Thy Way Not Mine

"Thy way, not mine, my Lord" penned by Horatius Bonar way back in 1808 helps illustrate the beautiful, inconvenience of faith, as well as, the coordinates for the new year, "Choose Thou for me my friends, my sickness or my health. Choose Thou my cares for me, my poverty or my wealth." 

For some, this is your first time at; brought here by a call of stillness, of waiting, of study, of rest. If so, welcome. Make yourself at home. For others, this is your 7th year here. You have a familiar place at the table.You know your way around my heart and where my soft targets are. And you know that exercising faith can be a life-interrupting, plan-disturbing, goal-delaying, ego-disrupting process.

Thy way, not mine, my Lord. What does that mean for you today? (Especially today.) Is it a sacrifice? An oasis? Maybe it means a chance - either for the first time or the first time in a long time - to get completely lost in surrender.

Years ago, I spent time training in an altitude chamber. As you may know, training at altitude helps you better perform at sea level. The more time you spend up high, the better you perform down low. As a physiologist, that makes good sense to me, but as a believer, it points me in the right direction; which is exactly where we're going.

Today, the rest of the world is attacking, climbing, striving, and getting a jump on this year's agenda, and that's fine. Nothing wrong with that. But as for me and this house, the time you and I normally spend at the gym or on the road, in the pool, in the squat rack, at the track, under the barbell or on the treadmill will be spent in God's word, in prayer and study. Like you, I believe the best way to hit the ground running is from our knees.

Which reminds me, find your place; that place where for the next 10 days you'll go to meet the Lord face to face. You may already have your spot; a closet, the bedside, or next to the couch. In any case, find it. 

Years ago I wrote, "If we have flat abs, but smooth knees, we're in bad shape." I chuckle as I type that, because it didn't mean half as much to me then as it does now, maybe because I mean it, but regardless, it's still true.

And let's read. Let's listen. Let's devour God's Word like never before. You may think that your muscle fibers won't be able to take it if they can't make their way to the gym, but let me assure you, we can go a lifetime without training, but we can't live one second without grace. Let's bask in that truth together.

Thy way, not mine, my Lord.  May the next few days together - and alone with God - help wean us from our dependence on the satisfaction, contentment, approval, pleasure, fulfillment, and happiness we find from this body, and if need be, tear us limb by limb and goal by goal away from any notion that our joy rests in the pursuit of its upkeep.

May the next few days prod us in the direction the Holy Spirit wants us to go; in our thoughts, deeds, motives and longings. May we drench ourselves in the Gospel so that when we emerge from our hiatus and face the life and lifestyle we temporarily elude, anyone who missed us will know we've been with Jesus.

The way we see it, the starting line may as well be the finish. Thy way, not mine, my Lord.

-Jimmy Peña

First Day of 2016 Prayer:

Leading us in prayer is my friend, Scotty Smith.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of a new year, and thank you for all the grace you lavished on us in the past year. There wasn’t a day you didn’t send new mercies and sufficient grace (even when we ignored them); and you steadfastly delighted in us, even when we delighted in anything else but you. Because of Jesus’ finished work, your love for us is irrepressible, immeasurable, and inexhaustible. It’s also the passion and power you use to make us like Jesus. We worship and adore you, for so great a salvation.

And now, in response to the words you spoke through Jeremiah, this is our prayer for the upcoming year. May it be a year filled with getting to know you better and better, and serving you more and more passionately. The lust for praise and power, riches and relationships, comfort and control will be unrelenting. But Father, we want intimacy with you to seize our hearts, schedules, and energy.

May knowing you—in renewed and fresh ways, compel us to love mercy, work for justice and walk humbly with you this year. May we dance and suffer, work and pray, serve and love, all to your glory. Pour out your Spirit in our churches, and give us an invigorated love for our particular church families, as messy as they may be.

May we live each day this year confident of your great love for us in Jesus, surrendered to your sovereign purposes and providences, and filled with longing and hope for the Day Jesus will return to finish making all things new. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

Challenge: Today and this weekend, read Hebrews and Colossians. Praying for you all. See you Monday.