A Friendship with Oswald

By B.J. Funk –

I could safely say that Oswald Chambers and I are friends, having met over forty years ago. He talks to me daily, and even though I don’t understand all he is saying in his book, I always come back the next day to hear him again. These daily chats enrich my life.

His book, My Utmost for His Highest, has been underlined, circled, and marked in so much that it is a complete mess. It falls apart in my hands. So, I ordered a new one, leather bound and beautiful. When he comes to my desk to talk, I know that something of depth will reach out to my searching soul. It always does.

I underline, mark, and write in the margins things I understand as well as questions to ponder. He is the kind of friend who makes me think, and that’s the kind I need. Not willing to let me get by with skimming over his guidance, he constantly pulls me deeper, challenges me, makes me question and probe as together we explore this fulfilling life of being a Christian.

I have a friend who says, “Every time I read this book, Oswald Chambers beats up on me.” That’s intentional. One gets the idea that Oswald wants to challenge us, and sometimes that feels like a beating!

In the introduction, written by a former Chaplain of the United States Senate, Richard Halverson states beautifully the heart of this book. “The book’s strength lies in its stubborn insistence on the objective reality of redemption as the only secure foundation.” Later he writes, “Through the years Chambers has kept me on course by bringing me back to Jesus. Believing Jesus, not just believing my beliefs about Jesus, is basic.”

Halverson states, “No book except the Bible has influenced my walk with Christ at such deep and maturing levels. Nor has any influenced my preaching and teaching so much.”

When teaching on the Holy Spirit, I always refer to Oswald’s penetrating insight. “The Holy Spirit is the One who makes real in you all that Jesus did for you.” Those words are so powerful that I have sewn them in the lining of my heart, and there they remain.

Concerning sin, Oswald writes, “Lord, identify me with Thy death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Then he asks this question of you and me. “Am I prepared to let the Spirit of God search me until I know what the disposition of sin is – the thing that lusts against the Spirit of God in me?” And later in that teaching, “Have I entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is the life of Christ in my flesh and blood?”

I fall short over and over, but like the deer that pants for water, I am drawn back again to the deep pools of satisfying water.

Stepping on many Christian’s toes, Oswald writes, “If you become a necessity to a soul, you are out of God’s order.” Instead, we should repeat often what John the Baptist said of his role in the life of Jesus. “He must increase and I must decrease.”

“Watch for all you are worth until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another. Never mind what havoc it brings, what upsets, what crumbling of health, rejoice with divine hilarity when once his voice is heard. You may often see Jesus Christ wreck a life before he saves it.”

Concerning sanctification, Oswald once again leaves us no space to dawdle. “Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. It means every power of body, soul, and spirit chained and kept for God’s purpose only. Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an intense broadening of all our interests in God. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled him will rule us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost us everything that is not of God in us.”

Here’s another sentence that keeps residence in my heart. “My worth to God in public is what I am in private.” With that statement, we could say Oswald has gone to meddling, but that’s the only way to get the “sort of” Christian transformed into an “over the top” one. The world does not need “sort of” Christians. 

Meddle away, Oswald.

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