Wesleyan Covenant Prayer: Trust

Artwork by Alex Levin.

Wesleyan Covenant Prayer: “I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.”
A Message on Jeremiah 17:7-8
For Jacksonville First United Methodist Church
Feb. 7, 2021
By Doug Wintermute

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NRSV)

7 Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8 They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.

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Today’s message will be short. We have had a baptism and celebrated the Lord’s Supper both today, and I’ll gladly trade sermon time for those two sacraments.

We continue our Wesley Covenant Prayer sermon series today by exploring the topic of “trust.” And as we do every week, let us now stand (as you are able) and recite the Wesleyan Covenant Prayer together:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Our scripture for today comes to us not from the New Testament, but from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah.

Now Jeremiah is a good person to listen to when it comes to learning about trust. Jeremiah was a prophet who lived in Jerusalem somewhere between 650 to 570 BC who God called to tell the Jewish people that they needed to change their evil ways or bad things were going to happen to them.

Jeremiah lived in Judah, in Jerusalem, during the time of the divided kingdoms. The people at that time had drifted away from the true God. They got caught up in the worship of other gods (with a lowercase “g”), represented by carved wooden objects overlaid with gold. Or worse, the fake god (again with a lowercase “g”) Molech. As part of their worship of this pseudo-deity they would sacrifice some of their children by burning them alive in a fire.

During Mini Methodist Bible study this past Wednesday I actually told the children about this practice. Talk about getting their attention! Some of them reacted vehemently, loudly exclaiming that this was wrong, it wasn’t very loving, and how could parents do this, and things like that. It was pretty impressive how strongly they objected to this and how even they knew that it was not what the true God wanted. They just couldn’t conceive how any parent could do this to their child.

And yet it was done in the ancient world, all in the name of worshiping a false god. They trusted in the wrong things, and murdered their own children as a result of that trust.

Today I want us to explore the topic of trust. The two scriptures we read today, one from Proverbs and one from Jeremiah, tell us a lot about trust.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

And from Jeremiah: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.”

Jeremiah saw the results of misplaced trust. He saw people worshipping false gods and killing their own children. And so he tried to get them to stop it and turn back to God, to place their trust in God. But they didn’t listen, and the country was invaded and the people who survived were driven off into exile.

Trust is an interesting thing. We use it a lot, every day. When we drive down the road we “trust” that the person driving the vehicle coming toward us in the other lane will stay in that lane. And that person trusts that we will stay in our lane.

We trust our spouses and significant others. In those instances where infidelity takes place it’s not that act itself that is so damaging to a relationship, but the damage it does to trust between the two people. That’s not saying that couples can’t work through infidelity, but it is very difficult, painful, and takes a lot of time.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, knew about trust. In the verse of his Covenant Prayer that we are looking at today he says, “I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.”

I believe that phrase is about trusting God.

Now we might say we trust God, but do we really? And how important is it to trust in God?

Trust involves the unknown.

At Mini Methodist I invited one of the kids up to do a “trust fall.” A “trust fall” is when someone intentionally falls backwards and a person or group of people catch them. If you are the one doing the falling it can be quite unsettling because you are falling backwards. You can’t see and you really can’t catch yourself if things go bad.

The kids I did the trust fall with kept looking over their shoulder behind them to make sure I was there. Why? They trusted that I would be there, but our human nature is that we want details, we want confirmation of the data, before we make ourselves vulnerable.

Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Chariots and horses were the tanks and fighter planes of their time in military terms. A greater number of chariots and horses greatly increase one’s chances of winning a battle. But chariots and horses are earthly things, and although we live on earth our focus should be in heaven. We trust in the Lord.

So my challenge to you this week is to trust in the Lord. Not just sorta kinda, but fully trust him. Don’t be turning your head around and trying to see if he is there to catch you before you do a trust fall. Trust in his word that when he says he will be there, he will.

Freely and heartily yield all things to God’s pleasure and disposal. Trust him. Really trust him.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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