Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Intercessory Introspection

What an unexpected title Oswald Chambers gives to an examination of Psalm 139! What does he mean?
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. (v.1)

“Every man is too big for himself, thank God for everyone who realises it and, like the Psalmist, hands himself over to be searched out by God....”*

“...when by the reception of the Holy Spirit I begin to realise that God knows all the
deepest possibilities there are in me, knows all the eccentricities of my being, I find that the mystery of myself is solved by this besetting God....”

“The Psalmist implies...‘I cannot search to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot trace, dreams I cannot get at; my God, search me out and explore me, and let me know that Thou hast....’”

“When we say—‘even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.’ There is no foreboding anxiety, because ‘His love in times past’ enables us to rest confidentially in Him....”

“[The Holy Spirit] brings me into oneness with God entirely when once I am willing to waive my right to myself and let Him have His way. No man gets there without a crisis, a crisis of a terrific nature in which he goes to the death of something....”
I am reminded of my crisis of fear and anxiety last week as the church camp-out drew near. Not always, but sometimes, I behave in ways out of my fear of what people will think. I want my deeds and thoughts to be acceptable or even laudable. I present myself to be what I expect is wanted. But if I'm behaving in certain ways out of fear, then I'm not really being honest about myself, am I? I'm giving a false picture. It's a form of dishonesty.

So, for example, I was so afraid of the camp-out and making a good impression that I went way overboard in what I took to contribute. I wound up taking most of it home. Yes, I am genuinely generous in many circumstances. I love to give. But how much of my generosity is genuine and how much is out of fear? Taking too much food to the camp was done out of fear. Sharing what I had once I was there was a genuine desire. I think I was afraid of being wrong and “had to” be sure to do the right thing. A friend told me that that’s control. It is. It's trying to control what others think of me—a manipulative "purchase" of love. What is reasonable and what isn't? I often don't know. I'm obviously trying to compensate for something in the past but what? I still have to work a lot of this out—a difficult and probably a lengthy process.

And this is where Oswald Chambers’ statements connect with me. Finding the answers to why I behave in destructive and unreasonable ways can come only as I submit these ways to God and ask him to show me what he already knows. It’s accepting the crises he brings to my life and putting to death those things he wants purged from me. It is knowing God is present in all parts of my life—I can’t escape him—and that I can trust him in all things.

God, thank you that you know all about me. Thank you for your intimate knowledge of all my ways and all my thoughts. I want the oneness with you that Jesus says is possible. I want you to have your way with me in all things. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23, 24 NIV)

*All non-biblical quotes are from “Personality—III: Psalm 139, Intercessory Introspection” in “Biblical Ethics” in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, pages 118, 119.

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