What do you do when you are spiritually dry? Worn out? The Word is our fountain in times of spiritual thirst, but there are also devotional readings that can aid in our refreshment. Taking a break from Romans this past Wednesday night, we spent a little time talking about two prominent figures in recent church history: Charles Spurgeon and Oswald Chambers. Both men left us with a wealth of sermons and other writings which have in turn become daily devotional material for many believers.
The Prince of Preachers
Charles Hadden Spurgeon grew up under the wings of a strong Christian family in 19th century England. Despite his upbringing, young Charles was hesitant to embrace the faith of his parents. He wandered and strayed in his young teen years, not sure of the truth of God or His Word. By the age 16, Spurgeon had come to faith and had this to say:
“I must confess that I never would have been saved if I could have helped it. As long as ever I could, I rebelled, and revolted, and struggled against God. When He would have me pray, I would not pray, and when He would have me listen to the sound of the ministry, I would not. And when I heard, and the tear rolled down my cheek, I wiped it away and defied Him to melt my soul. But long before I began with Christ, He began with me.”
Spurgeon went on to become the “Prince of Preachers,” and once addressed an audience of 23,654 without a microphone or any mechanical amplification! It is said he spoke at a rate of 140 words per minute for a 40 minute sermon, with only one page of notes as his aid. He did not attend seminary nor have any other formal college training, yet he started his own college and was reported to read an average of 6 books a week with photographic memory of each one. Needless to say, God used Spurgeon in a mighty way, yet he still struggled with his faith in his teen years and later in life battled with heavy depression brought on by illness. His fountain certainly ran dry, but he trusted in God and His Word, and left us with a treasure chest of material inspired from His own spiritual journey with Christ.
On the Battle Front
Oswald Chambers was born in Scotland in 1874 to devout Baptist parents. He accepted Christ in His teen years after attending a service conducted by Charles Spurgeon. The story goes that as he and his father were walking home, the young Chambers admitted he would have become a Christian if they had given such an opportunity at the service. To this his father replied, “There is no better time than now.” After this experience, Chambers studied art and archeology and soon after had an experience of spiritual dryness. At this point in his life, the Bible was becoming “dull” and “uninteresting.” Finally, after four years of spiritual dryness, Chambers realized that he couldn’t make himself to be holy. Once he realized that the strength and peace he was looking for was Christ himself, Christ’s life in exchange for his sin, he experienced a spiritual renewal. He went on to travel the world, preaching and teaching and became a military chaplain during the onset of World War I. He fell ill during the war and refused a hospital bed in order that injured soldiers would be served. Chambers died three days later.
Chambers left us with writings, transcribed by his wife Biddy, which amount to the popular devotional My Utmost for His Highest. Chambers certainly led a devoted life, yet his spiritual dryness as a young man led him to write this to a friend, “I shall never go into the ministry until God takes me by the scruff of the neck and throws me in.” Of course, God did throw him in, but through His unwavering grace and perfect timing which led Chambers to eventually write, “Like a flash something happened inside me, and I saw that I had been wanting power in my own hand…The power and the tyranny of sin is gone and the radiant, unspeakable emancipation of the indwelling Christ has come.”
“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4.13-14 (ESV)
Certainly, Christ himself is our eternal fountain, refreshing us with the water of eternal life so that we no longer have to bear the deadness and dryness of this world. God also gave us faithful men and women in the body to speak words of wisdom and refreshment during specific times of spiritual thirst. God also sent us men like Charles Spurgeon and Oswald Chambers who left us devotional materials which arose out of their own walk with Christ. These men experienced what it was like to have times where God seemed absent and spiritual experiences were void. We can do much to learn from these men and more. Take a moment to have a devotional time, and have the writings of these men usher in deeper moments of connection with God. Without a doubt the Word is our final authority and guide, but take advantage of the numerous riches found in the lives and writings of God’s saints who have gone before us. Next week we will return with study in Romans with chapter 5. I pray you will find time to be in the Word, both in times of quietness with the Lord and as a family. Take care and have a great week in the Lord!
Peace in Him,