Where did the year go? Here we are once again on the edge of a new year. New grace for the hour. Renewed strength for the days ahead. Praise the Lord for how He guides us, often in spite of ourselves. I pray your Christmas season has been full of the presence and peace of Christ, as we prepare to go forward into this new year, ever-trusting in our Savior.
Have you picked a word of focus for 2016? My word is “devotion”. It is connected to the idea of wholeheartedness, of coming back to Christ as my center, the Fount from which all of my life flows. I hope to reestablish a more robust daily devotional time with the Lord, and grow in my devotion to Him through prayer and meditation.
One of my Christmas gifts this year lends perfectly to this aspiration. It is a collection of Puritan prayers from the 16th and 17th centuries, entitled, “The Valley of Vision”. It is said, “the strength of Puritan character and life lay in the practice of prayer and meditation”. Many of the Puritans recorded “God’s intimate dealings” with their souls, “to test their spiritual growth, and to encourage themselves by their re-perusal in times of low spiritual fervor”.
I love that expression. Basically: to regroup, rethink, come back to center. Devotion.
To start the new year, below is a prayer from the book to give voice to our praise for God’s faithful love to us this year and to express our desire to go deeper with Him in 2016. Happy New Year, dear friends.
Year’s End, Valley of Vision (page 111)
O LOVE BEYOND COMPARE,
Thou art good when Thou givest,
when Thou takest away,
When the sun shines upon me,
When night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me during another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With Thee as the blessed Pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless Thee that Thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If Thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
Thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see Thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify Thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for Thy use.