realise that this light is a person – and more than a person, God himself come to earth!

The Bible describes Jesus as ‘the light of the world’ because he is the eternal source of all life and light, and because he is willing and able to banish the darkness. However deep the darkness grows, Jesus Christ has the authority and the power to bring hope that can’t be defeated. He is the conqueror of sin, and evil, and suffering, and all the things that can make us feel as though the darkness is defeating us. And we celebrate the beginning of this rescue at Christmas.

A Light which Conquers

‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ John 1:14

At first the light of the world doesn’t look very significant: a tiny baby, not born in a palace, but in a stable in a tiny Jewish town. Yet we are witnessing the beginnings of God’s rescue plan! And what a comfort to know that our God became flesh, he lived among us, and he knows what it is like to be surrounded by brokenness and evil.

The light that Jesus brings is a light which builds; winning a decisive victory over evil and death at the cross. This victory reverberates throughout history. That is why so many of the carols that we sing at Christmas time contain words like JOY and LIGHT and PEACE and HOPE! It’s not false hope or forced cheer.

A Life-Giving Light

Yes we still live in a troubled world, but we mustn’t lose our nerve when the darkness seems to be all around. Satan wants us to believe that he will overwhelm the light, but the Bible never even sees this as a possibility!

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 

We’re even given a glimpse of the end of the story in Revelation chapter 21:

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” . . . The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light . . . 24 The nations will walk by its light”

So if you are a follower of Jesus the light of the world, then you have every reason for joy, celebration, and courageous hope this season. It’s a hope that we must take every opportunity to demonstrate and share!

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ ‘Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness’

 

Nim

It’s an Endurance Race

Last week I decided to read through the book of Hebrews in the Bible. It’s one of my favourites because of the way it engages with the trials and privileges of following Jesus, and because of the strong encouragements that it offers us.

One of the things that has really stuck with me on this read-through is the focus on endurance. Allow me to take you through some of my highlights in chapter 12:

 

A Need for Endurance

Firstly, all Christians are called to be endurance runners.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for usfixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 

This is not good news for me. I don’t want to endure, I want things to be simple, easy, and fast. More on this in a minute. . .
Endurance 2

In It to Win It

When I’m at the gym, what I wear is carefully chosen – and not for fashion reasons! I wear clothes that are designed for the kind of exercise that I intend to do. They musn’t hinder my movements or distract me as I train. And for the serious athlete, (not me by the way!) anything that might hamper effective training is put on hold until the goal is achieved.  It’s similar with the Christian life, this is a race that we are called to run to the best of our ability: Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

Whatever would get in the way of this spiritual race must be left behind, if we are to run enduringly and well.

 

Painful Discipline That Achieves Great Rewards

The way that the ESV phrases verse 7 is helpful: It is for discipline that you have to endure.

Because another thing that any athlete will tell you, is that training that produces results requires painful effort and discipline. The body must be strictly disciplined and pushed to the limit, so that muscles will grow and lengthen, endurance and skill will increase. My gym instructors often ‘encourage’ us by shouting ‘It’s a good pain!’ What they mean is that the difficult training that they are putting us through is not meaningless or sadistic, the pain that we feel is a sign that it’s producing results!

Verse 6 says: The Lord disciplines the one he loves and verse 7 continues: God is treating you as his children

So it’s not a pointless exercise or meaningless pain, and neither is it the coaching of a strict and unfeeling Father, but the loving, tender, wise training of a Dad who has great dreams for his child when they are grown.

Discipline comes now, so that we are ready for freedom, fruitfulness, and responsibility. See verses 10 &11:  That we might share in his holiness and so that it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. This training brings us into an inheritance which is more wonderful than we can imagine!

 

Vital Training

And yet, so often I’m tempted to give up when the road gets tough and the training seems strict or painful. I confess that I want my life as a Christian to resemble a sprint, a quick burst of challenge and effort, followed by victory and fanfare. Not a long, gruelling, endurance race, where I must focus repeatedly on the goal, to make it to the end without giving in to the pain and weariness that sets in at key points in the course.

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. . . God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Like the long distance runner, whose body and mind is honed by persistent and gruelling training so that they are able to withstand the demands of the race and complete it. All of that pain has had a purpose, they have been successfully trained by it and they reach their goal, winning the prize.

Sometimes I think that we ask God to bless us and give us righteousness and peace without understanding that this is part of his training package!

 

Eyes on the Prize

Verse 2: fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. . .

The spiritual realities of this chapter expose the reality of my faith and its foundations. If I am following Jesus so that he will give me what I want, or so that my life will be comfortable and easy, if I am treating him like some kind of genie, I will leave the race before it really gets started.

. . .For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Bible wants us to know what we have truly signed up for, and whom we have set out to follow, but it also stands at the side lines and cheers us on, telling us to look ahead to Christ who has successfully run the race before us, and now helps us as we run it too.

Because it will be worth it.

