All My Life Is Portioned Out for Me

Bob RoaneHymn Stories, Jesus Christ, Loving and Trusting God, Prison Ministry, Providence, Wise living

My times are in Your hand….I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. (Psalm 31:15; Philippians 4:11)

Anna Waring

Anna L. Waring (1823-1910) was a Welsh poet and hymn-writer. In her writings, she expressed deep love for and trust in Christ People praised Anna’s inner, unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.1 She came to saving faith in Jesus in 1842 and never married or had children. Waring came from a family of writers and began penning hymns in her teens. In order to better understand Old Testament poetry, Anna mastered biblical Hebrew as a young woman and studied daily in the Hebrew Book of Psalms all her life.

My favorite of Waring’s hymns is “Father, I Know That All My Life Is Portioned Out For Me” (see below). Her hymns hint that she experienced pains and problems like many of us. The Apostle Paul writes, “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.2 Waring may have struggled with anxiety, because she writes of fears, storms, dark clouds, and missing the Lord’s green pastures. But her trust in God was strengthened by focusing on her eternal blessings as Jesus’ follower. Like King David, Anna strengthened and encouraged herself in the LORD her God.3 This was how she pressed on serving Christ for the next 60 years. All believers have the same Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.4 May God help us imitate Anna Waring’s faith in Jesus.

Song of Songs says that little foxes can sneak in and eat grapes in vineyards. And little worries and fears can pile up and rob our joy in Jesus. Dr. Karl A. Menninger (1893-1990) was an American psychiatrist. He was once asked what action he would recommend if a person felt an emotional breakdown coming on. Menninger advised, “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, and find someone in need and do something for them.”

Waring also chased away discouragement and cultivated “self forgetfulness” by doing volunteer work for the Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society. Christians do prison ministry because we believe that no person is beyond the reach of Christ’s saving power. Our Lord is the God of second, third, and millionth chances. We work to help offenders, ex-offenders, and their families be redeemed, restored, and reconciled through Jesus’ amazing grace. We help men and women become new creatures in Christ, not repeat offenders. Waring did the same years ago and reminds us that Christ designed us to experience joy and peace as we serve Him and others who are less blessed than we are. God calls all Christians to lose ourselves, then find ourselves, in giving to others for Jesus’ sake.5

Anna’s Hymn

1. Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me;
The changes that are sure to come, I do not fear to see:
I ask thee for a present mind, Intent on pleasing thee.

2. I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do, or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child, and guided where I go.

3. I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied,
A mind to blend with outward life, while keeping at thy side,
Content to fill a little space, if thou be glorified.

4. In service which thy will appoints there are no bonds for me;
My secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy children free;
A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty.

Our Faith is Fortified

My trust in the Savior is strengthened when I sing Anna Waring’s hymns and remember her example. She reminds me not to dwell on past regrets and present problems, but to rejoice now in our guaranteed future glory when Jesus returns. Peter writes:

In keeping with Christ’s promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. 6

Prayer: Lord, help us not to waste time wondering why you ordain and allow bad things to happen to us. Let your promise of Heaven help us to put our suffering in perspective. Help us not to be discouraged or give up. Renew us day by day. Help us trust that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Help us to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but our unseen blessings with you are eternal. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.7

Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!

Notes: 1 see 1 Peter 3:14 .    2 Philippians 1:29.     3 see 1 Samuel 30:16.     4 Isaiah 9:6.     5 see Matt 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:35.     6 2 Peter 3:13.     7 prayer alludes to 2 Cor 4:16-17. See also Tim Keller’s The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy.