In my last post, I talked about the first step in making one’s covenant with God: “Confiding in God,” the process of confessing, or taking off our “masks” before God. Remember? I wrote that great post about “catfishing?” A couple of you probably read it, didn’t you?
We don’t need to “catfish” God because He knows all about us and loves us anyway.
Wesley’s second piece of advice is a bit more of a challenge: “Compose your spirits into the most serious frame possible, suitable to a transaction of very high importance.” Compose your spirit – not a concept we think about much, at least not in those 18th Century terms.
Magrey DeVega, in One Faithful Promise, reminds us that the word “compose” literally means “with place;” in other words, to “compose” something means to “put something in its proper place.” When music is composed, notes are put in their proper place to create melody and harmony.
When our spirits are “composed,” they are put in the right place in relationship to God. Wesley adds the note of gravity, by reminding us that the composing is to be done “in the most serious frame possible.” “Composing our spirits” means realizing our proper place with God and with others.
Any composed relationship with God begins with the acknowledgment of who God is:
Let my whole being[a] bless the Lord!
Lord my God, how fantastic you are!
You are clothed in glory and grandeur!
2 You wear light like a robe;
you open the skies like a curtain.
3 You build your lofty house on the waters;
you make the clouds your chariot,
going around on the wings of the wind.
4 You make the winds your messengers;
you make fire and flame your ministers.
5 You established the earth on its foundations
so that it will never ever fall.
6 You covered it with the watery deep like a piece of clothing;
the waters were higher than the mountains!
7 But at your rebuke they ran away;
they fled in fear at the sound of your thunder.
8 They flowed over the mountains,
streaming down the valleys
to the place you established for them.
9 You set a boundary they cannot cross
so they’ll never again cover the earth.
Have you ever stood on the top of a mountain, or any place of beauty that only God could have made – and been completely convinced of Gods majesty and your humility? The mountain at Sumatanga, the beach? My father wasn’t given to deep, philosophical statements, but the one I remember was something like, “You know, Earl, the tide is the one thing that man has never been able to control.”
I remember once, being so struck by the majesty of God on the beach. It was warm, but it began to rain a little. The waves were rolling, God was watering the earth, and a sand crab skittered across in front of my feet. I was so moved, I used that as a sermon illustration in my first preaching class in seminary. I thought I’d done a pretty good job, waxing poetic. In the critique, the professor said, “I got your point, but all I could think was ‘Doesn’t he have enough sense to come in out of the rain?’”
Sometimes the feeling of majesty is for us – and us alone. Just one more sign of our proper place in relationship to God.
Looking up at the sky on a clear night? A meteor shower? An eclipse?
Have you ever stopped to consider your body? The complexity of it all?
This God – the one who created all this – wants a relationship with you and me. Not only that, but he wants a close, valued, relationship of trust with each one of us!
Composing Ones relationship with God also means we not only become aware of God’s majesty and power, but also realize the magnitude of trust God places in us. We find ourselves asking the same question asked in Psalm 8 – Who are we?
Lord, our Lord, how majestic
is your name throughout the earth!
You made your glory higher than heaven![b]
2 From the mouths of nursing babies
you have laid a strong foundation
because of your foes,
in order to stop vengeful enemies.
3 When I look up at your skies,
at what your fingers made—
the moon and the stars
that you set firmly in place—
4 what are human beings
that you think about them;
what are human beings
that you pay attention to them?
5 You’ve made them only slightly less than divine,
crowning them with glory and grandeur.
6 You’ve let them rule over your handiwork,
putting everything under their feet—
7 all sheep and all cattle,
the wild animals too,
8 the birds in the sky,
the fish of the ocean,
everything that travels the pathways of the sea.
9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!
In the grand scheme of creation, the beauty God is able to create is astounding. Yet, almost more astounding is the trust God places in our hands. From the first moments of creation, we humans were created to be stewards of the earth – as one commentator says, “human beings have an office in the world … [even] the generic human being is an official in the administrative arrangement of the kingdom of God.”
Yet, that doesn’t mean we see ourselves as masters of the universe, with power and license to do whatever we feel. We are all “parts of the body”, as Paul says.We are all pieces of the great machine called “Creation.” We are managers, not owners. What a great trust the Creator God has placed in us!
The word “humility” comes from word “humus,” Latin for “earth.” As the book of Genesis reminds us, we are all made by God’s precious hand from the “dust of the earth.” From the highest to the lowest, from the most powerful ruler to the most powerless servant, we are all made of the same stuff.
“Composing one’s Spirit” means learning that sort of humility – we are all made of the same stuff, yet that stuff has been touched by God and given the greatest trust ever – take care of all God has made.
Brennan Manning reminds us of the balance needed to truly do this “composing:”
“My dignity as God’s child is my most coherent sense of self. When I seek to fashion a self-image from the adulation of others and the inner voice whispers, ‘You’ve arrived; you’re a player in the Kingdom enterprise,’ there is no truth in that self-concept. When I sink into despondency and the inner voice whispers, ‘You’re a no-good fraud, a hypocrite’ there is no truth in any image shaped from that message.”
Hear Wesley’s words from the invitation to his Covenant Service:
Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray: