August 19, 2010

oswald chambers & "devotion to God Himself"

Last Christmas I received a copy of Oswald Chambers' classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. For years I neglected many devotional writings, perhaps due to a bad taste left in my mouth after trite, too-simple or poorly-written devotionals I'd come across growing up. But what depth I have found in the collections of the writings of saints like A.W. Tozer and now Oswald Chambers! These anthologies indeed are worthy to bear the name "Christian literature." My experience in the last few months of reading Chambers has been transformational, and the book's introduction, by Richard C. Halverson, sums up why.
He says:
"In Chambers I am constantly being reminded that the ground of faith and experience is the person of Jesus Christ....the basis of faith is always Jesus Christ himself. Through the years Chambers has kept me on course by bringing me back to Jesus. Believing Jesus, not just believing my beliefs about Jesus, is basic."

I have collected some brief quotations from the daily readings which echo this basic theme that runs through Chambers' texts. It is about Jesus Himself--believing Him, being devoted to Him. 
  • "When we become advocates of a creed, something dies; we do not believe God, we only believe our belief about Him.... 'Believe also in Me,' said Jesus, not--'Believe certain things about Me.'" (Apr 29)
  • "A man with the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue; he is devoted to God Himself." (May 2)
  • "My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, my God." (July 12)
  • "The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus." (Aug 16)
  • "Are you more devoted to your idea of what Jesus wants than to Himself?" (Aug 18)
Chambers says the same thing in so many ways. The message never gets old or passé. I am encouraged to seek a fresh, vibrant relationship with Jesus. To truly know Him, not just know things about Him. Through the story of Jesus walking on the water, I am reminded that it is enough "that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea" (July 28). As I realize how destitute I am without Christ, He is speaking to me in a way that is deeper and richer. My demands of Him are silenced in the presence of His Person. My God-given desires and goals play second fiddle to God Himself. I need devotion to Christ, pure and simple (2 Cor. 11:3).

Have you read this classic yet? My Utmost for His Highest--always best read with granola, yogurt and sunshine. Original English version available here or modern English version available here.