From a comfy chair in the corner of my candlelit dining room, I press the phone deeper into to my ear as my best friend’s voice is suddenly overtaken by what sounds like pinging under water. A sound that conjures up imagery of a submarine submerged in the recesses of the Atlantic, searching for cable and a clearer connection between us.
She is driving somewhere in Kansas on a sunny afternoon while I’m in London, preparing for dinner. We’ve learned to wait until the air between us clears before giving up on the conversation. A few seconds later, her voice is echoing, “Can you hear me now?” And laughter ensues.
As an expat, I use apps to communicate with people often. Over the past two and half years, I’ve learned that getting the utmost from conversation requires patient endurance. And sometimes perseverance.
“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen,” writes Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.
I don’t know about you but when what I’m cultivating isn’t growing, plans aren’t moving forward, and attaining goals seem as slow as snails slogging through mud, I battle a sinking feeling. I define lack as simply meaning I am not enough and quickly brainstorm solutions that all begin with more.
More research. More study. More preparation. More practice. More . . . fill in the blank.
And the more I fixate on doing more to fix the unseen and not yet, the further I stray from the Truth. I am not chanting, “Persevere!” but rehearsing the ways I’ve fallen short.
Focus inward while you wait on God and forget that you are deeply loved. Because the solution for finding fulfillment isn’t in doing more but being in God’s presence to remember who you are.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 35-39, ESV
Some of us wait with terrified hearts that our connection with God will eventually be cut off. We fear that God won’t come through in the way we desperately need Him to.
But Chambers reminds us that there is a call God makes to each of us. A call to spiritual perseverance with a clear connection toward truth. “A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.” We can toast L’Chaim! To Life! even when the details of life are unclear, fuzzy, and distorted.
Work from your head and soul amnesia is the outcome. Work from the soul and hope is what you hang on to.
Hope waits because hope believes God works all things together for our good.
A best friend becomes the best when they know how to wait in the mess with you. And Jesus is our closest friend.
We can live a hope-filled, Oswald Chambers legacy because the truth will always triumph over today’s tribulations. Getting the utmost from life doesn’t always require doing more but being still and persevering spiritually while you wait.
Recently, one of my essays was published in Utmost Ongoing: Reflections on the Legacy of Oswald Chambers, inspired by the February 22 devotion in his classic book, My Utmost for His Highest. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Chambers’ death, Utmost Ongoing is a compilation of reflections on the ways his timeless words have left a legacy of deepening faith in our hearts.
I’m giving two copies away! One for a blog subscriber and one to a Sabbath Society peep. Subscribe to the blog here and to the Sabbath Society here. (If you are subscribed to both, you have doubled your chances to win!) To be entered in the giveaway, answer one of these question in the comments below.
How has God been a friend to you this week? What passage of scripture is resonating most currently? If Oswald Chambers has impacted your faith, tell me about that too!!
For more than one chance to win a copy of Utmost Ongoing, find this photo in my Instagram gallery and Facebook page and leave this phrase in the comments: I want to live my Utmost for His highest!
The winners will be chosen on Monday, November 6!
Download our printable November calendar with prompts that help you persevere in finding spiritual rest for your soul from the eleventh chapter in Rhythms of Rest: L’Chaim! To Life!
UPDATE: The winners of the giveaway are Jo Isom and Cathy Bowers. Congrats ladies!! And thanks for all of you who left comments. I was greatly blessed by reading them.
It’s been a while since I had spent some time alone with God. Mainly because I am so wrapped up with what is going on in life…or what is not going on as the case may be. However, I managed to carve out 15 minutes on Monday and Tuesday to just be in His presence. Just getting out there and wandering amongst His creativity makes a whole heap of difference to clear the mind. I didn’t get chance to do the same on Wednesday. It was such a rubbish day all round, but God was still there amongst my mess. He was patient with me throughout the day and kept me under control. If I hadn’t of spent the time cultivating my souls on Mon & Tues, Weds would have turned out so different. He has definitely been a friend through the good and the bad!
I love that God was with me from before I was born. There is no friend who can compare to that so He is my very best friend. He loves me and cares for like nobody else! And I am blessed that this friends sends me a community of humanly friends that show me Jesus all the time by their sweet actions and caring for me!
