December 1, 2007

chapel talk

On Tuesday of this past week I had the privilege of speaking at the Emmanuel College weekly Convocation. I was one of three college staff members to share. Speaking in front of large crowds is not one of my favorite things, but I must say that I was grateful to have had the opportunity to share a bit of my story.

All for Jesus!

All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my being's ransomed power;
All my thoughts and words and doings;
All my days and all my hours.

Let my hands perform His bidding;
Let my feet run in His ways;
Let mine eyes see Jesus only;
Let my lips speak forth His praise.

Worldlings prize their gems of beauty,
Cling to gilded toys of dust;
Boast of wealth and fame and pleasure -
Only Jesus will I trust.

Since mine eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I've lost sight of all beside,
So enchained my spirit's vision,
Looking at the crucified.

Oh what wonder! How amazing!
Jesus, glorious King of kings,
Deigns to call me His beloved,
Lets me rest beneath His wings.

Those words speak loud and clear to me. That is the official hymn of Covenant College. As a graduate of Covenant, I sang that at least once a week through all four years of college. This morning I want to focus on two of the lines from the hymn—from the first verse and the last verse. All for Jesus! All for Jesus! & Deigns to call me His beloved.

It is a privilege to stand before you this morning and give you a glimpse into my spiritual journey. I am new to the Emmanuel community and I count it a privilege and joy to be amongst you. When I first began here I’m not so sure I would have been able to say that statement truthfully.

My transition to Emmanuel and life here in Franklin Springs has been a difficult one. It has been one filled with loneliness, grief, fear, uncertainty, quiet, separation and frustration. I left a job I enjoyed, a community I was comfortable in, a city I loved, a church that nurtured and cared for me. I knew when I took this job that it would be a significant transition. But I never could imagine how truly difficult it would be. I thought that all the transitions I had experienced over the years had prepared me for what I would experience—and to a certain extent they have. During the first 8 weeks when I really wondered if I was losing my mind and if I had made a huge mistake, God comforted me. In God’s providence all the quiet and time by myself gifted me the opportunity to meditate on what it means when I say that I believe God is sovereign. Over time things have improved—life is not always pie in the sky—it’s not always easy and comfortable. It is messy and it is hard. But for those of us who know the joy of the LORD and claim Christ we can affirm that even in the midst of difficulty we serve a God who is good, loving, and desires good things for his children.
The first phrase of the hymn repeats the line All for Jesus! All for Jesus! It is my sincere hope and desire that those three words will always influence the ways in which I live my life. It is sweet relief to know that I am not created for my own purposes but rather that I live my life for a God who transcends the pain and difficulty of this life. That I serve a God who loved me so much—loved his creation so much that he sent his beloved son Jesus to die—to die for me—for my sins—my very real and consequential sins. I experience Joy and freedom in the midst of brokenness because Jesus died and three days later rose again that I might know life—Joyful abundant life.

The second phrase that speaks loudly to me in this Hymn is Deigns to call me His beloved. Deigns to call me his beloved. I am the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister—and Chaplain in the Air Force. I have lived in 4 countries—6 states—10 cities—16 houses and attended 11 schools—from elementary through graduate. I am the middle child—I have an older sister--a younger sister—2 brother in laws—a nephew and a niece. I am Fred and Celeste McFarland’s daughter. I am a librarian. I am single. I am a college graduate. I have two masters degrees. But most importantly I am BELOVED and I am God’s Princess. From the time I was a little girl my mother and father have always asked my sister’s and me whose princess we were, at five, ten, sixteen, twenty and even now at twenty eight when I leave home my parents ask me that question and I say with great confidence and assurance that I am GOD’s PRINCESS. I am God’s Beloved Princess. And the thing about is that he calls me his Beloved by no works of my hands—but rather as the song says—Deigns or grants to call me his His beloved. That overwhelms me. The creator of the Universe. The God who spoke all of this into existence. Calls me---Calls me Austina McFarland his beloved.
Living out of that Belovedness means trusting God to provide. Trusting him to provide in the midst of difficulty and in the midst of joy. Trusting that he truly forgives and he desires me to live faithfully. Even when living faithfully isn’t the easy option.

We must live our lives as sons and daughters of the King of Kings. We have no other option. All for Jesus! All for Jesus! Our belovedness is not our own but a gift. Share that gift with those who know the LORD and those who do not. Do not take it lightly. Take it seriously. Live like you believe it in the depths of your soul that you are princes and princess of the King. We are here at Emmanuel because God has called us here. My prayer for our community is that we pursue faithfulness together in pursuit of the holiness, righteousness and justice that we are called to as Beloved People of God.

Posted by Stina at December 1, 2007 2:35 PM