As this year comes to a close, I look forward to the next one. I look forward to purchasing next years hunting license. I look forward to lying down on the frozen ground surrounded by decoys trying to call geese down into our set. I look forward to the sounds of a gobbling tom as he gets closer and closer. My heart skips a beat thinking about the cool September mornings in the mountains in pursuit of elk. My mind prepares itself for the eerie soft padded footfalls of a black bear as it comes in from behind. My eyes prepare to sharpen their focus for wolves in the high country. My brain runs through multiple different tactics for setting foot holds for the wily coyote. My senses tune and adjust in anticipation of next years white-tail season. I don’t know about you…but I’m looking forward to the uncertainty of next year. Hunting is an all-senses endeavor. It takes ‘all of me’ to fill my freezer and adorn my wall. Hunting also prepares me for worship.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, by one of the scribes. He replied, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ Mark 12: 29-30
The greatest commandment is to take ‘all of me’ and offer it to the Lord for service and devotion to Him and His plan. I must worship Him with ‘all of me’…not some of me. This sounds easy enough, however, since I am me, I’d really like a roadmap with directions and the ‘rest stops’ and ‘scenic views’ clearly marked. I’d like to be able to take the map and plan out my route. Decide what time I’m leaving and be able to pack the stuff I’ll need and then set out with clear definable benchmarks to measure my progress. Does this sound like too much to ask? Even a topo map would do, this way I can discern the terrain and decide whether four wheel drive is necessary or even a good pair of hiking boots. Will I need to pack a lunch or will there be places to buy sustenance along the way? Especially as we ready ourselves for a new year filled with uncertainty.
I’ve realized that my desire for a map calls into question ‘all of me’ and reduces my worship to ‘some of me’. As if I’m questioning the plan and wisdom of my Almighty Lord. As if I’m asking to check the route to insure that no details have been overlooked. As if…I trust me…more than I trust God.
Luke 23:46 says, And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.
Even on the cross, in His last moments of life, Jesus was still committed to doing the will of His Father. Jesus lived a life of total commitment. He worshiped His Father with His heart, soul, mind and the very last ounce of His strength. He gave ‘all of Him’ in service to His Father’s plan. What makes this statement on the cross so remarkable is what Jesus said right before it. “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?”
In the darkest hour, when Jesus felt separation from His loving Father, He cried out those chilling words which cause all Christians to pause…and wonder why? Yet, from those emotions of abandonment, those feelings of being alone, Jesus affirms God’s plan even though the map was hidden from Him. At that darkest hour, a new light was seen, a new plan was revealed, an old love was burning anew. Through the impression of God’s absence, God’s presence was given. When it seemed the darkness won, Jesus trusted.
We stand on the Eve of a New Year, much uncertainty, much fear, much trepidation stands in front of us out there in the dark. We see with eyes not fully tuned to the forces at play. We hear with ears not fully inclined to the voices of wisdom and reason. We attempt to ready ourselves for the unknown while we wait for a roadmap which clearly marks all of the ‘pitfalls’ and ‘construction warning’ hazards. This reminds me of the words penned by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908, in a poem entitled, “The Gate of the Year”.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’
And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand
Of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
Do I trust?
Do I trust God enough to place my hand in His even though it is dark? Even though I can’t see what may happen? Even though the future looks uncertain and it seems that darkness has won? Do I trust enough to worship my God with my heart, with my mind, with my soul, and with the last ounce of my strength? Do I trust enough to give God my ministries through my church, my book, my family, my life. Do I trust enough to give ‘all of me’ to all of Him?
A New Year awaits me…and you. On this Eve, let us all reach blindly out into the darkness and find God’s hand. From Him…all things flow. It will take ‘all of us’ filled with ‘all of Him’ to change the uncertain darkness into an ‘all revealing Light’. As this year comes to a close, I look forward to the next one.