“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…” – Hebrews 12:1-2a
The following is a cool story; especially for a Sunday morning. It’s about a deeply meaningful gift I received from my dad, a gift that’s loaded with history, with faith, and then bumping up against that Great Cloud of Witnesses.… “Hi there, Grandpa Fred Maul, auntie Margaret, cousin Linda….”
When I unwrapped the small box, it contained a hardcover book, covered carefully in brown wrapping paper. “The brown paper was dad’s trademark,” my dad said.
The well-worn volume is a 63-year-old copy of Oswald Chambers’ seminal work, My Utmost For His Highest (1927). The devotional classic arrived in my hands through a remarkable chain of provenance. Here’s how the inside cover reads, in calendar sequence:
- “Margaret C. Maul. September 1952. bought with 21st birthday money.”
- “To Dad, with much love. April 15th, 1958.”
- “Passed to David from Dad’s Estate, July 1983.”
- “To Derek. With much love. Dad. Christmas 2015.”
Margaret purchased the book in 1952, then gave it to her dad – my grandfather – in 1958 (he applied the brown paper cover). My dad received the book when grandpa Maul died in 1983. Now my dad has given it to me.
Auntie Margaret was one of my dad’s three sisters. She went to (then) Rhodesia as a missionary, married Methodist minister John Salmon, and had four extremely cool children (Peter, Graham, Linda, and Allison). Margaret died of cancer in her forties; my cousin Linda died of the same variety of cancer just a few years ago.
Margaret was one of those people who lived her faith out loud, with winsome clarity, and with a passion that is too rarely seen. Her daughter Linda had the same beautiful spirit; it’s the kind of living testimony Rebekah and I pray, daily, that we model with some measure of eloquence in the way that we follow Jesus.
This is the substance of the message Oswald Chambers articulates so well in My Utmost For His Highest. And that’s why I feel so privileged to be the latest steward in the chain of custody for my aunt’s 1951 edition (the 18th printing since the book was first published).
I’ll share a secret with you. If any of my books even scratch the surface of the effectiveness of this Chambers classic, and if I inspire even a handful of people to practice lives of more intentionally applied faith, then I will be satisfied that I have done some good service for the Kingdom of God.
In the service of the Savior; pleased to channel some Oswald Chambers – DEREK
I am – and will remain – a Pilgrim in Progress