Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baffled to Fight Better


Many in the Church have enjoyed the classic devotional "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. But have they heard of the topical teaching texts from which the entries of the daily devotional were gleaned? All of such written material is available thanks to the widow of Chambers, Gertrude, who sorted through short-hand notes taken from teaching sessions and sermon outlines. It was a lasting tribute to a dear husband who had contracted a fatal illness at age forty-three while serving among the troops in Egypt in 1917.

Two particular favourites of mine were "The Psychology of Redemption" and "Baffled to Fight Better". The former compared the stages in the development of the faith life of a believer to those in the life of the Lord. The latter was a teaching on the Book of Job.

I remember well the impact which "Baffled" had upon me. It was a time of personal crisis back in Chatham referred to in some of the "Milestone" posts in this blog. It was a calm, overcast winter day in March and I had gone off to a quiet spot in the country to pray and to get some direction in my dilemma. Almost a sense of morbidity had caused me to take a copy of Chambers' book on one of the greatest sufferers in all of recorded history, the patriarch Job.

But that day I persevered through the entire volume , and heard words of encouragement from God, parked at a quiet spot by the icy Thames River.

At one point Chambers said the following:

"The human problem is too big for a man to solve, but if he will fling himself unperplexed on God he will find Him to be the kind of Refuge Job is referring to. We know nothing about the Redemption or about forgiveness until we are enmeshed by the personal problem; then we begin to understand why we need to turn to God, and when we do turn to Him He becomes a Refuge and a Shelter and a complete Rest. Up to the present Job has had no refuge anywhere; now he craves for it. When a man receives the Holy Spirit, his problems are not altered, but he has a Refuge from which he can deal with them; before, he was out in the world being battered, now the centre of his life is at rest and he can begin, bit by bit, to get things uncovered and rightly related."

And elsewhere:

"The still small voice is an appeal not to superstitious belief in God, but to the actuality of God to man. God disposes altogether of a relationship to Himself born of superstitious dread- 'No, stand like a man, and listen to facts as they are'. God counsels Job- 'Don't come to too hasty a conclusion, but gird up your loins like a man and wait. You have done right so far in that you would not have Me misrepresented, but you must recognize that there are facts you do not know, and wait for me to give the revelation of them on the ground of your moral obedience'."

In a nutshell, I learned some things about God and His sovereign keeping care. I got no specific answers to specific problems. Rather, a settled peace and "starch" for the journey. I knew that in His hands I would "fight better".

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