Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tavener's Svyati: O Holy One, and Oswald Chambers

I'm listening to a cellist, Steven Isserlist, play the above song, and it's haunting, and stirring, and all of those things that music should be. I really, really like the cello.


This also accurately describes the past two days' readings from Oswald Chambers' "My utmost for His highest".

The first, Feb 21:

If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning. This may describe affection and it may bring us a warm feeling, but it is not a true and accurate description of love.

Have you ever been driven to do something for God not because you felt that it was useful or your duty to do so, or that there was anything in it for you, but simply because you love Him? Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him? I’m not referring to works which could be regarded as divine and miraculous, but ordinary, simple human things— things which would be evidence to God that you are totally surrendered to Him. Have you ever created what Mary of Bethany created in the heart of the Lord Jesus? "She has done a good work for Me."

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him even small gifts of surrender, just to show how genuine our love is for Him. To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness. Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves, and we become overly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, out of fear of offending God. ". . . but perfect love casts out fear . . ." once we are surrendered to God ( 1 John 4:18 ). We should quit asking ourselves, "Am I of any use?" and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him. The issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time.

The second, Feb 22:

Be still, and know that I am God . . . —Psalm 46:10

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified. Every hope or dream of the human mind will be fulfilled if it is noble and of God. But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God. He brings fulfillment, "because you have kept My command to persevere . . ." ( Revelation 3:10 ).
Continue to persevere spiritually.

These readings really made an impact upon me, and it always startles me when I see something in print and it takes my breath away and I feel sucker-punched. Not painful, so much as, breathless. Without breath.

Seeing the words, "Be still, and know that I am God" really, REALLY does that to me. I have words tattooed on my wrists (yes, I have tattoos from before I was baptized) that read, Just Breathe, Let It Go. I've always struggled with being able to breathe, to not white-knuckle life. All of life. Every little facet. I have, a few times in my short life thus far, been able to breathe, and let go. To open the hands and let go.

Seeing the words, "Be still, and know that I am God" brings to mind a panicked mare, skittish, unwilling to trust, and having a skilled handler shush her, whisper the right words, and with gentle hands, bring her back down to a state of calm and focused awareness.

There is so much more that I want to say here, but I'm running on an empty tank and I've got work early in the morning. Perhaps I'll find the inspiration to finish these thoughts tomorrow. But honestly, I doubt it. Midterms, and projects, and the like.

p.s. planting starts soon.

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