FRIDAY MORNINGS IN THE VALLEY: FREEDOM

As often as I’m able, on Friday mornings, I like to post a prayer from The Valley of Vision.  In this mid-morning installment, I’ve chosen the prayer entitled, “Freedom.”  I was particularly blessed by this prayer’s focus on God’s monergistic work in our salvation.  How underserving we are, and how marvelous his grace to us in revealing the truth of the gospel to us that we might enjoy him forever!

O HOLY FATHER, thou hast freely given thy Son,

O DIVINE SON, thou hast freely paid my debt,

O ETERNAL SPIRIT, thou hast freely bid me come,

O TRIUNE GOD, thou dost freely grace me with salvation.

Prayers and tears could not suffice to pardon my sins,

 nor anything less than atoning blood,

but my believing is my receiving,

for a thankful acceptance is no paying of debt.

What didst thou see in me?

that I a poor, diseased, despised sinner

should be clothed in thy bright glory?

that a creeping worm

should be advanced to this high state?

that one lately groaning, weeping, dying,

should be as full of joy as my heart can hold?

that a being of dust and darkness

should be taken like Mordecai from captivity,

and set next to the king?

should be lifted like Daniel from a den

and be made ruler of princes and provinces?

Who can fathom immesurable love?

As far as the rational soul exceeds the senses,

so does the spirit exceed the rational in its knowledge of thee.

Thou hast given me understanding to compass the earth,

measure the sun, moon, stars, universe,

but above all to know thee, the only true God.

I marvel that the finite can know the Infinite,

here a little, afterwards in full-orbed truth;

Now I know but a small portion of what I shall know,

here in part, there in perfection,

here a glimpse, there a glory.

To enjoy thee is life eternal,

and to enjoy is to know.

Keep me in the freedom of experiencing thy salvation continually.

[Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1975), 56.]

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8 thoughts on “FRIDAY MORNINGS IN THE VALLEY: FREEDOM

  1. Nice poem Kevin, but does it help one get through the struggles of life down in the dirt where I live? This is a Big prayer…I am grateful for it but struggle to see God in the daily struggles of life in the world where struggles for sin abound and wondering if God is around at all. Can I overcome sin? Be sanctified in my the world in which I live where Christians are few are far and life seems lonely…will God answer this sinners prayers… Thanks for the blog.. I follow it!

    • Suzanne,

      Thanks for your honesty!

      I do think this prayer is spoken from a heart well-acquainted with the struggles and “muck” of real life here on earth. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus came from his glorious position in heaven to live “down in the dirt where [we] live.” He faced every temptation that we face, and was well acquainted with the struggles of human life, yet was without sin. The author of Hebrews writes:

      “[15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV

      This is good news for those who trust in Christ alone for their salvation! Because Jesus faced the very world we live in and obeyed God’s law perfectly, God the Father gives the perfect righteousness of Christ, as a gift, to those who believe. Thus, we can approach God confident that he hears our prayers and gives grace that goes further than our sin; because, we’ve been accepted by him because of Christ’s efforts and obedience, not our efforts and obedience. Similarly, John writes:

      “[9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
      [2:1] My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 1:9-2:1 ESV

      Jesus is our righteousness as Christians. God has freely accepted the believer based on Christ’s performance for them! So, we can have total confidence before God knowing that we’ve already been fully and freely accepted by Him based on the finished work of Christ for those who believe! Sanctification occurs as we, by God’s grace, embrace, believe, understand, meditate upon, and preach to ourselves the good news of the gospel every day! We grow as Christians, not through continual self-examination, but as we dive more deeply into the truth of the gospel looking outside of ourselves to Christ and his work for us.

      Life, no doubt, can be exceedingly difficult at times. However, the grace of the gospel reminds us that even in the most trying situations and the deepest struggles with sin, we have a faithful and living advocate in Christ! He always lives to make intercession for the believer before God the Father! That’s good news!

      I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to find a gospel-preaching, Bible-believing church in your area. I trust that God will grow your community through the local church. Also a couple resources that may be good to check out are:

      Tullian Tchividjian’s recent post: “The Pitfall of Perfectionism”

      Joe Thorn’s new book: Note To Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself

      Blessings in Christ!

      • Thanks for the comment to my comment Kevin. I actually am a member of Harvest, serving, in a small group, in the word, and also listen to Tullian once in a while as well as Piper, Driscoll, and the big guy in RM. I have heard about half of the Jesus plus nothing sermons. Why then if one is ‘doing’ the right things does life seems discouraging and the temptation to walk away is always there. What hope is there to the lost around me when they seem to have success in life more than I? There needs to be more.. I am a driven person… maybe this is why the resting is Jesus finished work is something I have not grasped..Honestly… the abundant life? Really Lord? I just see your sheep struggling in the thicket. I can totally relate the young woman taking her life. I am not contemplating such but it is something I can understand.

        Thanks again. I look forward to hearing you preach again..