This is a race that will end with the greatest celebration and fanfare of all time!

Jesus is our prize, and we are his – eternally!

 

Nim

 

 

Treasure

I can be pretty grumpy at times.

Sometimes I’m irritable just because it’s a Monday, or I haven’t had enough coffee. But I’m sure you’d agree that we live in a world with more than enough real reasons for irritability, worry, and despondency.

So the question I’ve been asking myself this week is: What difference does Jesus make to my experience of life in a difficult world?

Like me, you’re probably watching the news, and despairing over the pain and suffering that many migrants are facing. It’s been making me think – what if that was me? If I was experiencing those horrors personally, would I give up on my faith?

Is following Jesus only for the good times? Is it the privilege of the wealthy, healthy, and happy? (The Bible and human history demonstrate otherwise!)

What if I was to lose everything?  Would Jesus be enough?

It made me think of the two mini parables in Matthew 13:

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.Treasure - God

The good news about God’s kingdom – that his love and home is with anyone who would repent and trust in him through Jesus – is such a precious treasure in itself, that in these stories people sell everything they have to possess it! (And it is a treasure that comes at great cost.)

Yet I can find myself acting as though I have little of value, when I in fact have everything! How short-sighted I am.

John Newton hints at the silliness of this attitude with the following illustration:

“Suppose a man was going to New York to take possession of a large estate, and his carriage should break down a mile before he got to the city, which obliged him to walk the rest of the way; what a fool we should think him, if we saw him ringing his hands, and blubbering out all the remaining mile, “My carriage is broken! My carriage is broken!”

The Works of the Rev. John Newton (Banner of Truth, 1985), 1:107.

Here are some of the other riches that Christians have been given:

  • The riches of God’s grace towards us, expressed in his full forgiveness of all our sins and adoption into his family – Ephesians 1
  • The wealth of God’s eternal kindness to us through Jesus – Ephesians 2:7
  • Stores of new strength supplied by God’s Spirit – Ephesians 3:16
  • Generous and wise provision for our needs – Philippians 4:19
  • An everyday relationship with Jesus Christ that nothing can sever – Romans 8:35

And finally a powerful reminder that ultimately it is God himself who is our treasure, and nothing can part us from him; not our feelings, or experiences, or shifting circumstances:

Isaiah 33:5-7

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

 

In him we are rich indeed.

Nim

Pick Your Battle

Every day is a battle for the Christian.

We’ve got two opposing natures inside us. One which says to God ‘your will be done’ and the second that snarls ‘MY will be done!’
Fighting sin is hard! It can be raw and ugly, and we feel weak and vulnerable. Sometimes we move from repentance to rebellion and back again in a moment.

It is tempting to tire of the fight; to stop striving for holiness and obedience to God, and to let our sinful nature lead us any way it chooses.Pick-Your-Fight

Perhaps there is one particular sin that you can never seem to conquer for long? It’s tempting to just give in once and for all. But it’s a dangerous illusion that giving up is the easy option, because surrendering to our sins leads to pain and hardships too:
Distance from Christ,
guilt and shame,
escalation of sin and increasing bondage to it,
loss of joy and peace,
painful consequences,
isolation,
and fear of judgement. . .

Fighting sin is weary work and we often fail, but it’s a worthwhile pain that, with God’s help leads to:
True repentance,
outpourings of grace,
peace,
humility,
joy,
redemption and renewal,
thanksgiving,
spiritual growth,
and intimacy with Christ.

Christian Hip Hop artist Andy Mineo describes this struggle perfectly in his song Tug of War:

“I’ve got two choices, both require pain
One’s the pain of change or the pain of staying the same
One of them leads to joy, other one leads to shame
One of them leads to freedom the other one keeps me in chains. . . ”
Tug of War, Andy Mineo, Heroes For Sale

So choose your pain. But don’t believe the lie that giving in is easier than fighting!

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:10-14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Don’t give up.

Nim

Growing Pains

This week I’ve been thinking about Christian growth and maturity.

What can I be praying and doing to encourage real change in my heart and life? (With the help of God’s Spirit!) Should it really feel this difficult?! I sometimes feel that all that happens is that I become aware of more sin in my life, seemingly without changing much at all.

In the gracious way that God often uses, he brought a friend across my path to guide me in my thinking.

She keeps this in her Bible, and I found it wonderfully honest and helpful – It’s a hymn by John Newton (the author of Amazing Grace).

…It’s nice to know that I’m not the only Christian who feels this way, and the last verse renewed my excitement and expectation of the work that God is doing in me.

Have a read and tell me what you think!

I asked the Lord, that I might grow

By John Newton

I asked the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know;
And seek more earnestly His face.

Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair!

I hoped that in some favoured hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins–and give me rest!

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part!

Yes more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe!
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds–and laid me low!
“Lord, why is this!” I trembling cried,
“Will you pursue your worm to death?”
“This is the way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”

“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may seek your all in Me!”