Back at Christmas, there was an amusing moment when I unwrapped the brown paper parcels that my mum had sent to London with my aunt. First, I opened one with bright pink underwear (very appropriate to my needs); then, I opened a book of Puritan prayers and devotions, The Valley of Visions. The two items side by side caused some hilarity. Both have proven useful.
Here in Ashu, on a short retreat in a snowbound village, I've been captivated by some of the prayers, including this one: complete and perfect.
'God the All'
O God whose will conquers all,
There is no comfort in anything
apart from enjoying thee
and being engaged in thy service;
Thou art all in all, and all enjoyments are what to me
thou makest them, and no more.
I am well pleased with thy will, whatever it is,
or should be in all respects,
And if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair,
I would choose to refer all to thee,
for thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss
as I am in danger of doing.
I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal,
and it delights me to leave them there.
Then prayer turns wholly into praise,
and all I can do is adore and bless thee.
What shall I give thee for all thy benefits?
I am in a strait betwixt two, knowing not what to do;
I long to make some return, but have nothing to offer,
and can only rejoice that thou doest all,
that none on heaven or on earth shares thy honour;
I can of myself do nothing to glorify thy blessed name,
but I can through grace cheerfully surrender soul and body to thee,
I know that thou art the author and finisher of faith,
that the whole work of redemption is thine alone,
that every good work or thought found in me
is the effect of thy power and grace,
that thy sole motive in working in me is to will and to do
is for thy good pleasure.
O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much
about man's creaturely power and goodness,
when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment,
we should be devils incarnate.
This, by bitter experience, thou hast taught me concerning myself.