Oswald Chambers has a keen way of convicting me. You would think this would deter my morning reading of his devotional "My Utmost for His Highest" but it has done just the opposite. Instead of shying away from the spotlight on my failings, his blunt look at scripture and unapologetic stating of the truth has left me craving more. Each morning I bound out of bed, ready to soak in whatever it is God has to reveal to me in his Word.
Even though I love the short and to the point devotionals that doesn't always make it comfortable to read them. They hit me between the eyes. In less then a page, Ossy (as I affectionately refer to him), is able to get to the heart of the most daunting Biblical principles. He focuses in on the dark recesses of our hearts and behaviors. He isn't simply concerned with how we appear to the outside world; he is much more interested in obedience, our thought life and childlike faith.
When my heart is housing a less than God honoring emotion I see the flaw in my ways with every word of the devotional. Each sentence chips away at my lame excuses for continuing in human error. The devotional always starts with a scripture that is brief and, at first glance, unassuming. But after reading through the devotional once I open up the scripture's chapter and read it in its entirety. That is when it all hits home. Ossy pulls a simple part of a complex chapter and gets right to the heart of the matter. Scripture can be overwhelming but he reveals a message from God that feels like it was written specially for me.
Some lessons are tough to grasp and truly embrace. Maybe I'm a slow learner or maybe it is part of being a stubborn human being that makes me reluctant to change. Even when I know a change needs to occur, I take my good old time taking the step in faith to release my wrong doing. When I open my Bible in the morning I am once again reminded that there is something in my heart that God wants to remove. Every morning it is as if he is asking, "Are you reading to give it up to me now?"
This morning it was a conviction that has been resting on my heart for days. It centers around one scripture, although I haven't read this particular passage in months God has been pulling it into my minds eye and playing it on repeat: John 12:27.
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour."
Jesus didn't ask God to deliver him out of his toughest time in life - and lets face it, what could be harder then facing a slow, painful death on a cross while people below chanted, mocked and harassed? I can't think of anything worse. Yet, he didn't beg God to take him away in a cloud or send someone else to take his place. He accepted that this was God's will.
What Jesus says next is really stunning. He says, "Father, glorify your name!"
He doesn't complain, whine or get downright angry. Instead, he turns to the ultimate purpose in life: to glorify God in everything!
My trial has been nothing compared to the horror Jesus Christ faced and still there are far too many moments when I neglect to give God glory. I fall into the trap of asking God to remove me from my struggle and change my circumstances. But that isn't what God wants me to be asking. When I'm asking God to change my path I'm showing that I don't fully trust in his will and plan for my life. Instead of trusting in his time line, I let my faith falter.
John 12:27-28 have been piercing my heart and chiseling away at my defenses. This short little scripture has been calling me to obedience and a new way of praying. I should be asking God for more faith and wisdom, not an escape route from my problems. In the midst of the storm I can ask God to uphold and sustain me with his mighty hand.
This is transforming my prayer life. I don't need rescued. I need stretched, challenged and grown. If God sweeps in like Superman and takes away all the problems of life I will never be molded and matured into the woman of faith he desires me to be. The trials are his tools and they are put into use for my benefit.
That sounds to me like cause for gratitude and thanksgiving!