Week 29 – Celebrating 100 Years of Oswald Chambers
SCRIPTURE: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3)
OSWALD: “Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain….I must know Jesus Christ as my Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of a lofty ideal which only leads to despair. But when I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach – He came to make me what He teaches I should be.” (My Utmost for His Highest – July 21st)
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How It Spoke to Me…
Have you ever tried to be holy on your own?
For much of my young adult life, I lived only part of the Good News. Attempting to meet the standards of Scripture, I mistakenly believed I had to do it by myself.
I missed the part Oswald highlights: “Jesus Christ did not come only to teach – He came to make me what He teaches I should be.”
Self-induced holiness only leads to frustration and despair. Though our place in heaven is secure, we will never be victorious Christians until we discover that the same grace that saves us is the same grace that changes us.
I write about my journey in my book, Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us From the Inside Out.
While I was raised in a grace-filled home and a grace-filled church, as a young adult, I somehow fell for the lie that when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, the rest was up to me.
As though, after an initial warm hug of welcome, God had tossed me into the sea of life, stepped back, and crossed His arms as if to say “It’s up to you now, sweetheart—sink or swim.”
So swim I did. I swam like crazy—pouring myself into all kinds of good works. I led music. I taught Sunday school. I worked hard to be “all things to all men”—and women, boys, girls, infants, toddlers, senior citizens, teens, college and career, young marrieds. Well, you get the picture. I was a pastor’s wife, for goodness’ sake!
But no matter how fast I paddled, no matter how hard I tried to keep my head above water, my efforts were never enough. I could feel myself going down. One night I finally reached the breaking point. Sobbing, I clung to my husband. But nothing he said could comfort me, and I was at a loss to explain what was wrong except…
“Tell me the good news,” I begged him between sobs. “I honestly can’t remember. Tell me the good news.”
…The only thing my inner Pharisee had given me was deep despair and hopeless frustration. But coming to the end of myself also turned me toward freedom—because it pushed me to confront my own faulty theology.
It was the same turning point Brother Lawrence came to more than three hundred years ago. Desperate to serve God with his whole heart, he joined a monastery. But as hard as the poor monk tried to be holy and without sin, he constantly failed.
Finally, as he describes in his timeless book The Practice of the Presence of God, he began to converse openly and honestly with the Lord. Looking to Christ rather than to his own character for strength, Brother Lawrence flung himself entirely upon God’s mercy and grace.
When faced with an opportunity to practice a virtue, he prayed, “Lord, I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me.”
And when he failed, he was quick to acknowledge, “I shall never do otherwise if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amiss.”
After doing that, his biographer writes, Brother Lawrence “gave himself no further uneasiness about it.”6
Do those words minister to you as they do to me? To think we can have such an intimate relationship with the Almighty that we no longer have to whitewash our faults or deny our need of Him—well, that blesses me. After all, a true relationship must be based on honesty. The only way we will ever experience lasting change is to be willing to stand naked and needy before our heavenly Father. Honest and bold in our requests. Yearning for His transforming touch, yet secure in His steadfast love.
We can do that because we have a Savior who understands that we are caught in a human body of contradictions. Wanting God one minute and chasing the world the next. Desiring holiness, yet settling for compromise. Hungering for the divine, yet willing to trade it for a bowl of stale porridge and a nap in the shade.
But here’s the best news of all: Jesus not only understands our weaknesses, He has the power and the know-how to help us change.
All we have to do is come. Open our hearts for His inspection, then welcome His Holy Spirit’s work to help us change.
That’s the Good News of the Gospel – transformed into His likeness. Right here and right now.
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I’d love to hear from you…What area do you need Jesus’ transforming touch today?