Saturday, December 30, 2006

Enforced Secret Joy #24 – Goodbye Oswald!

Hot damn, folks! I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to 2006 for a number of reasons, but none looms largest like finally being able to literally close the book on Oswald Chambers and his masochistic collection of devotionals My Utmost For His Highest.

Nobody can say I didn’t do my best to give Oswald a shot. I read the whole damn book, one devotional each day, like a good little Christian should. I had actually been given the book a few years ago, tried to get through it, and would usually discard it around April because life would overtake me, or I just got disgusted and/or disheartened by his continual flagellations.

But no, 2006 was going to be my Year Of Searching Spiritually, and that includes the bad as well as the good. I thought I’d be changed by something I read in there, something would click in my brain, and the creaky iron door would fling wide open, letting in a burst of pure white Godly light, and I’d UNDERSTAND! BY GOD I’D UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING! And Oswald would be my hero, not my nemesis, and everything would be peachy keen cool.

Nope. Nope, nope, double dog nope nope.

Y’know, I have to say that I’ve talked to other people about My Utmost For His Highest, and the ones who love it have been married, by an overwhelming margin. I think there may be something to that. That it doesn’t matter if you read a devotional that makes you feel like hell and death warmed over spit, because you can go to your sweetie and they would perk you right up.

But at last, at last, one more day and it’s OVER. No more reading malarkey like “When God speaks, never discuss it with anyone as if to decide what your response may be.” But what if I don’t KNOW if it’s God, Oswald? What if I don’t KNOW? It could be the Bitch In My Head, ‘cause she sounds just like YOU. Oswald never had these problems, not once he became a Christian. He ALWAYS knew it was God. How serene, how glorious, how wonderful to be him. Would that he could spread that assurance and beauty to the rest of us. Nope, he says, “The calling of a New Testament worker is to expose sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior.” Silly me, I thought it was to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Okay, okay, to be fair, I have found some useful things, like “it’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight and no one paying even the remotest attention to us.” and “Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried.” But for every “The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments in life, but what during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening.” there’s been three “Notice the kind of people he brings around you, and you will be humiliated once you realize that this is actually His way of revealing to you the kind of person you have been to Him.” Yeah? My friends are cool, buddy! or “My questions arise whenever I cease to obey” All questions? Every single last one? So I’m not allowed to ask why it is that I can’t hear God? Just obey in the silence? Yes, says Oswald. No, says Amy The Writer. The silence bugs, man. It BUGS.

So it is with the UTMOST pleasure that I bid adieu to the man, the myth, the masochist, Mr. Oswald Chambers. He appears to have plenty of fans ‘round the world. One detractor will not make one whit o’ difference.

Dear God, thank you for Oswald Chambers (because we have to love the people we don’t like.) Thank you for My Utmost For His Highest, because a bunch of people like it, even if I don’t. Thank you for the devotionals that made me want to puke, thank you for the devotionals that made me think. Thank you for giving me the tenacity to finish the book this time, instead of tossing it aside as I did in previous years. And thank you that it’s finally finally over. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.


Alexa said...

I have had a love/hate relationship with Mr. Chambers because a lot of the stuff makes sense, and yet I have lots of questions about his writing that don't go away. I'm not a relativist, but I think there is a difference been truth and opinion. God's world is pretty big, and there are a lot of people. And people have a lot of opinions. So when people throw around their opinions as fact - the whole mess gets confusing, doesn't it?

Just blowing off some steam - peace out for now, sista!

kathy said...

I've never gotten all the way through that book, but (don't tell anyone) I don't feel a bit guilty about it. :-) Congrats on sticking with it!