July 27, 2011

Oswald Chambers

I tried to keep this post short but it was just impossible!...you don't come across to many people like Oswald Chambers. This biography, "Abandoned to God" by David McCasland, is a perfect title to describe the life of this man. I thought I'd share just a few things from the book that touched me.

A turning point in his life was when he was at a gathering where Hudson Taylor was speaking. Chambers writes in a letter to a friend:

"Hudson Taylor said last night that Our Lord's words 'Have faith in God' really mean 'Have faith in the faithfulness of God,' not in your own faithfulness. I am completely at rest now,...I feel God nearer to me than ever. I will wait on Him and He will open the way."

I love Chambers outlook on prayer, it has changed not only the way I think of prayer but the way I actually pray. Here's an excerpt:

"The purpose of prayer, in Chambers' mind, was to get into step with God, not to manipulate or coerce Him into blessing personal plans. He told his theology students in Cincinnati, 'Prayer is not a preparation for work, it is work. Prayer is not a preparation for the battle, it is the battle. Prayer is two-fold: definite asking and definite waiting to receive." 

And Chambers says of prayer here:

"Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness, with God. If the son of God has been formed in us through regeneration (Galatians 4:19) then He will continue to press on beyond our common sense and will change our attitudes about the things for which we pray."

In a letter to his sister he writes of his love of reading and books...something I can relate to and feel the same way!

"I have been having a reveling few days. My box has at last arrived. My books! I cannot tell you what they are to me-silent, wealthy, loyal lovers. To look at them, to handle them, and to re-read them! I do thank God for my books with every fibre of my being. Friends that are ever true and ever your own.

Why, I could have almost cried for excess of joy when I got hold of them again. I see them all just at my elbow now-Plato, Wordsworth, Myers, Bradley, Halyburton, St. Augustine, Browning, Tennyson, Amiel, etc. I know them, I wish you could see how they look at me, a quiet calm look of certain acquaintance."

Chambers kept a diary, here is an entry to ponder:

"I am more and more convinced that the personality of Jesus Christ is the Truth, and anything about Him that does not lead to Him is not the truth."

In a letter to encourage a bible student in answering questions about God he said:

"Be very patient and very confident in Him...God is not a fact of common sense but of revelation. Tell him God lives-evidenced to your heart when you abandoned your right to yourself and let Him take the rule."

Chambers strongly took the words of Christ literally. This brought criticism from family and friends. He believed when Jesus said, 'Give to everyone who asks' that He meant exactly that. This story tells of this faith:

"One evening, walking back to his lodgings after conducting a League meeting, he was accousted by a drunken man asking for money. Chambers listened intently to the man's story, then told him, 'Man, I believe your story is all lies, but my Master tells me to give to everyone that asks, so there is my last shilling.' After putting the coin into the man's hand, Chambers noticed that it was not a shilling but half a crown worth two and a half times more. It didn't matter. 'there you are' he told the man, 'the Lord bless you.' 

When Oswald's hostess heard this story, she chided him for being foolish.

'I believe beggars are sent to test our faith.' Chambers replied earnestly. 'My duty is plain-to obey the command of God and give to everyone that asks. What the recipient may do with it is not my concern.' As the woman shook her head in disbelief, Oswald added with a twinkle, 'Besides, the Lord always gives double for all I give away.' The next morning Chambers received a letter enclosing a gift from a person who was bedridden and could not come to hear him preach. The gift was three times what he had given the drunken man the night before."

In a letter from Ireland, to his soon to be wife, Biddy, he writes of the worldly compliance of the Christians there:

"There are aching lives here and He is working. Last night we had a glorious 'clash.' They did not know Him and I did. I told them that I know nothing of God apart from Jesus Christ. He was God to me; apart from Him, God was a mere mental abstraction. The hearts of these people are hungry, but their intellects seem satisfied with the worship of abstraction which is so modern, and to me so absurdly insufficient."

Chambers longed for one thing from his preaching:

"I speak and people get blessed. But I long to hear them say, 'He made me love Him better. It was through his sermon that my Lord Jesus became all in all to me.'"

I believe his longings were fulfilled, over and over again. :)

Chambers loved the ocean, he reflected on it in this way:

"In it all, he saw a picture of life. no matter how strong the winds or how high the waves on the surface, far below lay the great mysterious deeps with their strong currents and untouched calm. A man who would live for Christ in a turbulent world must draw his life from the depths of God himself, not from the froth and foam of surface experience."

Chambers loved children:

"Oswald's relationship with children is one of the most revealing aspects of his character. In a day when society believed they were to be 'seen and not heard,' he listened to them, loved them, and gave them a place of honor. Had he wished to be alone and undisturbed to prepare his messages, his host families would have made sure the children never bothered him. Instead, he sought them out."

