“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”
One hundred years after his death, Oswald Chambers’ devotional classic My Utmost for His Highest has been translated into 39 languages and never gone out of print. The book is in the form of daily devotional readings, with a page for each day of the year. Gertrude “Biddy” Chambers, Oswald’s wife, compiled the book from her husband’s sermons and writings.
“Don’t forget to pray today because God did not forget to wake you up this morning.”
Oswald Chambers was born in 1874 in Scotland, the youngest son of a Baptist minister. His family moved to London when he was 15, and shortly afterward Chambers publicly professed his faith in Christ and became a member of a local Baptist church. “This marked a period of rapid spiritual growth, along with an intense struggle to find God’s will and way for his life.” (Utmost.org)
“Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking.”
Oswald Chambers had a gift for art, and trained for a time at London’s Royal Academy of Art and then at Edinburgh University. While there, he felt a call to ministry, and left to attend Dunoon College, a small theological training school in Scotland. Soon he began teaching at the school, an area in which he also excelled. Chambers traveled to Japan and the United States, working with various Holiness missionaries and ministries.
“We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God’s power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us.”
In 1910, Chambers married Gertrude Hobbs, and they had a daughter in 1913. In the meantime, Chambers founded and was principal of the Bible Training College in Clapham, Greater London. During the four years Chambers served at the College, it was open to students of all ages, educational levels, and classes.
“In is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God: but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.”
“Spiritual grit is what we need.”
After World War I broke out, Chambers suspended the college’s operation, and volunteered as a YMCA chaplain. He ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops in Egypt. “Soon his wooden framed ‘hut’ was packed with hundreds of soldiers listening attentively to messages such as ‘What Is the Good of Prayer?’” (Wikipedia) Chambers died in Egypt in 1917, as a result of complications from appendicitis. He was 43.
“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and then the saint says – ‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’”
Chambers was not well known during his lifetime. As he once told a friend, “I feel I shall be buried for a time, hidden away in obscurity; then suddenly I shall flame out, do my work, and be gone.” In fact, much of the reason he is known at all today is because of his wife. Biddy Chambers was an incredible secretary and an expert in shorthand. After Chambers’ death, at the urging of friends, she began to sort through the thousands of pages of notes she took on his speeches, sermons, and classroom lectures.
These words of Oswald Chambers were compiled into several books, including My Utmost for His Highest. In the forward to the original edition, Biddy wrote “It is because it is felt that the author is one to whose teaching men will return, that this book has been prepared, and it is sent out with the prayer that day by day the messages may continue to bring the quickening life and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
Every age has its strengths and weaknesses. If the only things I read are written by current authors, it’s easy to forget that my views and assumptions are shaped by my era in ways I don’t even realize. Just as it’s good to read authors from other countries and cultures, it is also good to read those from other historic eras and cultures. God worked then, too. Oswald Chambers is one of many proofs of this, and well worth a look.