A normal approach to devotional reading and Scripture meditation is to open the Bible and, perhaps, a favorite devotional aid as well, read the day’s selection, all the while praying for God to illuminate His Word or speak through someone else’s thoughts about it. Generally, God says pretty much what I expect Him to say, likely because it is what I want to find. As long as He says and does what I prefer, life proceeds routinely. It is precisely when the Almighty speaks and acts contrary to my prescribed norm that the trouble begins. Occasionally, the Father surprises, disturbs, unsettles by going off script. I had just such an experience yesterday morning.
I read the daily from Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” as I do most mornings. I confess I have succumbed to technological advance and take advantage these days of reading Chambers from an iPhone app. Each day I devour Chambers’ thoughts on living abandoned to Christ while sipping coffee and fighting the mental inclination to wander into work and a myriad other distractions. The day’s devotional message concludes with the offer to swipe the screen in order to see “Today’s Wisdom.” I should preface what I am about to share by admitting that I find myself expressing these days, with more than a hint of pride in the admission, that the older I get, the more blunt and less tolerant I become. It is as if I wear impatience as a distorted badge of honor. Now you will understand my reaction when I read:
“Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble, as I get older? Am I exhibiting the life that men take knowledge of as having been with Jesus, or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have my own way? It is a great thing to tell yourself the truth.” (From “The Place of Help”)
I sat stunned, wounded, bleeding internally. How had I embraced my own spiritual demise by camouflaging it with shadows of ignorance? Stripped bare of pretense, all that was left to me was contrition and confession. I pleaded right then and there for divine CPR. With no ulterior motive, I petitioned the Father to eradicate self-assertion, eliminate accumulation of regret, and jettison my inclination to hoard sharp edges. This journey of the Cross will never be an easy one, but the burden is made lighter remembering that aging is no excuse for hardness.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 | NRSV