Assess your soul as you start the new year

Lay Servant Ministries


The beginning of each new year is a time when I pause to do a “how is it with your soul” assessment. It is the opportunity to reflect on the precious gift of God’s grace and an opportunity “to start again” with a fresh slate by, along with God, erasing the past year’s hurts, failures and sins and to commit anew to realigning my priorities as I seek to be faithful in living into the journey of becoming the person God calls me to be.
Earlier this month, a blog by retired Bishop Kenneth Carder caught my attention. In the blog he talks about how the Covenant Prayer of John Wesley changed his life, indicating that the prayer exposed the limitation of his commitment and admission that he wanted the covenant on his terms.
It prompted me to look again more closely at the Covenant Prayer that many of us have prayed at a Watch Night service in our local church or at a Lay Servant training event. When I looked at it more carefully, I recognized that while I’ve prayed that many times, I hadn’t really taken time recently to carefully look at the words and consider what I was really committing myself to be and do. As I read the prayer more carefully, I found that like the bishop, I only wanted half of the prayer answered. After all, who among us wants to suffer? And yet, as I review my life, I recognize that I indeed have made a commitment and that because of that commitment, through all of the ups and downs of life, God has been there. In the times when it felt like my world was collapsing or I was in danger, there was always that small, quiet assurance: “I am here, it will be OK,” and so I took the next step and the next and the next – whatever they might be.

Thanks be to God for always being there and for the comforting assurance that no matter where, no matter what, God will be there in all that lies ahead and that together with God, all things are possible.
I invite you to also ask yourself the questions “How is it with my soul?” What is my gift? How am I called to serve this year? and to join me in praying the Covenant Prayer (see below) daily for the next 30 days. May we all strive to recommit our whole selves to the service of God.

A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition, United Methodist Hymnal (UMH) #607 (paraphrased)

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
To your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.

Be encouraged by these words from Jesus: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
God loves us – God’s love is forever – God’s love is a daily promise to be with us, no matter what happens!
Thanks be to God!
Happening this month in Lay Servant Ministries – District committees are reviewing the annual reports of lay servants and lay speakers. As we do so, we are reminded that God has gifted each person uniquely for service. There are many ways to serve Christ and the church. Each of us is unique and loved, so let’s be partners with God.
Be watching for notifications of upcoming classes.

Esther Hay is the Blue River District director for Lay Servant Ministries.