I challenged myself to pull an old book off my shelf and try it again. I had read it before, but it didn’t stick. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It was the book “Not I, But Christ,” by Stephen Olford.
Stephen Olford is one that I genuinely to be a saint. He may not be as well known as Billy Graham, but his impact on the world was equal. Reading the book made me feel like this was a man who had a grasp on a deep spiritual truth and he was trying his best to communicate it. The difficult part was that it was a paradox, a seeming contradiction. I got kept getting stuck on the contradiction and struggled to reach the truth.
Olford was deeply rooted in the Holiness movement which worked to diminish the self and emphasize Christ. It is, as I understand it, the antonym of Humanism. This was one of the hang ups that I had to get over. I am deeply rooted in humanistic thinking and didn’t even know it. My foundation of humanistic thinking could not let go of my self as the center of everything. I kept reading all of the language that diminished the self as the dissolving of self. This would bring my acceptance to a screeching halt. I could not believe that God would make us unique and give us special gifts, just to have us return them to him. That didn’t make sense.
I stuck with the book and finally got a an analogy that I could sink my teeth into. Olford gave an example of a surgeon. In the operating room, the operating nurses were so in tune with the doctor that they could anticipate his every move. The nurses were operating on their own accord. They did not dissolve and just become mindless expressions of the doctor. They had their own will, their own gifts, but they were working wholly for the success of the doctor. The success of the doctor means the life of the patient.
I finally figured out that the Spirit does not dissolve the self. By grace, we learn the rhythm of God and through trials and tribulations we tune the instrument of our heart. We learn to step with God, anticipate his moves. He moves, we move. He speaks, we speak. We become the hands, the feet, the mouth of God. We become the body of Christ.