“I wanted to wear out my life”: A New Year’s Resolution from David Brainerd

What follows was not a New Year’s resolution as we would commonly think of such a resolve.  It was not made on January 1, intended to be kept throughout that year.  It was made on a Tuesday, April 20 – David Brainerd’s 24th birthday, as he lamented that he had not met his resolve for the previous year.  Historically, the Lord was pleased in His grace to help the young man as he would become a pioneer missionary to the Native Americans, dying only 5 years later of tuberculosis.  John Piper wrote of him, “Instead of a quiet six years in the pastorate or lecture hall followed by death and little historical impact for Christ’s kingdom, God meant to drive him into the wilderness that he might suffer for His sake and have an incalculable influence on the history of missions” (John Piper, The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd, p. 129).  This is then the resolve of the young man Brainerd (1718-1747) upon his 24th birthday, to be lived out the following year.  We would do well to be of the same mind ~

This day I am twenty-four years of age.  Oh, how much mercy have I received the year past!  How often has ‘God caused His goodness to pass before me’ (Exod. 33:19)!  And how poorly have I answered the vows I made this time twelve-month [a year ago], to be wholly the Lord’s, to be forever devoted to this service!  The Lord help me to live more to His glory for time to come.  This has been a sweet, a happy day to me: Blessed be God.  I think my soul was never so drawn out in intercession for others as it has been this night. … I hardly ever so longed to ‘live to God’ (Rom. 14:8), and to be altogether devoted to Him; I wanted to wear out my life in His service and for His glory.

From Vance Christie’s biography: David Brainerd: A Flame for God, p. 44.


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