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.
We prayed this prayer at church last night. I couldn't help sharing it.
"Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation."
1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." 8And they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
On the Road to Emmaus
13That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
36As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" 37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish,[b] 43and he took it and ate before them.
44Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple blessing God.
from the English Standard Version
Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become from us a consuming fire of judgement. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.
From the Grace Central Worship Service January 15, 2006
Click here and listen to Grace Central Sermons. They a good and they are challenging.
"Legalism fails miserably at the one thing it is supposed to do: encourage obedience."
During the time of confession this evening my pastor Greg said these words during his prayer, "We are not people who are characterized by Self Control." So true. And in this new year my prayer is that I might grow in self control.