      • Suzanne,

        Glad to hear you’re involved in areas of fellowship and community at Harvest! Regarding your response…you’re not the first person to raise questions about the apparent prosperity of those living life apart from the Lord. Jeremiah and Asaph also raised similar concerns to the Lord…

        Note Jeremiah’s complaint…

        “[12:1] Righteous are you, O LORD,
        when I complain to you;
        yet I would plead my case before you.
        Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
        Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
        [2] You plant them, and they take root;
        they grow and produce fruit;
        you are near in their mouth
        and far from their heart.
        [3] But you, O LORD, know me;
        you see me, and test my heart toward you.
        Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
        and set them apart for the day of slaughter.”
        -Jeremiah 12:1-3 ESV

        Asaph, as well, voices initial discouragement when he considers the way of the unrighteous (those who are not trusting in the grace of God to make them righteous)…

        “[73:1] Truly God is good to Israel,
        to those who are pure in heart.
        [2] But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
        my steps had nearly slipped.
        [3] For I was envious of the arrogant
        when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
        [4] For they have no pangs until death;
        their bodies are fat and sleek.
        [5] They are not in trouble as others are;
        they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
        [6] Therefore pride is their necklace;
        violence covers them as a garment.
        [7] Their eyes swell out through fatness;
        their hearts overflow with follies.
        [8] They scoff and speak with malice;
        loftily they threaten oppression.
        [9] They set their mouths against the heavens,
        and their tongue struts through the earth.
        [10] Therefore his people turn back to them,
        and find no fault in them.
        [11] And they say, “How can God know?
        Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
        [12] Behold, these are the wicked;
        always at ease, they increase in riches.
        [13] All in vain have I kept my heart clean
        and washed my hands in innocence.
        [14] For all the day long I have been stricken
        and rebuked every morning.
        [15] If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
        I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
        [16] But when I thought how to understand this,
        it seemed to me a wearisome task,
        [17] until I went into the sanctuary of God;
        then I discerned their end.
        [18] Truly you set them in slippery places;
        you make them fall to ruin.
        [19] How they are destroyed in a moment,
        swept away utterly by terrors!
        [20] Like a dream when one awakes,
        O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
        [21] When my soul was embittered,
        when I was pricked in heart,
        [22] I was brutish and ignorant;
        I was like a beast toward you.
        [23] Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
        you hold my right hand.
        [24] You guide me with your counsel,
        and afterward you will receive me to glory.
        [25] Whom have I in heaven but you?
        And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
        [26] My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
        [27] For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
        you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
        [28] But for me it is good to be near God;
        I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
        that I may tell of all your works.”
        Psalm 73:1-28 ESV

        Elsewhere, the psalmist writes…

        [7] that though the wicked sprout like grass
        and all evildoers flourish,
        they are doomed to destruction forever;
        Psalm 92:7 ESV

        Truly, we often face the temptation of measuring God’s love and favor toward us in terms of our material/social prosperity. God, however, has demonstrated his great love and faithfulness toward his people in the life, death, and resurrection of his only Son! The joy of the Christian life is not found in possession of earthly treasures, but in the fact we’ve been given the gracious gift of forever treasuring Christ! God has promised to give us all we truly need in Christ, not necessarily the things that in the selfishness of our hearts we may want here and now.

        When I’ve faced similar discouragement, I’ve held to Paul’s words in Galatians 6,

        “[9] And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. [10] So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
        Galatians 6:9-10 ESV

        Paul encourages us not to give up in doing the works we’ve been freed to do. Additionally, he helps us find joy by getting our eyes off of ourselves, looking for opportunities to bless others out of the overflow of the gift of righteousness we’ve received in our union with Christ through his Spirit. However, our Enemy, the Devil, always wants us to doubt God’s goodness and grace. He wants to deceive us, as he did our first parents in the garden, that what God has given us isn’t really enough. Thereby getting us to turn our backs on God and try to take the matter of our lives into our own hands. The temptation to give up will be one that rears its ugly head from time to time. As we see time and time again in Scripture, attempting to live this life on our terms never goes well. It always ends up with discouragement and hurt in the end. We must always remember that the life lived to the glory of God, in the grace of Christ, will ultimately lead to the blessing and eternal joy of beholding the face of Christ forever!

        God is faithful, and is working all things together for good…don’t give up!

  2. Totally love Valley of Vision. Here’s a favorite of mine:

    “My dear Lord, I can but tell Thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but Thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired.”

    I’m taking this as another sign that we need coffee together sometime. Have a great weekend, bro!

  3. Hi Kevin, I really really connect with this part of this poem:

    “Now I know but a small portion of what I shall know,
    here in part, there in perfection,
    here a glimpse, there a glory.
    To enjoy thee is life eternal,
    and to enjoy is to know.
    Keep me in the freedom of experiencing thy salvation continually.”

    I believe what we know, here on earth, are just but mere small facts that have yet to be pieced together to form the whole truth, of which only God is capable of knowing. and yet, God lets us enjoy his glory and perfection here on earth – how beautiful.

    I pray that I’ll be able to constantly experience God, thy salvation continually. It will definitely be a loss to only experience God once in my life – hence, I’ll be yearning for God’s presence to be with me all the time, every single time. Continually. (:

    Thank you for sharing the poem! (:

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