I want to live my utmost for His highest. I’ve been dealing with the sin of pride & bitterness. James 4:7-10 has become a lifeline as well as remembering who I am to God. I am his daughter, chosen, predestined, saved, being perfected daily. My hope and encouragement is that His goal is to make me like Jesus and I am in the furnace. I read My Utmost almost every day. This devotional from you today has helped me in dealing with all of the above & with my husbands diagnosis of Parkinsons. I felt like it was just too much but He helps us both deal with it daily. Thank you for reminding me again what Romans 8:35-39 means to me. We can never ever be separated from Him, we are in the palm of His hand. Thx Shelly
God has been a close friend to me this week, letting me recognize my feelings while still speaking truth over me…we have found another spot…I suspect it is cancer – again….it will mean some hard choices and difficult conversations….but the verse resonating with me through each trial is Deuteronomy 2:7 – “For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing.” NASB. It is especially meaningful as I am forty years of age….the whole way, all my cancer wanderings….He has been with me…I have not lacked a thing….
A brief update: NO NEW CANCER! Rejoicing and relieved… I praise Him for the mercy of His answer being no new cancer, for now. (My type of cancer is a high likelihood of a repeat; but trusting our loving Father for the future, even if it includes more cancer. He is faithful and true.)
I love this time of year and seeing all the gratitude. My focus is on scripture that speaks of the thanks we have because of God’s love for us.
This week as I taught the Bible lesson from Romans 4 to elementary school aged children in BSF I understood how God speaks for us -in ways only the Holy Spirit can He gave me words, examples and the right questions to ask the kiddos that showed me by their answers they truly understood salvation by faith vs works- because of His great love He helped me and that is what a true friend does- He Helps. Verses 18-25 made such an impact on me regarding Abraham’s faith: “against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” ; “without weakening his faith…” ; and especially this: Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.-vs21-22. This is something that I can grasp as I get older- God honors our faith and His power is limitless It’s taken me a lifetime to get some of God’s basic principles- slow but sure- that’s me.
I too, have been strongly impacted by OC- one of his statements hit me full in the face when I was still puzzling the reasons I went through some things with my mother as she drew closer to the end of her time here on earth. The quote came to me quite unexpected one day about a year after she died. He said: “if you are going to be used by God, he will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in his hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so you will never be surprised at what you come across.” Only in that moment when I heard that for the first time was I able to get perspective and understand the “why” that had been dogging me. (on a lighter note your pictures have helped me stay connected to London – and I get to celebrate my birthday there in a couple of weeks- I’ve been through a 3 year drought between visits. Thanks for the snapshots of everyday life there!)
God has been reminding me to be still slow down rest at his feet it has been hard lately to do that but I know my soul needs it my verse lately is be still and know I am God. Psalm 46:10
This has been a challenging week. But God has met me when I have taken the time to ask for his guidance. He hasn’t failed me.
These words were meant for me today, Shelly. Thank you for writing them.
God’s been a friend to me this week by blessing me with a job interview on Monday.thank u for giving us a chance to win
By blessing me with a interview
He is whispering peace, His Spirit is prompting gratitude … even in the midst of life’s challenging situations.
This has been a most challenging and painful week for my family. Yet the faithfulness and strength which God has supplied has been a balm for each of our souls. Thank you for sharing about this book as this will surely be a welcomed addition to my “to read” list. I want to live my Utmost for His highest!
God has been my friend and very present with me as I had a week of several days off from work. I work part time but it still takes time away from home. I was on a church women’s retreat last weekend so it was extra nice to come home and not be rushed to catch up from a weekend away. I got to enjoy long walks with my puppy and admire God’s creation. Just lovely. I am grateful beyond words. Chambers has impacted my walk with the Lord greatly. I discovered his writing as a young Mom and have used his book often. The verse I am mediating on now is Phil 4:8.
God simply reminded me today that he loves me. On a day I needed desperately to hear.
God keeps reminding me of all the little blessings in this crazy life of teaching, motherhood, writing, and ministry. These little gifts are reminders of how much He loves me. The beauty in the autumn leaves today led me to reflect that on how we are all mosaics reflecting God as we let God heal our broken places and make something new and beautiful!
God redeemed my time this week. I already had a busy week planned when a relative announced plans to be in the area Weds evening through Friday. Rather than say “I’m sorry, I’m too busy,” I cleared Thursday and Friday, and arranged Weds so I’d be home in time to prepare supper and a our guest room (but just barely). Upon arriving home Weds afternoon, I received a text that our visitor was leaving the city to head toward us and would arrive “shortly.” I set about my work, knowing that “shortly” might be delayed by our immense evening traffic. Indeed, there was plenty of time to cook, prepare, welcome my husband home, and enjoy a cuppa before our guest, rested, restored, and ready to visit.
