Monday Devotion: John Milton on Submission


John Milton (1609 – 1674)

Background and Context

John Milton is a famous English writer of the seventh century. He is also considered one of the great writers of the English language. He is very gifted and studious man who delights in studies till midnight. Being born into Christian family, Milton had passion to write for Christianity. He wanted to serve God through his poems because he wanted to become an epic poet. He stated that he was an outcome of his father’s intense desire to see him as a man of literature.

Because of his highly edification and gift of oration, Milton was appointed secretary in the government of Oliver Campwell in 1649. But Milton also could not stay away from political and religious controversies at his time because of his controversial writings on the contemporary political situation and divorce.

Milton wrote two great epics, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained as well as a moving dram, Samson Agonistes after he lost his sight at the age of forty-three. Richard Foster presents two short poems of Milton In My Great Task-Master’s Eye and On His Blindness in the Spiritual Classic respectively. These poems talk about the crisis of faith, and the abundant grace of God to trust his will simultaneously.

 Major Themes

            The main theme of these two short poems is submission to God’s will. Milton wrote his first poem at the age of twenty-three. In this poem, he feels that he wasted his many years without achieving anything in his life. He complains against the dynamic time of God. Milton reflects back to his youth and murmurs how the time passed away without any delay but he had not accomplished anything. The writer seems very concerned for his future. He stresses that he is nearly turn to adulthood, yet he feels immature. Milton has introduced his each idea very effectively that every word gives the impression to the readers. The piece of writing clearly presents the picture of hollow life. Milton feels empty inside and sees the clouds of uncertainty around him.

Right after his uncertainty, Milton discovers what he really needs in faith-crisis situation. He learns to submit his life, future, and concerns to God. Milton further states not his will, but the will of heaven be fulfilled in his life. He learns that what God has ensured for us by his will, not our will, will be the final result in our life.

In this second poem, Milton mourns for his blindness. He fears that his great talents are going to be useless since his eyes are blind now. He wants to serve God writing an epic, but he is left now in the dark state of the sight. Milton murmurs again because his talent, knowledge, and passion to serve God become ineffective. He, as in his youth, is convicted again that God does not need work or gift of man’s hand. God wants submission from us. Finally, Milton submits himself to God for his will to be done. Forster puts more emphasis, “Milton submits to God’s will for him, aligning himself with the submission of the angels to the will of God (171)”.

Application

The study on John Milton is very relevant and contextual to me. There is not any space that I found where I can speak against Milton. Before I considered the call of God in my life, I also felt inconclusive for future. I wanted to use my every skill and talent to serve God. I wanted to serve God in every way. I desired to be busy serving God. But I did never think that busyness keeps us far away from the fellowship with God.

Another anxiety was concerning about my age. I used to think that I am also now going to turn an adult, but I have not learned anything. I found myself immature, timid, and weak toward responsibilities. I also felt my life is useless and meaningless. My wills were my first priority than any others. Therefore, I found all anticipations of Milton were mirror for me. In all essence, God put his mild yoke on me so I might learn from him. I submitted myself in God’s will for reshaping of my life. The spiritual discipline of submission molded me.

The discipline of submission is misinterpreted for one’s benefit in the postmodern world. People do not want to submit to their elders and authority. Our contemporary church also practices unhealthy disciplines of submission. People especially this generation feel hard to submit to each other. The biblical meaning of submission from original text is distorted. Between husband and wife in the family also feel uncomfortable to be submissive because the submission is blended as bondage or being slave. This kind of attitude surely creates pride and wickedness in the family and church. Therefore, the contemporary preachers, church, and Christian institution should teach the believers about the discipline of submission. They should challenge the believers, students, and leaders to epitomize the life of Jesus by living by speech and deed.

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