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Reading My Utmost for His Highest with a Guide (Part II)

guideFor all of you who have trouble understanding the daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest, there’s a guide out there to help.

Dr. Jed and Dr. Cecilie Macosko have written A Daily Companion to My Utmost for His Highest, published by Discovery House in fall 2014.

I wrote about the impetus for the book in Part I. Today’s post, Part II, is about putting the book together and its affect on them.

Jed is a physics professor; Cecilie is a family doctor. They have five young children.

How did they find the time not only to read and understand all of Oswald Chambers‘ devotionals, but to write about them with insight and to guide readers?

By working together.

“Working together was a lot of fun! We have very different skills when it comes to writing something like this, so we just did what we were good at doing. The result was better than what either one of us could have done on his/her own.”

They wrote the more than 150,000 word book (the average novel is 75,000 words long) over a six-month period in 2013.

Jed noted, “by the time we finished this book, we both felt, in some ways, like we had been run over by a steam-roller. This feeling has stuck with us, even more than a year later and has definitely changed our outlook on life.”

Anyone who spends much time reflecting on My Utmost for his Highest understands the formidable “bar” Oswald Chambers raises to living a Christian life. It’s exciting and enormous, but also satisfying–when it’s not challenging your way of life. The devotional is designed to provoke a response and a regular examination of the state of your soul.

Changing your life

Jed described the effect of a deep study of Chambers’ writings:

“The hardest part in writing A Daily Companion was encountering the truths in Utmost first hand on a near-daily basis. It was different than just reading Utmost and experiencing what it says.

“Reading Utmost is like flipping on a light switch in a dark room. The effect is illuminating. Flipping the same switch if you are holding the circuitry in your hand is a completely different feeling, and the results are often heart stopping and painful.”

Their primary sources were three-fold: My Utmost for His Highest itself, The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (on PDF, which made it searchable. My copy of the bulky book is 1492 pages long!) and David McCasland’s terrific Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God.

Guide: Jed and Cecilie Macosko

Jed and Cecilie Macosko

“We had to read and reread David McCasland’s excellent biography and had to search it constantly (thank you, Kindle!) for the stories that we remembered but needed to put in context.

We also had to deeply understand each day’s reading in Utmost. When a daily reading in Utmost was excerpted from a longer sermon found in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, we had to deeply understand that longer sermon, too.

“Indeed, Biddy often constructed a daily reading from several different sermons. We had to try to understand each of those sermons as well as the connections between them that Biddy had seen.”

Painstaking work

It was painstaking work that included visiting newspapers archived on the Internet–all of which would have been at least 100 years old–to track down the sources for some of Oswald’s ideas.

They also needed to get a grasp of the man himself–what interested him, where the ideas that made up the devotionals came from.

As Jed explained, “reading The Complete Works really gave us a better understanding of Oswald’s point of view.

Though most people only know Utmost, Oswald and Biddy certainly gave the world many other useful treasures.”

He and I both highly recommend McCasland’s biography as the most readable source of information about Oswald and Biddy.

But it all comes back to that devotional, to give our utmost effort for God’s highest good, “we have to clear our calendars, from this very day until the day we die, for whatever Jesus wants for us,” Jed said.

And what would that be?

“Jesus wants for us, first and foremost, to spend quality time with Him–getting to know Him and learning to listen to Him. Oswald called this time “soaking.”

“We all need some soaking time. If we don’t “abandon” ourselves and our calendars to God, then God will likely send a crisis to get our attention.

“Or, worse yet, He might let us go our own way until we sense the loneliness of Him not being near us.

“It’s a choice that God holds out to us every day, no matter how many times we have said “No” or said “Yes” to Him. Every day is our choice: will we give our utmost to His Highest, or not?”

You don’t need to be a fan of My Utmost for His Highest, to understand that important truth.

Guide Utmost: Unforgetable books

This is the 1982 paperback Barbour edition I’ve used for many years.

 

Tweetables

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