December 29th – Why This ? Why Me ?



One of the most moving preachers I ever had the privilege of hearing a great number of times, was the late Dr. W. E. Sangster. He was pure magic in the pulpit. So much so, that after two or three sentences you didn’t notice his most peculiar accent and speaking mannerisms. He would crack a joke and you’d laugh. He’d say something else and you’d cry. And always his preaching was biblical, evangelical, scholarly, and so down-to-earth that no one could ever misunderstand him. He would reach a conclusion and you’d feel disappointed he was only going to finish after such a few minutes, when of course in reality thirty, or forty, or fifty minutes had fled by. He was a great preacher.
Well, yesterday I spoke of the Methodist annual Covenant Prayer, and Will Sangster was a leading Methodist. This busy, world-travelling preacher was struck down with an incurable, debilitating sickness which left him a human shell, helpless and dependent. He spoke of the Covenant Prayer, and how for over forty years he had used it to covenant himself to God each year. He had used it in ’schools for preachers and evangelists’, but “Oh how different this year”, as he said. A brilliant, busy activist, lying helpless, saying:
“Put me to suffering. Let me employed for you Or laid aside for you”
Imagine, a man, never still, ever about his Father’s business – “Let me be laid aside for you” – a physical wreck; a heart and soul and mind so willing but in a body so paralysed!
The prayer of relinquishment is the hardest of all prayers to pray. This is from Psalm 44, v.9-10 and 20-23
But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies.You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us…… If we had forgotten the name of our God, or spread out our hands to a foreign God, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us for ever.
A Prayer:
Forgive, O Lord, our lack of faith, that when we do not understand, we accuse you; when we are wretched, we blame; and when we are laid aside we are laid so low.

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