I want to live my Utmost for His highest! It’s Friday morning here in Virginia Beach and I am very tired and weary. Lots of things to do today but I am trusting in Him to provide all I need. He goes before me and leads me. He is my Adonai and I love him so very much. I will continue to run the race He lays out before me today knowing that all I do, I do to bring Him glory, honor and praise. ~ Blessings…. Cathy
How has God been a friend to you this week? What passage of scripture is resonating most currently? If Oswald Chambers has impacted your faith, tell me about that too!!
He has provided when I have been weary and tired. He has shown up in a mighty way and shown me His love and strength when I haven’t had any.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Oswald Chambers has shown me God’s truths and has encouraged me many times.
October has been an unusually busy time for me. I feel stressed as I began to type the list of things here so have edited them out. Lol. I believe God often speaks to me in my devotional emails. Early this week my emails were encouraging me to rest and be restored. To be still.
I’m currently reading in Romans and God has spoken to me about you don’t receive grace through your works bc as a busy mom we are always working trying to do the next thing on the list. So grateful that He sees us in the every day.
It is exciting to see a new book about one of my all-time favorite devotionals. I received my first copy from one of the elder sisters at my church after she went on to be with the Lord thirty years ago. I was a new born again Believer and the worn and much used with her side notes My Utmost for His Highest taught me so much. This book has stood the test of time.
I have recently been focusing on God’s promise (and his DESIRE) to be WITH US. From Genesis to Revelation, there are quotes that tell us that God wants this relationship more than anything else. Here is just one:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV)
1 Peter 1:13 – “Set your hope fully on grace”
I’ve been thinking this week about the things I set my hope on – success, approval, comfort, others, myself….learning to rest completely on the grace of Jesus and come to terms with the reality that I can bring nothing to the table….and that is both terrifying and liberating.
Thank you Shelly for celebrating Oswald Chambers. Chambers focus on always being and doing your best for a God has been my life song. Everything we do from scrubbing toilets, office work, caring for babies, cooking etc to community service, prayer, worship and rest should be done for he glory of God. No matter what life brings we are God’s workmanship and He created us for excellence.
I’ve been living in an echo chamber this week—a sacred echo chamber! Ha! Isn’t that grace? As I read your post, I thought about one of the many themes in the book of Hebrews that has stayed with me is regarding perseverance. Your words here remind me that we remain faithful and persevere when we focus. We don’t focus well when we are spinning in circles all the time. We need to give enough time to let the signal clear so we can understand the next right step. Loving you today…thanks for not totally breaking up with blogging!! xo
Shelly, I loved reading your encouragement here, because persevering seems to be one of the hardest things we do in our Christian walk . . . and yet, if we really know the Lord we will. It’s not so much that we have it in ourselves to do so. But because He never lets us go, Friend and Savior that He is, He gives us the *strength* to do so. Yesterday, I was writing about a recent trip I took to Iona, Scotland. Most people from the States would die to go to Scotland, and instead, I thought I was going to die going–quite literally through terrorism, a plane crash–some unforeseen peril. And getting there was not easy. From my neck of the woods, I had to take a plane to Chicago, and from there two international flights, a train, a ferry, a van across an island, and another ferry before arriving on Iona’s far-flung shores. Just the traveling seemed to exact from me a great measure of perseverance. But on my very first day, our retreat leader challenged us to climb to the summit of Iona. I have never been athletic, and I have never been a climber, and yet, step by slippery step (in the rain), I persevered and clambered to the top. At one point, I thought I had reached the top, only to look up after concentrating so hard on looking down and being assured of my footholds, and realized I was only halfway there. I think that is just the point where we can get discouraged in life–after we have extended obedience to take the journey, have traveled a long way already, have overcome hardship, and have indeed persevered. And yet, after all of that, we are still not there. We must persevere some more, and we’re tired. But that, dear Shelly, is where our friend Jesus comes in. In fact, He’s never left, and continues to encourage and sustain and cheer us on till the end. As I read my journal from the trip and wrote about my experiences in some semblance of order, I was amazed at how my Friend had never left me, about how He helped me till I persevered to the top, back down again, and eventually all the way home. He was more than a Friend, but my Good Shepherd who winnowed my path, guided my steps, and held me up. I came to visualize my walking stick as His Shepherd’s staff on which I leant. And as the Psalm says, He did not “let my foot slip.” He kept me safe. I never have felt so close to Him. When we persevere, we realize we do not do it in our own strength, but His. Perseverance rewards us with the very Presence of God. Perseverance has a reward, and it’s nearness to the very God who asks us to do it, and who strengthens us to be able to. Congratulations about having your essay published!! The book sounds wonderful. I’ve always loved Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, and it will be fascinating to read examples today about how he is still a blessing to those who also want to give their utmost to God’s glory. His words were some which encouraged me to say yes to Iona when I was fearful. On June 18, Chambers writes about Peter’s fear of walking on the water to Jesus. When he saw that the waves were boisterous, he was afraid. So was I (and I did encounter some very boisterous waves). Initially, though I fought it and tried to deny I’d heard God’s call to Iona, I knew He had given it, and I had to persevere and go. Chambers’ wisdom spoke to me: “If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say–‘Well, I wonder if He did speak?’ Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You only recognize His voice more clearly by recklessness.” And you only persevere by recklessness too.