When his own daughter was born:

"Oswald was ecstatic. His previous love for children offered no preparation for the feelings he had for this small person who was a miraculous combination of himself and the woman he loved."

The last part of his life, was spent in Egypt during World War I. He worked for the Y.M.C.A. an organization which looked very different back then:

"But the Y.M.C.A. had a deeper motive than mere social service. Its three-fold emphasis of Body, Mind, and Spirit was centered on bringing men to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. From its beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the Young Men's Christian Association firmly held a two-fold purpose:
'To unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God and Savior according to the Holy Scripture, desire to be His disciples in their doctrine and in their life, and to associate their efforts for the extension of His Kingdom among young men.(Y.M.C.A. Paris Resolution, 1855)"

Chambers took this statement of faith seriously and led many men to Christ.

After serving here for several years Chambers became ill and had an emergency appendectomy which they thought was successful. But because he waited so long to go to the hospital (he didn't want to take a bed from a soldier) he suffered complications and succumb to them and passed away several days later. He was 43.

The announcement of his death read.. 'OSWALD IN HIS PRESENCE'

His wife Biddy wrote to her sister after his death:

"Living with Oswald and seeing his faith in God and knowing that 'by his faithfulness he is speaking to us still' is the secret of life these days, and I feel as if it will be overwhelming to one day see what God has wrought, and one will only be sorry not to have trusted more utterly. So just go on praying and believing and we will surely find that God is doing His wondrous things all the time."

Biddy went on to spend the next years of her life recording Chambers sermons into books. The most famous being 'His Utmost for His Highest' which is a compilation from many different sermons:

"She needed 365 portions, each on a single theme, each complete in itself and not more than 500 words long. Before she could make the selections, there were hundreds of talks she must transform from verbatim shorthand notes into typed copy...

After nearly three years of painstaking work in moments stolen from her lodging-house duties, Biddy had compiled the book of daily readings. There seemed only one title appropriate for it, one of Oswald's most repeated watchwords-My Utmost for His Hightest...

Nowhere in the book did it mention her name or her work of taking shorthand notes, typing the talks, and often merging paragraphs from three different messages into a coherent reading for a single day. Without her work, Oswald's words would never have existed on paper or in published form. Even so, she put Oswald's name on the cover. she was herself as a channel through which his words conveyed to others. That was her way...

Before she died in 1966, fifty books bearing her husband's name had been published, along with scores of booklets, seed thought calenders, and leaflet sermons. Every morning, people around the world opened a small book they called My Utmost for His Highest to help set their sights on God for that day."

I can't tell you what a blessing this book, My Utmost for His Highest,  has been to me. God had a plan and he always goes through with his plans. :) In Chambers words:

"In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance."

There is so much more I'd love to share. If you would like to get to know about Oswald Chambers...this is a great book to start with. I'll leave with one of my favorite encouraging quotes from him:

"You can be much more for Him than ever you know by just being yourself and relying on Him...keep praying and playing and being yourself."


  1. Cathy, thank you so much for sharing this! Until yesterday, I hadn't heard of Oswald Chambers. Rebecca St. James posted a link to one of his devotionals on her facebook wall. Now today, I check your blog, and here is more about Oswald Chambers. I think I NEED to read this now! What you've shared is fascinating; thank you!

    Sweet Blessings,

  2. Wow that's awesome! Oswald Chambers has been such an inspiration to me and I am one of many who have come to love God more through his words. I'm also thankful for his wife's great work in getting his sermons into print.
    I'll have to check out Rebecca's link!

  3. Great blog, Cathy! I'm following. Are you on Goodreads or Twitter? I also love some of the books you've read and admire Oswald Chambers. I'm glad you visited me at Doorkeeper. Blessings!

  4. Renee- I am on goodreads. I'll have a look for you and add you as a friend. Glad you stopped by and are following. :)

  5. Hi Cathy,
    Nice to meet you! You have a wonderful blog
    here, and Oswald,just love Oswald(and his wife too! THANK GOD for BIDDY)! Great job on the post! And thank you too!! ;-D
    I shall be looking forward to visiting here often!
    Many Blessings and Hugs, Linnie

  6. Thanks Linnie! Its nice to meet you too and glad you stopped by and followed! :)

  7. Hi Cathy--returning your visit (BEAUTIFUL blog by the way!)I love the old world photos, and the post...takes me right to the time of Paul and the Apostles.
    Ran into a glitch--wanted to become a follower, but it wouldn't accept my password for some reason. Will try again another time. I use blogger too, and have a google account, so I don't know what's going on.

  8. O.K. I just became a follower; I think I had to post a comment first...?

  9. Thanks Pat! Glad it finally worked, not quite sure why it didn't at first. Glad you came by and followed. :)


Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. I try to respond to all of them by the end of the week. : )

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