Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Can we hear? Will we respond?

The reading for today in Oswald Chamber' My Utmost for His Highest is entitled "Called of God" and references Isaiah's hearing of God's call.

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." (Isaiah 6:8)

The idea is that God is talking to everyone, yet Isaiah heard His still small voice and chose to respond based on that hearing. Oswald says,

"Whether or not I hear God's call depends on the state of my ears; and what I hear depends on my disposition."

This fits wonderfully in the discussion of the understanding of perspectives. Isaiah was responding, but it wasn't necessarily to a personal call (though that could be argued) but a general call. He was responding because of, as Oswald puts it, the state of his ears and disposition.

Oswald's quote is interesting because he says that "whether or not I hear" is a result of the state of his ears. Presumably his ears are that part of him which has the capability of truly hearing the call. This would be his spirit. It presumes that he was hitherto walking in the spirit and not the flesh; that he was not living a life blaspheming the Holy Spirit and thus hindering the work of the Spirit in his life. The state of our heart, or willingness to submit to the authority and love of Christ in our lives, then determines whether or not we can actually hear the still small voice of God when He speaks. If we are living in the flesh or at the leading of another master (like ourselves) it will be hard for our spirit to hear through the din of the carnal static. If however, our "disposition" is one that is submitted, one that is walking under the Lordship of God and His Christ, then not only will we hear, we will also hear the "what" of His call.

What we hear, the specifics of God's call and our place in it, can only be heard through a willing heart ("Who will go?") that is poised and ready for action. It is about having a continual relationship of building and mentoring by the Holy Spirit; it is about being willing to introspect and "let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God" as Oswald puts it; it is about having our hearts prepared so that when the moment comes, we have the opportunity to say "Here am I, send me."

If we neglect the Spirit of God and his leading, and aren't able to hear his voice through our flesh, and can't hear what He is calling us to do through our fallen disposition - will we be able to respond? Clearly the answer is no, and clearly the answer is straightforward, though the way may be difficult depending on how much we hang on to the flesh and walk under our own lordship.

Can we hear? Will we respond?

Monday, November 03, 2008

what will be

Oswald Chambers, in today's reading of My utmost for His Highest, commented about the breaking of our independence from God.
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. (Galatians 2:20)
In the last paragraph Mr. Chambers rhetorically asked whether we are going to make our selves available for God to help Himself to, or are we going to prevent Him from doing so due to our own "conception of what we are going to be?" I find this to be a very powerful question. As I consider my own life planning - work, formal education, certifications, ministries, and more - am I truly making myself available for His use and glory, or am I consumed with "vain ambition?"

Certainly my attempt and desire is to make myself available for the Master's use. If God called me to go to China to preach the gospel, could he gift me with tongues in Chinese? Sure! Would it make a difference if I was at the same time, working diligently to study and learn Mandarin Chinese? Sure! Would the latter prevent God from choosing me, or prevent me from being used if I only spoke English? No way! Would my speaking Chinese make me better or somehow more spiritual? Absolutely not! Would my obedience and choice by faith to learn Chinese so that I can be used in a deeper way be blessed? Oh yeah!

So my question then is, am I consumed with vanity for my own plans or am I really and truly making myself available to God for His plans. As it was put in a recent Christian movie, am I acting in faith to prepare the fields for rain and see His harvest? Certainly we can add nothing to God, but clearly we get to see Him more when we seek to be used! When we put our faith and obedience on the line, dying to self, we get to see Him do things that we would never see otherwise.

Oswald also says, "The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign away my own rights and become a bond-slave of Jesus Christ." To be His means that I am not mine. I am not my own, I am purchased with a price (1 Cor. 7:23). The problem however is that while it is somewhat easy to say those words, it's different to live them. Do I choose to take those thoughts captive? Do I choose to honor God with humility, even if I "lose?" By God's grace I set my heart once again to live the life of a bond-slave for Jesus and submit myself to His mercy, grace, joy, peace, hope, affliction as necessary, and above all, Love!