Father, we call Thee Father because we love Thee.
We are glad to be called Thy children,
and to dedicate our lives to the service that extends
through willing hearts and hands to the betterment of all mankind.
We send a cry of Thanksgiving for people of all races, creeds, classes, and colors the world over,
and pray that through the instrumentality of our lives
the spirit of peace, joy, fellowship, and brotherhood shall circle the world.
We know that this world is filled with discordant notes,
but help us, Father, to so unite our efforts
that we may all join in one harmonious symphony
for peace and brotherhood, justice, and equality of opportunity for all men.
The tasks performed today with forgiveness for all our errors,
we dedicate, dear Lord, to Thee.
Grant us strength and courage and faith and humility
sufficient for the tasks assigned to us.
By Mary McLeod Bethune, missionary and civil rights advocate.
God, of your goodness,
give me yourself
for you are enough for me.
And only in you
do I have everything.
By Julian of Norwich, anchoress and Christian mystic.
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
God of peace,
Bringer of shalom to a world of unending conflict,
Maker of unity amidst currents of angst,
Giver of the gift of the Lamb who takes away sin and death
by dying and rising in miraculous power,
guide us through this wearisome way
that we might enjoy abundant life in You.
Equip us in the midst of weakness
that we might follow Your word and walk in Your will.
Work in us what brings You greatest pleasure,
for living in Your joy and delight we find You as our greatest treasure.
We look to You, our loving Father.
We look to You, the glorified Son.
We look to You, the ever-present Spirit.
Three in One, thrice holy God,
our lives are Yours,
now and forever.
“Restore us again, O Lord God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance,
and we shall be whole.”
(Psalm 80:19, New Coverdale Psalter)
You, who are beyond me yet near me,
who are at One with Yourself,
yet interacting with a confused world:
speak wholeness into me.
You, who are God of all and over all,
who are holy, holy, holy,
yet are merciful beyond measure:
breathe wholeness into me.
You, whose presence is brilliance and light,
whose majesty is incomprehensible,
yet whose light brings illumination so personal:
shine wholeness into me.
You, who know all things comprehensively,
who have created the world in grandeur,
yet who intimately knows each one:
mold wholeness into me.
You, God, holy and mighty—
You, God, loving and merciful—
You, God, majestic and personal—
make me whole like You.
One of the most striking aspects of the writing and teaching of Dallas Willard is his ability to open up with fresh perspective what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. One of Willard’s most powerful contributions to disciple is found in his explanation of Jesus’ well-known invitation:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Willard refers to our discipleship response to this invitation as living in “the secret of the easy yoke” in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines. As I recently re-read Renovation of the Heart, I came across this basic description of what Willard sees as the essence of discipleship in the easy yoke of Jesus. I hope it speaks to you as much as it did to me.
Jesus heard the soul’s cries from the wearied humanity he saw around him. He saw the soul’s desperate need in those who struggled with the overwhelming tasks of their life. Such weariness and endless labor was, to him, a sure sign of a sou not properly rooted in God—a soul, in effect, on its own. He saw the multitudes around him, and it tore his heart, for they were ‘distressed and downcast’ like ‘sheep without a shepherd’ (Matthew 9:36). And he invited such people to come and become his students (‘learn of me’) by yoking themselves to him—that is, letting him show them how he would pull their load. He is not ‘above’ this, as earthly ‘great ones’ are, for he is meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:28-30).
His own greatness of soul made meekness and lowliness the natural way for him to be (Philippians 2:3-11). Being in his yoke is not a matter of taking on additional labor to crush us all the more, but a matter of learning how to use his strength and ours together to bear our load and his. We will find his yoke an easy one and his burden a light one because, in learning from him, we have found rest to our soul. What we have learned is, primarily, to rest our soul in God. Rest to our soul is rest in God. My soul is at peace only when it is with God, as a child with its mother.
What we most learn in his yoke, beyond acting with him, is to abandon outcomes to God, accepting that we do not have in ourselves—in our own ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—the wherewithal to make this come out right, whatever ‘this’ is. Even if we ‘suffer according to the will of God,’ we simple ‘entrust our souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right’ (1 Peter 4:19). Now, this is a major part of that meekness and lowliness of heart that we also learn in his yoke. And what rest comes with it!
[From Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 209.]