Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Other Book

While the one book which has influenced me more than any others is the Bible, the other book in my life is one written in the late 1920s. I was pointed to it by a young woman at Asbury College who would later become my wife. I have gone through more than one copy of it over the years, and like the Scripture, it has never been far from my side. It has been my mainstay for daily devotions for the past 40 years. I have used other things, but those things have always been used in addition to My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Actually, the book was written by his widow who went through her husband's talks and writings and compiled this daily devotional reading some ten years after his death. Known as "Biddy" this woman worked to see 50 books published bearing her husband's name. In none of them does she give herself any credit for anything written.
I could not possibly count the folks I have pointed to Oswald Chambers. Like the scritpure, My Utmost for His Highest, has undergirded and nurtured my spiritual journey. It has shaped my theology, my preaching, and my heart. While there are many more contemporary devotional volumes out there on the market, Chamber's writing continues to enjoy popularity and wide readership. For me the value of books has always been connected to the way they stand the test of time. Will it have fleeting popularity, or will it still be read long after all the news releases have disappeared? With this in view, it would probably surprise no one to know that books like The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, Practicing the Presence by Brother Andrew, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and anything written by C.S. Lewis or Henri Nouwen, two more recent writers, are high on my list of "must reads for every believer."
Of course, having something that will be used for devotional readings is far more important than having something because someone else does and then never reading it. We all find different writings helpful in our spiritual journey. I have many different devotional guides on the shelf, some have been used and some have hardly been opened. The last one I would let go would be My Utmost for His Highest. What would you hang on to the longest?


Kristin said...

The devotion book I seem to come back to time and time again...is My Utmost for His Highest...the copy you gave me as I started my ministry at Richmond Hill United Methodist Church five years ago. Thank you for blessing me so abundantly with this beautiful gift that I will cling to for decades to come. Know I miss you all greatly...it brings tears to my eyes to write this. Love, Kristin

dawnp said...

I started reading "My Utmost for His Highest" a little over a year ago. Much of it I didn't understand and the parts that I did understand, I didn't like. Reading ths book has forced me to look at how I was living spiritualy and I had to admit to myself how unhappy I was. Reaching for the goal of a deeper life with Jesus seemed way beyond anything I could hope for,but I was determined let God show me my life through His eyes which is not always(ever) pretty, but it is the truth. With this book and my bible I know that I want to live each day devoted and abandoned to Jesus even in the middle of struggling with my sinful nature. I too have and have read other devotional books, but none of them are able to speak to me the truth that I need to hear. So I come back to this as my daily guide to living a life that I am hoping will bring glory to God.