“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”
― Oswald Chambers
Stirred to learn more about the man who wrote a book so influential in my walk with God, I recently devoted some time to studying the life of Oswald Chambers. A writer, preacher, and teacher from the twentieth century, Chambers is well known for his devotional book, “My Utmost For His Highest”. I was surprised to learn that Chambers was gifted in both art and music and studied art in London and Edinburgh.Though he was passionate about the arts, as a young man he decided to go into ministry, feeling strongly that God was calling him to Himself above anything else. Chambers wrote, “It takes me a long while to realize that God has no respect for anything I bring him. All he wants from me is unconditional surrender.”
How do we obey God’s calling for our lives in the particulars, especially related to individual giftings and vocations? This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I believe in the Great Commission and the general, wide-sweeping commandments in Scripture that apply to all followers of Christ, including loving God and others, sharing the Gospel, laying down our lives, and building the Kingdom of God. The Bible makes it clear that our purpose and identity comes from Christ, and serving and obeying and loving Him is what we were made for. 1 Corinthians 10:31 rings forever true: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Yet I often have the thought, “Am I where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to do right now?” Then comes the fear of fruitlessness and wasting time, and the doubts about God’s leading thus far. Have I really heard the voice of God in my decisions and made the right choices? Am I being led by my own desires, or am I truly letting myself be led by God? After I’ve worn myself out with worry and anxiety and overthinking, I remember God’s faithfulness and promises and acknowledge that He has led me every step of the way thus far.
A specific aspect of my life that makes me question these things is my profession. For as much of my life as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by medicine and the human body and science. As a teenager, I decided that I wanted to study to be a physician and that it was something I had to do as well as wanted to do. I believe that God laid it on my heart at an early age. Due to doubts that I could succeed as a physician, I completed nursing school and obtained a position as an emergency nurse in a hospital that I love. I adore many aspects of the profession, including caring for my patients, being their advocate, and spending time getting to know them. I work very closely with our emergency physicians, and over the past few years, I have developed friendships and learned invaluable lessons that have guided my nursing practice. I have much to thank them for, but I am especially grateful for the realization I had while working with them that I still want to be a physician. Even though nursing feels like a necessary step in my journey and a way that God has used me, I haven’t been able to shake the fact that I feel called to be a doctor.
What about when we want something so badly that we become single minded and have difficulty discerning God’s leading from our own wanting? When the internal drive to accomplish one’s biggest dreams and the fast, goal-oriented mindset of today’s “you can do it” culture makes us hold on a little too tightly? For me, it can become difficult to discern if truly sensed God calling me to medicine, especially given the many diverse interests and passions I have. I can serve God through medicine. I can serve Him through music, writing and art. There is no territory in my life that isn’t an avenue for glorifying Him through the pouring out of my giftings. But what about when going to medical school means that I’ll have to back-burner other talents and opportunities? The sacrifices I’ll have to make and No’s I’ll have to say lend a weight that makes me seriously consider whether this is where God is leading. If only there was a Litmus test to discern which desires and paths in life we should chase after and invest energy into!
In “My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is.”  I’ve realized that it’s not so much about becoming a doctor or following a specific path as it is about following God. The context of sacrifice shifts: instead of thinking about what I will sacrifice to pursue a profession or passion, I pray that I might surrender my own desires and agenda to the One who sacrificed for me first. He doesn’t just want a part of me. He doesn’t just want the good or the talented or the useful parts of me. Drawing close to the heart of God causes everything else to fall away until the focus of my attention is solely on Him.
- Christianity Today. Oswald Chambers: Preacher who gave his utmost. Retrieved from https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/innertravelers/oswald-chambers.html on 11/02/19.
- Chambers, O. (1963). My utmost for his highest. Barbour Books, Uhrichsville.
If you like this piece checkout: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/allowing-spirituality-to-shape-me-when-i-did-not-know-christ/