“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, February 23, 2009

Soli Deo Gloria Part 2 - Conclusion

In my last post, I ended by saying that we should never forget the men and women who lived and died to the glory of God.

I would like to tell you of one – Captain Allen Francis Gardiner.

Capt. Gardiner was a very devout Christian man, and naval officer in the British Navy in the 19th century. Captain Gardiner left England to do missions work amongst the Patagonian peoples in September 1850; it took about four months for the small band to arrive in Patagonia, which is on the southernmost tip of South America. Immediately they had problems, losing several of their small vessels and most of their provision of gunpowder, which was their only way to procure food for themselves.

The mission work was difficult as well, for the natives were hostile to much of the work that Gardiner and his band were attempting. To make a long story short – eventually the British Admiralty sent a ship to check on the seven. They had all died of illness and starvation. But, I want to share with you what the Navy found when they came upon the camp in which Gardiner had finally perished.

Here is an entry from Gardiner’s diary dated September 3rd, 1851 -- "Mr Maidment was so exhausted yesterday that he did not rise from his bed till noon, and I have not seen him since; consequently I tasted nothing yesterday. I cannot leave the place where I am, and know not whether he is in the body, or enjoying the presence of the gracious God whom he has served so faithfully. I am writing this at ten o'clock in the forenoon. Blessed be my heavenly Father for the many mercies I enjoy--a comfortable bed, no pain, or even cravings of hunger; though excessively weak, scarcely able to turn in my bed, at least, it is a very great exertion; but I am, by His abounding grace, kept in perfect peace, refreshed with a sense of my Saviour's love, and an assurance that all is wisely and mercifully appointed, and pray that I may receive the full blessing which it is doubtless designed to bestow. My care is all cast upon God, and I am only waiting His time and His good pleasure to dispose of me as He shall see fit. Whether I live or die, may it be in Him; I commend my body and my soul to His care and keeping, and earnestly pray that He will take my dear wife and children under the shadow of His wings, comfort, guard, strengthen, and sanctify them wholly, that we may together, in a brighter and eternal world, praise and adore His goodness and grace in redeeming us with His precious blood, and plucking us as brands from the burning, to bestow upon us the adoption of children, and make us inheritors of His heavenly kingdom. Amen.

A day or two before his death, Gardiner made a final entry into his diary -- "Should anything prevent my ever adding to this, let all my beloved ones at home rest assured that I was happy beyond all expression the night I wrote these lines, and would not have changed situations with any man living. Let them also be assured that my hopes were full and blooming with immortality; that heaven and love and Christ, which mean one and the same divine thing, were in my heart; that the hope of glory, the hope laid up for me in heaven, filled my whole heart with joy and gladness, and that to me to live is Christ, to die is gain. I am in a strait betwixt two, to abide in the body, or to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Let them know that I loved them, and prayed for every one of them. .God bless them all.”

Capt. Gardiner lived AND died to the glory of God. You hear no whimpering or self-pity in this man, only a laser-focused perspective on the providential will of God, and serving that God to His [God's] glory. I wish I were that dedicated to God's glory. Sadly, I fear, I am far too self-absorbed much of the time. May we all pray that God transform us all into a people consumed with His glory!

How do we live in a manner that reflects Soli Deo Gloria? To glorify God, you must first acknowledge Him! That is the first aspect of soli deo gloria. All too often, our only thoughts of God take place at church for 60 minutes on a Sunday morning, and even then, He is competing with thoughts of football, social activities, or any number of other things. God must occupy our thoughts at all times – as Reverend Geoff Thomas of Alfred Place Church says – “The idea of God must be the greatest idea you ever had. It must swallow up and dominate all other ideas.”

Then, when we have acknowledged God, we must recognize that He is the giver of all things; everything that we have, is given to us from God – our talent, our looks, our abilities, these all come from God. When we recognize that fact we are much better at glorifying Him in all that we do. Phil Keaggy may be a great guitarist, but it is God who gave Phil that talent – yes, he worked at it by practicing, but I could practice as long and hard as him, and I would never be the guitarist that he is. God gifts us with our abilities – why is it that you have the intelligence that you have? Is there something you did to CREATE it? You may have studied and nurtured the ability, but God is the first cause!

Finally, we must grasp that God is not only the first cause, but the end of all things. All things begin and end in God – when we recognize this fact, we are able to put everything else in perspective. At the end of the day – God is all in all, when this election year, this century, this country, this earth is but a memory, there will still be God. Knowing that enables us to put everything else in its place. How could Captain Gardiner write in such a manner only days before his death? He was not bemoaning the futility of his life and death, no he was living coram deo – before the face of God, fully cognizant that God is glorious!

We so often are like Martha – anxious and troubled about many things – so busy with the ‘doing’ of life that we forget the ‘why’ of life – we are to live to the glory of God in such a way that the world will notice! Again, let us remember Paul’s command in 1st Corinthians 10:31 -- So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Let me close this post with the words to the Hymn, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise [Walter Chalmers Smith, 1867]:

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.

Thou reignest in glory; thou dwellest in light;
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all laud we would render: O help us to see
'tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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