I enjoy being discipled by well-crafted phrases, phrases that capture spiritual truths. The Love of God, a small book from the Oswald Chamber’s Library, recently provided exactly those sorts of phrases for me to mull-over in my down time. For example:
“Watch the circumstances of life. We get them fairly well mixed, and if we are getting fairly well more than enough of one kind, let us thank God for it. It is producing the particular grace God wants us to manifest.” (pg. 75)
That’s a challenging thought. What a relief that it is God’s responsibility to produce that end result, not mine. I imagine this process is part of the reason Paul could declare in 2 Corinthians 6:10 that even though he was sorrowful, he had reason for rejoicing. In Paul’s poverty he had gleaned spiritual truths that were making many others rich with the knowledge of God.
Another of Oswald Chamber’s quotes challenged me to consider my brain from a new perspective:
“God does not give us the mind of Christ. He gives us the Spirit of Christ, and we have to see that the Spirit of Christ in us works through our brains in contact with actual life and that we form His mind.” (pg. 55)
I honestly hoped that with time spent in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit would eventually just pour into my brain what I needed to know. Instead, I discovered that I must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to work with my thoughts, life experiences, and wise counsel to create within me “the mind of Christ.” Meditation on God’s Word allows me to give my mind, the thinking part of me, time to grow and change the way I apply the truths of God’s Word to my specific situation.
I want to allow God to create neural pathways that connect the written words of the Bible, the spoken words from biblical teachers, and personal experiences so they can work together to create the mind-of-Christ within me. What an amazing privilege—having the Creator of the universe leave His imprint upon me through His thoughts coursing through my neurons.
“We are only what we are in the dark, all the rest is reputation. What God looks at is what we are in the dark—the imaginations of our mind; the thoughts of our hearts; the habits of our bodies; these are the things that mark us in God’s sight.” (pg. 56)
Oswald’s quote brings a profoundly adult perspective to the night. He reminds me that the dark discloses the real me, the components that identify me as God’s child—my imagination, thoughts, and habits.
I long to have both a pure heart and pure thoughts. Some days I feel encouraged; other days, not so much. John reminds me that this total redemption will most certainly happen in one amazing moment—the moment I see Christ! (1 John 3:2). Now that’s a thought worth dwelling upon this evening as the sun sets and darkness blankets day.
Oswald Chambers also identified a common subtlety of the Christian walk—how to discern between the Holy Spirit’s leading and my own thoughts. He states it this way:
“We must distinguish between the working of our own suspicions and the checking of the Spirit of God who works as quietly and silently as the breeze.” (pg. 105-106)
So, what is that like? Most of us will at some time in our lives feel like God has spoken so clearly that we could almost describe it as audible. Usually, though, it’s just as Oswald says: it’s the “checking of the Spirit of God”.
Perhaps we note a particular truth from God’s Word. We wake up with a prompting in our thoughts. In that moment we simply know. Our spirit settles. Our doubts leave. We’re ready to make a decision. We change directions or discard behaviors. These are the moments when I know the Holy Spirit has been at work. When I reflect upon these times, it is true that He’s worked most often “as quietly and gently as a summer’s breeze.”
This last selection reminds me of children being compared to arrows in the hand of a warrior (Psa. 127:4). I’d never considered my own life an arrow until now:
“A saint’s life is in the hands of God as a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see. He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, “I cannot stand anymore.” But God does not heed; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. We are here for God’s design, not our own.” (pg. 101)
We’ve all felt that stretching and looked for ways to escape. As a Christian bought with Christ’s blood, I can trust God to use my life to accomplish His will—if I am willing to be an arrow in his bow. Watching for how the mysteries of His ways unfold in my life can help soothe the stretching and straining. One glorious day my work will be completed. Until then I am here to be used by Him however He chooses. In the in-between time I’ll remind myself that God is taking aim at something in His Kingdom that will be forever changed for His glory—if I’m willing to be an arrow in His hand.