I have been thinking about the upcoming presidential primary on Tuesday in New York, where people in my home state will be making a very important decision. On January 12, 1723, on the banks of the Hudson River in New York City, 19-yr. old Jonathan Edwards also made a choice. He was serving an 8 mo. pastorate, fresh out of seminary, and he made this decision:
I [have] made a solemn dedication of myself to God…giving up myself , and all that I had, to God; to be for the future in no respect my own; to act as one that had no right to himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed to take God for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else as any part of my happiness, nor acting as it were; and his law as the constant rule of my obedience; engaging to fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life.
What a powerful dedication of a young life; something that should be emulated by all of us- no matter how young or old . However, as inspiring as Edwards’ dedication can be, I believe it is made richer when read in the context of the first answer to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563):
Q 1. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A 1. That I am not my own, but belong- body and soul, in life and in death- to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
The confession in the catechism places any earnest dedication within the context of God’s gospel-work in our lives and not in the strength of our will nor the merit of our holy effort. I can work out my salvation with fear and trembling because God is working within me both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12)
Just a thought…