Has your faith been tested by the realities of life?
Week 14 – Celebrating 100 Years of Oswald Chambers
VERSE: “Indeed the hour is coming…that you will be scattered…” John 16:32
OSWALD: After we have the perfect relationship with God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life. We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? (My Utmost for His Highest, April 4th – Updated)
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TODAY’S GUEST: I’m excited to have my friend, Jill Hart sharing her “My Utmost” insights today. Jill is an author and licensed therapist, but most of all, she’s a woman with a heart after God. I know you’ll enjoy her inspiring words!
How It Spoke to Jill…
Have you ever asked God to deepen your faith? To allow whatever He must in your life in order to take you to a deeper level of knowing Him?
In today’s reading, Oswald Chambers clarifies that the opening verse was not meant as a rebuke. When He prophesied in John 16:32 that the disciples would be scattered, Jesus wasn’t questioning their faith.
“Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life,” Oswald writes. The same thing happens to us.
Though our relationship with God may be full and satisfying, our faith must go through testing. As a result, there comes a time, Oswald says, when “we will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness.” For that is the only way we come “to know what internal death to God’s blessings means.”
I relate to today’s reading in a way I couldn’t have before.
However, several years ago, I found myself dissatisfied with where I was spiritually. I was doing everything that I thought I should be – reading my Bible, attending church, leading and attending Bible studies, even writing, speaking, and coaching women around the world. According to what I knew of a “faith life” I felt like I was at the pinnacle.
However, I had this nagging feeling that I was missing something; that my faith life looked great on paper, but that there was a deeper faith that I hadn’t yet experienced … and didn’t know how to get myself to.
“Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings.” – Oswald Chambers
I began praying that God would reveal Himself to me. That I would see Him for all He truly is, not just the caricature I had developed in my head or the version I’d learned at church.
The God I read about in Scriptures wasn’t afraid of the grit and mess of life. However, the God in my head warned me to be very careful so as to never make a mistake or rock the boat. I begged the Lord to show me who He truly is and what my faith would look like outside of the “feelings and blessings.”
Oh boy, did He answer.
Because He is the gentle, ever-patient God that He is, He opened my eyes slowly. I began to see the world in a way I hadn’t been able to before. Stepping back from what I thought I knew so He could show me something new.
I started graduate school to pursue my long-term dream of becoming a counselor. I had visions of sitting in a pretty office, listening to people share their stories, both of us leaving with warm fuzzies of hope and healing.
Instead, after finishing school, I started working for a faith-based mental health organization that serves the homeless, poor, and undeserved in our community. Everyday, my faith is brutally challenged as I hear stories of deep trauma and horrendous pain.
And yet, God’s light shines through…
In the man who, despite all odds to the contrary, is training to become a pastor. He asks to pray over me at the end of every session.
In the woman who clings to the hope that life can and will be better, even though she can’t see the “how” yet.
Each day I’m given multiple opportunities to get discouraged; to throw my hands up in fury at a world that is broken and full of hurting people. Every day gives a glimpse of the emptiness of my own life, as well as those around me.
But it’s also an opportunity to watch God work. To see His hand guiding, orchestrating, and calling people to Himself.
“No matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience,” Oswald reminds us, “we can praise God that all is well.”
Because of that, I find myself choosing love in ways I wouldn’t have dreamed of in years past. I choose faith. I choose joy in the midst of the emptiness. I see God in the mess and muck and mire of life.
And the God I see is stunning and radiant and bold.
Because of Him, and Him alone, I can say, “All is well.”
Jill Hart founded Christian Work at Home Ministries (CWAHM) in 2000 to assist other Christians who desire to work from home. She is the author of the devotional book, Do Life Different, co-author of So You Want to Be a Work-at-Home Mom, and contributed to eight other publications.
Jill holds a degree in Professional Counseling and serves as a substance use and mental health therapist in the Omaha area. She has articles published in In Touch Magazine, P31 Woman magazine, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family, as well as across the web on sites like DrLaura.com.
Learn more about Jill at www.jillhart.com.
Disclosure: I make a small commission for purchases made through any affiliate links used in this post.
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Read WEEK 15 – “Cultivating an Inner Unconquerableness” >>
I’d love to hear from you… How has God grown your faith beyond “feelings and blessings”?