My pleasure to share on SM!
He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” From Job 1 This helps me keep life in perspective and reminds me to focus on my purpose, blessing Him and being blessed in Him.
We have just returned to the States from our place of serving overseas and I am bone weary, and we have so much in front of us. But God keeps gently reminding me that my first priority is to Be Still in His Presence! And He will take care of the details! And yet that’s so hard to do when you see the amount of funding you need to raise or the friends and family you so desperately want to just go be with. Thank you Shelly for your weekly emails they are such an encouragement to me and remind me where my focus needs to be! I keep your book close and read it often as well as His Utmost for My Highest!
How has God been a friend to you this week?
He has been a friend by raising up the people in my life to be ‘friendly’ to me. It has been a “hard” season for me. I feel like a hamster in a wheel, as I struggle being a working, mom/pastor’s wife/ministry partner/daughter/sister etc. God showed me that He is always near to the brokenhearted (me) in the midst of pain and chaos. My husband (out of nowhere) just wanted to talk to me yesterday and he was a real friend by listening to me pour my heart out. My youngest daughter, told me THANK YOU for a random mom task and gave me a heartfelt hug while doing it. My friend in another state called me and allowed me to vent and we both shared struggles that reminded me that I am not alone in the painful, hard seasons of life. Jesus loves me…THIS I know!
I’ve been meditating on Ephesians 3:14-21 recently and especially noticing how what Paul is praying is all about being for us believers and acknowledging that all the doing belongs to God. That is so opposite of how we often approach the Christian life and I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to really impress upon my heart the truth that I am called the be and to know and trust that God is acting on my behalf and for my good.
There are two chapters in the book of Matthew that I’ve been meditating on in my Quiet Time each morning for the past couple of months. Chapters five and six: The Sermon on the Mount. Chapter 7:27 completes the Sermon, but I haven’t gotten that far. At first, I was feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but, after a few weeks, it became a beat-up-myself time each day! Finally, as I researched what the word “treasure” really meant, I ran across a sermon that had been preached many years ago.
I was vey encouraged to learn a general meaning for the whole Sermon on the Mount: Jesus is trying to teach us how we should be doing righteous acts for God out of our love and reverence for Him, taking our eyes off ourselves as we realize how much our Father loves us. He will reward us “in secret,” so whatever we do, we do for His glory, not our own glory.
Of course, all of these verses refer to our works for God. But it goes deeper than that! Jesus speaks to our heart attitudes and calls us to always keep whatever we do simple and God-focused.
Now, I do Sabbath every day, because I have late-stage Lyme disease and struggle with new symptoms all the time, the latest being MS-type. I rarely get out, yet my heart has been drawn closer to the Father’s each day, particularly the past three years when I surrendered my dreams that might never come true to God’s bigger dreams for me. And He has put a call in my heart to PRAY, to ENCOURAGE.
In order to do both of those well, I MUST have Sabbath rest nearly every day! So, each morning, I watch the little, wild finches that I fill up feeders for and spread seed on the grass for. These common, little birds fill me with JOY, which is something I search for every day. It’s also very restful to eat my breakfast, watch thr birds eat (I also have four hummingbird feeders), and spend quiet hours soaking up His Word.
I’m extremely grateful for your blog and weekly email. I am encouraged as I read of new, creative ways to find Sabbath rest every day in small ways, beyond what I find and do. The words you share from those in the Sabbath Society help me, as well, since these women who are extremely busy in many cases, share their wisdom about how they keep their own Sabbaths.
I read/used My Utmost for His Highest several years ago and I know it did impact me. Can’t say what specifically. I can still recall the feeling as I curled up with it in my reading chair. Thank you for the chance to win.
God has been a friend to me this week, by answering a prayer to remind me in such a tangible way that I am loved, known, and seen. And it is in those small, but life-changing moments, that my faith truly grows.
God has been a dri me to me because He walked through with me. He is the God of “through.” I have had some challenges, but I know I am not alone and it is for my good so I findbHis peace and His joy. Not happens, but deep p ace. He is with me…..Emmanuel.
