Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spiritual Guidance From John Wesley

As I continue to spend a few minutes most workday mornings in the letters of John Wesley, I find them a curious mixture. Some of them are for business, about houses rented for chapels and where preachers should be assigned. Some of them are for doctrine and church practices. These tend to be very long and difficult to unravel. Often they take the form of: "You wrote 'this', to which I replied 'this'; then you wrote 'this', and I now say this. You would have to have the letters of the other correspondent to truly understand.

But letters of spiritual guidance have, thus far in my reading, been mostly lacking. Until yesterday, when I read a letter Wesley wrote to John Haime, who was either in the army or recently discharged and was a Methodist lay preacher. Here's what Wesley wrote on June 21, 1748.

Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which God hath seen good to try you with. Indeed, the chastisement for the present is not joyous, but grievous; nevertheless it will by-and-by bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness. It is good for you to be in the fiery furnace; though the flesh be weary to bear it, you shall be purified therein, but not consumed; for there is one with you whose form is as the Son of God. O look up! Take knowledge of Him who spreads underneath you His everlasting arms! Lean upon Him with the whole weight of your soul. He is yours; lay hold upon Him.

No one likes to undergo trials, certainly not trials of enough severity they can be called "fiery". But fire purifies, so if one approaches the trial with the right attitude and fortitude, the result will be beneficial.

I suppose this also applies to the trials that cannot be described as fiery, the everyday trials that seem bad for a moment but which really aren't. Such as the driver of the black Kia in front of me, like me poised to turn right at the red light, but who was so timid he/she didn't take advantage of three or four good gaps to pull out onto Walton Boulevard. Thus my commute was 20 or 30 seconds longer this morning. I called that driver a couple of names (fairly mild; nothing I couldn't say in front of the wife). It made me feel good for a moment, but bad afterward.

I missed a refining moment this morning. Perhaps it will return today. O look up! Take knowledge of Him who spreads underneath me His everlasting arms! Lean upon Him with the whole weight of my soul. He is mine; lay hold upon Him.

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