And are we yet alive,
and see each other's face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give
for his almighty grace!
(Charles Wesley, 1749, MHB No. 709; UMH No. 553)
A person who goes to bed each night confident of waking up the next day with all plans carefully laid out for the day either demonstrates abundant faith in, and gratitude to, the Almighty God; or takes life for granted and shows ingratitude to the Almighty God, the giver and taker of life.
Because many of us take for granted that we will wake up the next day, we do not bother to pray and commit ourselves into God’s hands before we go to bed at night, or thank Him for our lives when we wake up in the morning. We go through the day expecting to be alive the next day; through the week, month, and year expecting to be alive for the next period of time, and by the grace of God, we achieve our expectations.
Charles Wesley, who wrote the above-mentioned hymn, and his brother John Wesley, who was the founder and leader of the Methodist movement and who made the hymn popular as the opening hymn at the annual conferences of the Methodist movement, did not take life for granted or give God’s glory to others. They and other early Methodists appreciated the fact that God’s providence through Jesus Christ, kept them alive from year to year. And so they gave thanks and glory to Jesus by singing that hymn to open their annual conferences. The tradition continues at many Methodist annual conferences today.
Christians today are not as reverent about God’s providence as were the early Christians. Advancements in science and technology, particularly in medicine, have enabled us to prevent, detect, and cure or treat diseases, sicknesses, and illnesses sooner than in the past. We have better and more healthcare providers and facilities than in the past. Better awareness of sanitation and hygiene has improved our standard of living. There is relative peace in this world in the sense that unnecessary wars have reduced. We are better able to detect and take precautionary measures against some natural disasters which in the past wiped out entire communities.
The result is that our life expectancy has increased significantly compared to the days of John and Charles Wesley. Perhaps, because of that, many today do not appreciate the providence of God in our lives. Rather than recognize and give thanks and glory to God, we seem to attribute our good health and longevity to these advancements, in addition to the fact that we have better access to nutrition guidelines, exercise regularly, and take proper care of ourselves. These are all good and must be promoted. However, God said He is the Lord and will not give His glory to anyone or His praise to idols (Isaiah 42:8). When we attribute our very lives and achievements to anything or anyone other than God, we may be unknowingly giving God’s glory and praise to others.
The Methodists must also have taken to heart the wise counsel of our brother James, who said, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:13-17 NIV).
James points out a few things worth emphasizing. First, we do not know what will happen tomorrow. Second, our lives are like a mist that vanishes after a little while. Third, we should understand who holds and controls tomorrow by saying that, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” Finally, if we fail to attribute to God His providence in our lives, we will be boasting and committing evil or sin.
The most basic freedom or liberty any individual has is his or her life. That is why many take life for granted, believing they own it completely, and plan as if they have full and exclusive control over it. Many of us have plans, though some are more elaborate than others. Governments plan. Businesses plan. Even Churches that exist by faith, plan. We plan because, as someone said, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” However, if we fail to understand or recognize that the very foundation of our plans is the Almighty God, we may be taking our lives and future for granted and into our own hands, instead of placing them in the hands of God where they belong.
And so all our plans, New Year resolutions, wishes, and aspirations must be rooted in God, the giver and taker of life, who provides all good things. We need to recognize that unless God blesses our plans or proposals, they may not be as successful as they could have been, if at all. Recognition that our plans are subject to the Lord’s will is what we say in the Lord’s Prayer that, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 KJV)
By the will of God, we are now in the Year 2020. We are alive and see each other’s face. We give glory and thanks to God and Jesus for their almighty grace. We are alive today not because we took better care of ourselves than those who have passed away, but because of God’s grace, mercy, and providence. That is why we should not boast or brag about our lives or anything.
In this Year 2020, may God give us a better than 20/20 vision to see Him clearly. May God give us faith to believe and hope that by this time next year, all of us by His grace can say that we are alive and see each other’s face -- clearly.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers. Happy New Year.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.