Romans 8:32 is speaking to me now. “He who did not spare his own Son But Gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things.” Life has been hard these past few years and keeps getting worse and worse each year, no matter what I do to improve it. This verse helps me remember that God will be faithful and bring me out of this season because He sent Jesus to the cross for me. Because God did that, I can trust Him.
Oh my! No joke, just this past week I wrote and journaled over Psalm 46:10 and here it connects with exactly what you’re saying. And even more so, I’ve been doing some deeper writing and one of the questions I’ve been processing is what happens in us when we start to forget His truth—when we feel like our linds and hearts are disconnected from God? And to hear you echo what has been on my heart is even more so encouraging of how much God is in the details. My answer is similar to what you say here abouy looking to ourselves more so than looking to Christ. ♥️ And how wonderful for your publication!!
…Passing through a season of loneliness in my marriage, friendships changing as my kids head off to college after 20 years of homeschooling, and entering full time work at age 60…the Lord keeps bringing me sweetly back to Psalm 62:8. “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart to Him; God is a refuge for us.” Have been reading Oswald Chambers for 30 years and am deeply comforted again by the words of Sept 22…”God alone fathoms the remotest abyss of my heart and satisfies it.” He is the Friend who never leaves me…no matter how unlovely I am…
Hebrews 10:35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. NAS. I have struggled in my purpose and have felt I am not good enough and I don’t have what it takes. God has reminded me to push through the doubts and trust Him. IAM so thankful for Biddy, Oswald’s wife for sharing her husband’s gifts to others. We must do the same. I rest in Him not just on the Sabbath but everyday and I persevere though the doubts and my insecurities. Thank you for your encouragement. I hope one day I could join sit with you over tea or coffee and share our lives. Wouldn’t that be great if we as His people spent more time resting and reflecting? I think we would have the energy to accomplish His purposes. Thank you Shelly. You bless me weekly.
My rest comes in the morning. I have to wait for an hour to eat after taking a certain medicine. I pray and rest as I wake up. We have been studying the miracles God did in Egypt, the red sea, and his provision in the desert. I have come to love Moses through this experience. But most importantly I see God as so mighty, so gracious and that He delights for us to trust Him.
There is nowhere we can turn where God isn’t there before us. To this I cling.
Thank you Shelly for reminding us of His love and rest every week!
I was gifted and Oswald Chambers my most for his highest devotional from a friend that found it at a used bookstore after I had mentioned wanting to find one. Talk about a blessed friendship we have! I tried to read a sample of it when I was a baby Christian, but it did not seem to resignation with me. But now with almost 15 years as a Christian I am able to grasp the concepts much better! Just as a baby Christian I couldn’t grasp God’s love as much as I do today. Thank you for your ministry and the chance to win Oswald chambers works!
Interesting Question: How has God been a friend t me this week? After attending my fourth funeral in a span of two months, for friends and relatives who lived long lives and others who died unexpectedly God is a friend to me, letting me cry and rage at the life cut short (according to man’s standards), reminding me of His grace in the live well lived and comforting me with the Hope, the truth that I will see these people again!
How has God been my friend this week? I attended my first writers’ conference in Mason, OH, November 2-4. There I met other writers, some already published, others not. Lots of networking took place, but the friendliness, smiles, and encouragement were Spirit-inspired–not put on for the purpose of making contacts. Everyone was eager to help each other, too. The biggest blessing came when another blogger and I met face-to-face after a four-year internet friendship. Our dearest Friend was with us in our hug-greeting!
God has been a friend this week by giving me hope. Our adult children are doing well after many years of transition and I’m going through another “empty nest” time in my life. It’s a new season of waiting and listening for God’s direction in my life.
” leave the consequences of your obedience up to God.” This nugget of truth from Oswald Chambers has been helpful time and time again.
Thankful for God’s frienship this week at a fall retreat. When my heart was aching, he whispered words of affirmation and encouragement with a simple ” you did good sweetie” into my heart. ??
Recently I tackeled a diffucult and dry patch in our garden that always weighed my heart down.
I cleared it, intalled a birdfeeder, a birdbath, stepping stones and started to plant greenery.
Birds started to visit the patch and it was as if new life was breathed into my life.
Hearing and seeing different birds is really experiencing the presence of God in my life!
I received my first copy of Oswald’s work for my high school graduation. It took me several years to appreciate the wisdom. With time and maturity, my deep appreciation for this book has grown. I’m so grateful for you!
God shows his friendship to me through the beauty of nature and the kindness of his people.