I have found a surprising amount of truth in this little book as of late (pictured: My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers). It was given to me about four years ago and I rejected it outright; completely refusing to read it but still unable to get rid of it. This devotional meant a lot to the person who gave it to me, so I couldn’t bring myself to donate it when it came time to eliminate some of my books. It’s managed to stay through yearly donations, no matter how much I did not want to read this dang book.
I think I rejected it so much equally because I don’t talk to the person who gave me the book anymore and because the book seems so…fluffy? I can’t stand when Christians speak/write in “Christian-ese,” or like they’re not real people. You know – using outdated words they read in the Bible that no one actually uses nowadays. Not only is it completely unnecessary and impossible to relate to, I find it distracting from the message they are trying to convey. It also comes across as a little high and mighty, and that in turn comes across to me as putting religion over actual faith…which is a big no-no. Anyway, from the one time I tried to read this book that’s the impression I got and, I’ll admit, I was way too quick to judge it.
It wasn’t until August of this year when my boyfriend and I were doing a Bible study together and, on a whim, I decided to take it off my bookshelf and put it with the rest of the study books I had laid out for us. Surprisingly, it was the first book he picked up. Rolling my eyes immediately – which, thankfully, he didn’t catch – he began to read from the page with the current date (August 26th).
Lo and behold, that devotion was centered around his all-time favorite verse: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…” (John 14:27). He has mentioned this verse countless times since we started dating – call it a coincidence or not, but I thought that was pretty crazy. So, I thought, alright I’ll give it this one shot.
Man it was hard to read. No, not because the devotion read like what I had been expecting, but because it was exactly what I needed to hear.
To put things in context, this past year has been a year of learning how to manage stress and to worry less. I’ve slowly been returning to myself, but at the time of reading that passage I was a complete mess of worry and stress. I underlined the question “Have you left no stone of your faith unturned, yet still not found any well of peace, joy, or comfort?” because that was how I felt to a tee. I wanted to cry, it was so accurate. I felt the farthest from God I think I have felt since I was saved, and no matter what I tried to accomplish I was failing left and right. Failure after failure left me with faith that meant nothing to me anymore because even though I still wanted others to know about God, I wasn’t so sure that He actually had my back.
I think the best response to my attitude at the time can be answered with a line from the same passage: “But if you only try to worry your way out of the problem, you destroy His effectiveness in you, and you deserve whatever you get.” Sounds harsh, I know. I felt the same way, especially considering the fact that before I read it myself it was my boyfriend who read it to me. Hearing “you deserve what you get” from a loved one isn’t in any way easy, but there is a lot of truth in the statement because if I was not willing to let go of worry I couldn’t expect to receive any help…the basis of faith in God is exactly that: faith. Worry is the opposite of faith – of trust.
I’m not going to claim that I never worry or stress out about anything. Obviously that would be ridiculous; I’m still me. I’m still a human with a natural inclination to fear inevitably failing again. However, I’ve learned to be more aware of it and catch myself when I get caught up in anxiety.
Jesus doesn’t make you perfect – you’re still going to be human and flawed – that’s how it works – but He does help you out when you ask for it and have a little faith to go along with it. He’s there to prep you for the next life and make the best/most use of this one. While there is better yet to come, this life doesn’t exist solely to be difficult all the time. Some things happen that are completely out of our own control, but most of our problems can be helped with a little change in our attitudes. As difficult of a reality as that is to face, it’s a reality nonetheless and a lesson I am still learning.
Anyway, I completely forgot about that story until I opened the devotional to that particular page and thought it was worth sharing. God is great, self perspective is good, and life doesn’t have to be filled with constant worry. That is all.