Irreparable and Irresistible! Thoughts on Oswald Chambers, Flannel, and 1994
“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” – Philippians 3:13
There is something beautiful and poetic about being eighteen. I remember spending the entire Saturday of December 31, 1994 sitting on the floor in my grandmother’s living room by the warm fireplace and reading a rather obscure pocket-sized paperback written by Peter and Barbara Jenkins titled “The Road Unseen.” The book is about the Jenkins’ journey as they walked across America (along with their coinciding spiritual journey). Periodically I would break from my reading, throw on a flannel shirt, and ride my bike down the chilly streets of Albertville, Alabama. That weekend, I seemed like I went through a pound of hot Chocolate and wore out my Neil Young mix tape in my Walkman (I guess I have always had a little bit of a hippie side).
That night as I flipped through the rolodex of my mind on 1994 (the only year that would ever contain the bookends of both high school and college) it really wasn’t Peter and Barbara’s 239 page book that resonated with me. Rather, it was a simple one page journal entry in the back of Oswald Chambers’ classic devotional book “My Utmost For His Highest.” In fact, it was the last sentence of the journal entry (the last sentence of the book). It simply said, “Leave the irreparable past in His hands and step out into the irresistible future with Him.” As I read those words, it was as if the Lord pulled the string on the light of my heart. I had an unbridled sense of hope the future. I felt that there was something beautiful in leaving behind the past and finding joy in the future. In that moment, that profound statement encouraged me. It was most certainly an appropriate closing sentence to a yearly 365 day devotional.
Oswald Chambers was a fascinating man. Yet his life was rather brief. He was born in 1874 and died in 1917 at the young age of 43. Because of this, the majority of his writings that we are familiar with today were edited posthumously by his wife Gertrude Chambers. In the years following Oswald’s death, Gertrude compiled over thirty books based upon the lectures he taught to his students and the sermons he preached as a chaplain. And obviously, “My Utmost for his Highest” is his best known work, a book which (as of 2014) has been translated into 39 different languages.
And so as we close out another year, let us consider the truth of OC’s closing statement… “Leave the irreparable past in His hands and step out into the irresistible future with Him…” All of our lives are laced with past regrets and chapters we wish we could remove from the binding of our life story. Yet we must realize that our past is the past, and it is “in the books” so to speak. In His sovereignty, God has permitted past failures to draw us into deeper fellowship with Him in the present and future. What a thought to ponder as we close out one year and ring in another!
Maybe you are struggling with yesterday’s failures. If so, do not let them hinder your tomorrow! Leave your past regrets in the bosom of Christ, and walk into the irresistible future with Him! I pray this simple sentence encourages your heart this New Years. I wish you and your family a wonderful New Year. May God be glorified in all things!
– Pastor Eric