Monday, April 11, 2011

Waiting to Call it a Fiasco

Window of John and Charles Wesley at Christ Chruch
In 1736, when James Edward Oglethorpe sailed again to Georgia, a colony he’d founded four years earlier, he brought along two brothers, John and Charles Wesley. Both ordained priests in the Church of England, John would minister in Savannah, and Charles would serve as Secretary for Indian Affairs and Chaplain in Frederica, a new settlement on St. Simons Isalnd.

It did not work out for Charles. He only stayed five months and then returned to England. John didn’t fare much better, for his preaching was not well received, so in only two years, he boarded a ship along with a few Moravians, to retreat across the Atlantic.

Both of the Wesley’s largely viewed their time in Georgia a failure.

And of the new settlement in Frederica? By 1758, most of the inhabitants had tired of overwhelming difficulties and moved on. A fire consumed much of what was left.

But the crossing to England turned out to be an eventful one for John. His Moravian traveling companions, deeply impressed him with their peace during a mighty storm.

Back in England, a few months later on May 24, 1738, he wrote, “In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate-Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

The tide turned. John Wesley and his "strangely warmed" heart would be used by God to change the course of history in winning untold numbers to the Lord and to start a movement which would circle the globe.

Charles would go on to pen thousands of hymns, many of which we still sing today.

I lately stood in Christ Church, Frederica and was impressed with the chruch's ministry, devotion to Christ and to the gospel. According to their website, “Worship has been continuous since 1736 in Christ Church Parish, established by English colonists at Frederica under General James Oglethorpe.”

Apparently, everyone didn’t pack up and leave the settlement on St. Simons. Let me do a little calculation here. Since Charles Wesley (along with John who sometimes joined him in preaching on the island) gathered a few people together at Frederica for the first services, worshippers have been gathering for 275 years. I checked my math. That’s right. 275 years.

When we take a long look back, we see that the perceived failures in Georgia were only temporary ones.

Good to remember, no, essential to remember.

I am often too quick to render a verdict on a situation, when God isn’t finished in other’s lives, or in my own life.

So, here I am, rethinking my perspective on a particular circumstance and asking God to give me His. I'm asking Him to help me delay my analysis and leave that up to Him. I'm allowing Him to have the last word. It's not over until He says it is.

I think the Wesley brothers would be pleased. But more importantly, I sense God's pleasure.

From I Corinthians 1:9 in The Message: “God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.”

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me… (Psalm 138:8)

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