Adapted from The Person Reborn by Paul Tournier, 1966, pages 201-201.
The value of a human life does not lie in the “rights of man,” a fundamental concept of modem individualism. Rather, our rights come from God, who has given us our lives, and to whom we are accountable.
The concept of the “rights of man” presupposes that man is totally free and independent, and that he has value in his own right and not by virtue of the spirit he receives from God. It looks upon him as being capable of making a success of life by his own unaided efforts, of organizing society armed only with his intelligence and his technological skill. We can see where that has led him.
We are like a child who has been given a beautiful mechanical toy as a Christmas present. His father says to him: “Come along, and I’ll show you how to make it go.” The child replies: “No, I want to do it myself!” He tries, gets angry and sulky, takes it apart, breaks it, and finally admits his incompetence. Defeated, he hands the pieces to his father and says: “There, you make it work.”
We too, have received a beautiful and very complicated toy: life. We try to make it work on our own. We might even think we are having some success. But then things begin to go wrong, and we run into personal or social disasters. The more we struggle to put things right with our own strength, the worse the situation becomes; until at last we come back to God, and offering our lives to him, say: “Take over; I can’t manage it on my own.”
I am always struck by the simplicity of this inner movement back to God. From then on a person can have a new attitude. He has realized that only the Author of life can coordinate all the complicated mechanisms that go to make up life.
We do not have to disown the intellectual, scientific, or technological side of things. We simply decide that now we will ask God how to use them. We surrender ourselves. We hand over our lives, our abilities, and all our possessions to God, not knowing what He will do with them.
We can then live each moment as it comes, step by step, eagerly seeking to know what God expects of us. I have stressed the difficulty of knowing what God’s guidance is. I must now assert that despite all the difficulties and all our inevitable mistakes, God’s guidance is still more precious and more fruitful than anything else.
Proverbs 19:3 — A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.
Ezekiel 18:25 — (The Lord says to his people), “You say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?”
Proverbs 28:25 — Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
LORD, TAKE MY HAND AND LEAD ME
by Julie von Hausmann (1825-1901)
Lord, take my hand and lead me
Upon life’s way;
Direct, protect and feed me
From day to day.
Without your grace and favor
I go astray;
So take my hand, O Savior,
And lead the way.
Lord, when the tempest rages,
I need not fear;
For you, the Rock of Ages,
Are always near.
Close by your side abiding,
I fear no foe,
For when your hand is guiding,
In peace I go.
Lord, when the shadows lengthen
And night has come,
I know that you will strengthen
My steps toward home,
And nothing can impede me,
O blessed Friend!
So take my hand and lead me
Unto the end.