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“Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee; exalted for thee or brought low for thee”

January 3, 2024
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Daily Scripture

1 Peter 1:13-19, 22-25

13 Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, 15 you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. 16 It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy [Leviticus 19:2]. 17 Since you call upon a Father who judges all people according to their actions without favoritism, you should conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your dwelling in a strange land. 18 Live in this way, knowing that you were not liberated by perishable things like silver or gold from the empty lifestyle you inherited from your ancestors. 19 Instead, you were liberated by the precious blood of Christ, like that of a flawless, spotless lamb.

22 As you set yourselves apart by your obedience to the truth so that you might have genuine affection for your fellow believers, love each other deeply and earnestly. 23 Do this because you have been given new birth—not from the type of seed that decays but from seed that doesn’t. This seed is God’s life-giving and enduring word. 24 Thus,
All human life on the earth is like grass,
    and all human glory is like a flower in a field.
The grass dries up and its flower falls off,
25         but the Lord’s word endures forever [Isaiah 40:6-8].
This is the word that was proclaimed to you as good news.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Many people have said that half of this part of the Covenant Prayer is easy and stimulating to pray, while they’d rather skip the other half. Why not just pray “let me be employed… and exalted for thee”? We can’t control that. Pastor Chris Folmsbee noted, “I know of many who, for various reasons, are unable to be as productive as they wish they could be. Chronic pain, depression, disability, and aging all… play into the reality that all of us become, at some point in our lives, less productive.” *

  • The most pleasant part of this prayer is, “Let me be employed by thee… exalted for thee.” The creation stories (cf. Genesis 1:28-29, 2:15) said God created humans to do useful, helpful work. Yet this too often morphs into gratifying our own ego. The apostle Paul left us a model when some church members were pitting him against Apollos in a kind of “who’s the best preacher?” debate (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-13). When have you been satisfyingly employed in doing God’s work?
  • On the other hand, when (if ever) have you had an experience that felt like being laid aside, even brought low, for God? Nichole Nordeman wrote and sang, “In the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides the temporary trappings of this world…. Not well-traveled, not well-read, not well-to-do or well-bred. Just want to hear instead, ‘Well done, good and faithful one.’” ** Can you pray authentically that you will accept any position, high or low, while serving God?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to serve you and your kingdom. But, although this is hard to pray, I want to serve you selflessly, for your sake rather than mine. Use me in ways that bring glory to you, not to me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas serves in donor relations at Resurrection. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020. Her husband Blake is a provisional elder in the UMC and is a Congregational Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. Her favorite pastimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her daughter and their large orange cat, Tuna.

If you’re a self-proclaimed type A, like me, there’s nothing more exciting or refreshing than a new planner. Unwrapping it may have brought me just a bit more joy than unwrapping some of my Christmas presents. The unknown that this year will bring is so exciting. Especially working for a church, I am looking at these fresh blank pages and wondering what God will do with me. How will God fill up the spaces I can’t even begin to imagine with lives that are changed? How will mine be changed being a part of it? It’s exhilarating.

There’s also a strange sadness as I prepare to throw away my old one. It’s been my companion for a full year. I take it everywhere and scribble notes, to-do’s and reminders. I am flipping through it now reminiscing about 2023 and it’s quite interesting. Some of the pages are absolutely filled to the brim (and I use a week-by-week planner, so some of these weeks seem to have been really busy). Other weeks, there’s hardly anything. I can tell there’s one week I was on the wrong page until Wednesday and so there are tasks crossed out and arrows trying to redirect my mind. The page looks to be as jumbled as my mind must have been.

Right in the middle, there are 3 months when I took maternity leave. It’s making me chuckle because I was flipping through to reflect on how much I accomplished and if you didn’t know me personally, you’d see July-October and at a glance it looks like I accomplished nothing. It’s blank. Yet I know I was busier than ever doing one of the greatest, most challenging, and fulfilling tasks–learning how to mother.

As I open the new pages of my 2024 planner, I am praying for God to help me see beyond the tasks and to-do’s. This year will surely be filled with amazing opportunities. I want to focus on them individually and remember that my planner is a companion, not a dictator of my time. The details of each page are not an indicator of the accomplishments God invited me to be a part of. This year, I am open to seeing how much life happens in the blank space.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Folmsbee, Chris. The Wesley Prayer Challenge Participant Book (p. 65). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
** Nichole Nordeman, “Legacy.” Click here to hear the song. Lyrics at https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/nicholenordeman/legacy.html.