An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life. – Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest
Isn’t it almost everyone’s hope that their life will impact others?? I know it’s true for me. Everyday, I hope that certain actions I take, the things I say, the encouragement I give, will have a positive impact on the people around me.
But I know that it doesn’t always happen.
Chambers hits it on the head, too. We Christians so often live our lives so that what we do will be seen, so that it will impact others, and there is NOTHING wrong with that! Nevertheless, the true impact we have on others comes from within. If we do not have the personal, inner strength and foundations to act upon, then our external life will never truly impact people in a lasting way.
The power of a person’s life comes from within.
Let’s cultivate our inner, personal lives! Because I don’t know about you, but I want my life to impact others. And I want the power of my life to come from within.
What are You then, my God? What, but the Lord God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent. Most merciful, yet most just. Most hidden, yet most present. Most beautiful, yet most strong. Stable, yet incomprehensible. Unchangeable, yet all-changing. Never new, never old. All renewing, and bringing age upon the proud and they know it not. Ever working, ever at rest. Still gathering, yet needing nothing. Supporting, filling, and over-spreading. Creating, nourishing, and maturing. Seeking, yet having all things. You love, yet without passion; are jealous, without anxiety; repent, yet grieve not; are angry, yet serene; change Your works, Your purpose unchanged. Receive again what You found, yet did not ever lose. Never in need, yet rejoicing in gains. You receive over and above, that You may own; and who has anything that is not Yours? You pay debts, owing nothing; settle debts, losing nothing. And what have I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy? Or what saith any man when he speaks of You?
- The Confessions of Saint Augustine; book 1, chap 4
Our God is a PARADOX.
He is and He isn’t and there is no way to wrap our minds around it.
But thank the Lord He is what He is. He is bigger and greater and better than all we could ask or imagine.
Thank you, Jehovah, for being THE greatest paradox.
“Too late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved You! Behold You were within me, while I was outside: it was there that I sought You, a deformed creature, rushed headlong upon these things of beauty which You have made. You were with me, but I was not with You. They kept me far from you, those fair things which, if they were not in You, would not exist at all. You called and shouted and burst through my deafness. You flashed and shone and scattered my blindness. You breathed Your fragrance on me, and I drew in a breath and pant for You. I tasted, and hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.” – Saint Augustine; Confessions book 10, chapter 38
In this excerpt, Augustine is lamenting the years he wasted chasing after sin and the desires of the flesh. As he says, they wouldn’t even be here if God had not made them! Yet Augustine continues crying out, declaring that he has loved God too late.
Shouldn’t this be my heart’s cry as well?
For myself, it is true. I am a deformed creature, a fallen human who chases after the things of this world and so often forgets the One who made them for my pleasure. Have I loved you too late, Yahweh?
Look again at what Augustine says. Jehovah comes in and BREAKS THROUGH. He comes in and TEARS DOWN MY DEFENSES. He turns me from the evil I have done and He washes over me. He breathes on me and I desire more of Him.
You have touched me, Adonai, and I burn for Your peace.
Sunday’s teaching at church was all about how being a disciple is to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. Denying yourself means to die to self. I’ve been mulling over this idea of dying to self a lot in the past few days.
As I’ve said before, Christianity is an everyday battle. There is no relief as you fight against flesh. And every second of every day you have to die to yourself in order to let God work in you. You get easily wearied. And there is more than you can possibly imagine that you have to die to self about in this life. Not just the big things, but the little, everyday frustrations.
Being a follower of Christ means dying to self in the simple, little things of life too. Like when my younger brother asks me not to fold the pages in his new book… Unfortunately, it takes all of me to say no to my desire to argue and fold the pages just to annoy/upset him. To be honest, it’s terrifying how easy it is to just let my sinful nature take over and do the things I want. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so very weak.
I am thankful for a God who promises to give us our daily bread, DAILY. He will give me the strength to fight against my flesh desires. Today I will last and I will overcome. And in the end, I am victorious, because my God reigns in victory.
Today has been a hard day.
Nothing necessarily bad has happened. It’s just been a regular old day, nothing special or particularly difficult. But it’s been rough; heavy on my spirit.
So after coming home from a day of work and Bible study and doing all day, I spent some time just BEING with my Savior. It’s amazing how truly refreshing that can be, just resting in His presence. And as I did this, I learned something, a lesson that I feel has been kind of skipped over in teaching Christianity…
Christianity is an every day battle. It NEVER stops.
Oswald Chambers puts it this way:
We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people.
I get so lost in the longing and desire to be a little-Christ, a servant and disciple of the Lord, that I sometimes get this unrealistic idea of what it means to be that follower, disciple, and servant. Oftentimes, the common, everyday ways God uses to shape us are the hardest ones. I struggle with discouragement and lies that the enemy throws my way. How am I going to last in the long run if a simple thing like a latte made wrong ruins my attitude? And reading this today really opened my eyes to a question I need to begin asking myself when my soul becomes weary and I feel like I can’t go on.
Am I willing to let God use common, everyday ways to shape my character into who His vision of me is?
Is it worth it??
And for today, I say yes. A million times yes.
Last night my two youngest brothers were getting into a tiff because one of them needed a towel and the other wouldn’t go get it. Being the responsible older sister that I am (uh-huh :P) I was telling the youngest that it doesn’t matter what his brother had ever done, or didn’t do in this case, for him before. He needed to do the right thing, and not worry about what had happened in the past.
Treat people right, no matter what they have done to you in the past.
And as I said this, it hit me that I don’t practice what I preach. Do I treat people the way I know is the RIGHT way to treat them? Whether they have hurt me, screwed me over, offended me, or done nothing at all to me in the past? Do I treat people with the love of Christ that He calls us to act in?
Sadly, I know the answer to this. And it’s not what I wish it was.
But here is the beauty of being a Christ follower; a little-Christ as C.S. Lewis puts it. God promises to transform me. To change me. To turn me into a little-Christ, a follower, a disciple, who WILL treat people with love and no favoritism.
Don’t treat people based on what they’ve done to you, but rather, based on what you know to be RIGHT.
If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life, which you yourself cannot reach, into perfect harmony. – Oswald Chambers
There has been a lot going on in the lives of the people I love; nothing that necessarily affects me, but it touches me because it is affecting the ones I love.
God has had a constant theme of intentionality in my life. Every time I think He can’t possibly teach me something more on how intentional and purposeful He is, He does just that. (Because, you know, He’s God and He does have a sense of humor.) This time, He’s been showing me yet again how He uses every single little circumstance or happening in the past and present to bring about His perfect will. And like Oswald Chambers said, “it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be,” because my God is so much bigger than it all, He continues to work His will in even the most complex and confusing situations.
Jeremiah 31:21 says: “Set up road markers for yourself; establish signposts! Keep the highway in mind, the way you have traveled.” We are called to remind ourselves of what God has so graciously done in our lives. And when we do this, we can see just how wonderful a conductor our Creator is; we can see the way He has orchestrated our lives for HIS glory. And that’s what living is about, right? Bringing Him glory.
With seeing His will unfold in your past and the continued themes running through your future, how can you not agree with God’s purpose? It may not bring happiness in this time, but it will produce joy and a spirit of harmony with your Savior.
He is an INTENTIONAL God.