"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
John and Charles Wesley set off for the Americas (before there was a nation called the United States of America) in this third week of October, 1735. He wrote in his diary of their singular purpose:
1735. Tuesday, October 14.—Mr. Benjamin Ingham, of Queen College, Oxford; Mr. Charles Delamotte, son of a merchant, in London, who had offered himself some days before; my brother, Charles Wesley, and myself, took boat for Gravesend, in order to embark for Georgia. Our end in leaving our native country was not to avoid want (God having given us plenty of temporal blessings) nor to gain the dung or dross of riches or honor; but singly this—to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God (emphasis added). In the afternoon we found the “Simmonds” off Gravesend and immediately went on board.
Upon first reading, I thought that the Wesleys had two purposes; 1) to save souls and 2) to live wholly to the glory of God. I read more carefully, he said “our” souls. While there is surely some evangelistic intent in their trip, the Wesley brothers were striving to answer God’s call, which it seems was to go to Georgia. The trip was a stunning failure or so it seemed (a story beyond the scope of this devotion). To discern God’s will and live wholly to do that will, was their goal.
The way in which I came to understand this concept was when I stopped running from God and answered the call to live wholly for the glory of God. I felt called by God to lead a campaign to keep a casino out of my hometown of Kenosha. We wanted to put the matter on the ballot. People of faith from all sorts of backgrounds, all along the political spectrum, came to be a part of the campaign. People who had never been on the same side of an issue came together. We managed to get the issue on the ballot. When we lost-badly, I was devastated. What about God’s promise in Jeremiah to "prosper and not to harm?" God did reveal in that ill-fated campaign that I have a call to lead people of faith, even people who do not agree on biblical interpretation or nuances of theology. As of today, there is no casino in Kenosha and I have learned, as the Wesley’s did before me, that living wholly for God is a matter of heart and action, measured in God’s time and way and not to be measured in my own imagined outcomes.
Lord, give us the courage to follow you with courage and enthusiasm. Help us to remember, even in our darkest moments that you do love us and have a plan for us. Help us to love wholly for you. AMEN.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.