I’ve been reading Oswald Chambers. My curiosity got the best of me after his quote nailed me to the wall last spring with the sudden realization that the things I had experienced were not for me but for me to be able to minister to others because my experiences helped me to identify with them.
Life has been a little frazzled around the edges with so much activity at home and I’ve not been able to think about writing much. Today, after some retirement, reflection and reading I’m beginning to see through the glass a little less darkly. Like my last letter, I have to share this with you because I’m learning to get to the roots of who I am in Him.
Back to OC, in reading his writings I find I love that what he has written is meat; that I must chew on it a bit, and swallow it down to “get” the meat in those sentences. So I’m reading along in his “My Utmost for His Highest” and I suddenly realized that I had read the exact same page two days before and had noted down almost exactly the same key points.
Note to self: When this happens repeatedly you are either having a senior moment or God is specifically teaching you something that He does NOT want you to forget!
I’m quoting from his book, the July 11 entry, if you want to read it all for yourself. Emphasis mine, those things jumped off the page at me!
“Self-realization leads to the enthronement of work; whereas the saint enthrones Jesus Christ in his work… Watever it is, we have to take the initiative of realizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus… Do I know Him where I am today? If not, I am failing Him, I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus.”
So that’s what I got the first day I read through it. I really wasn’t grasping it at all and had to chew on it some more, so the Lord gave me amnesia and I read it again this morning and received a whole other meal!
“The spiritual saint never believes circumstances to be haphazard or thinks of his life as secular and sacred; he sees everything he is dumped down in as the means of securing the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
There is a reckless abandonment about him.
The Holy Spirit is determined that we shall realize Jesus Christ in every domain of life, and He will bring us back to the same point again and again until we do.Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus.”
And the last phrase of that day: the spiritual saint’s aim is to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in. (semi-quote)
I think, because of the times we live in, we are directed and driven toward self-realization externally by all sorts of means. Media, technology, advertisement, theater, and literature all point us to find out “who we are.” In the 70s, we used the excuse of “I’m going off to find myself” to explain why we weren’t about anybody’s business let alone ours or God’s business. And, when maturity finally settled in around us, the self-realized thought it was all about work. Work to get ahead, to be successful, to have a better life than our parents, to give a large amount to the building program for church, or to provide for our kids what we missed out on as a child. “You work only 60 hours a week? Hrumph, the minimum I work is 80 hours and then some!” Work, Work, Work, that’s what’s important, it’s who I am.
Yet, here I am staring at this quote and we’re still missing the point a hundred years out from the writing of it. We have replaced Jesus with work on the throne of our hearts instead of Jesus being in and being the focus of our work. Christians have not been exempt from this concept. Work for the Kingdom. “What are you doing, where’s your ministry?” Even in ministry we can place the emphasis on the ministry not on Jesus. I had to stop here and think about my adult life. Have I taken Jesus with me into every part of my life? I mean, intentionally, actually deliberately held up my circumstances to the filter of Jesus? Always? Really?
Whatever happened to “being” a Christian? Knowing Jesus? Knowing His purpose must be lived out in my life? Knowing it’s all about Him, not about how He is going to provide me with the life I want? Just knowing Jesus?
Blissfully unaware that God was going to again approach me on this, I re-read the same day in the book two days later and got an additional dose of understanding:
· That, as believers, we know that circumstances in our lives don’t just happen; there’s meaning in everything.
· That we don’t separate our lives into compartments of sacred and secular; we live one life as a Christian, all of it.
· That, when we believe, it is with our whole being, all of ourselves being poured into Him just to know Him.
· That we do come to Him as a little child, and with reckless abandon we tell everyone we know that we know Him.
I love that the Holy Spirit does not leave us alone in this, that He brings us back again and again until we get it- He is in it with us for the long haul. He lives it with us; every joy, every heartache, every triumph and every disaster. And He keeps directing us back to Jesus to get us to realize Jesus in every circumstance. Obviously, I needed more than one prompting in this direction!
This point was aimed straight at me- when I saw the word “domain” my head started spinning with technology again! He did say in every domain. However, this time I am beginning to grasp IT:
I am not here to realize myself, but to know Jesus.
P.S. Do you know Him where you are today? Tell me about it.
You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:35
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I Corinthians 2:2
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Philippians 3:7-9
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. II Timothy 1: 9-12