I mentioned before that I have been reading “My Utmost for His Highest” for my morning devotions. At one point I got curious about the author, Oswald Chambers, and looked him up on Wikipedia. From that I found that he died from appendicitis when he was only 43 years old. In fact, he didn’t write “My Utmost for His Highest” – his wife compiled it from his sermons after he died. My curiosity piqued, I looked for biographies on Oswald Chambers and found one to read: “Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God” by David McCasland.
Oswald Chambers grew up in a religious household. His father was a pastor and Oswald felt a call to ministry when he was in college. He abandoned a career in art and enrolled in seminary in Scotland. While in seminary he became a part of the Holiness movement, a parachurch movement defined by living a perfect life through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Chambers became an itinerant preacher, leading many camp meetings and revivals throughout the world.
Chambers married when he was in his 30’s and continued to preach and teach across denominational lines. He was “employed” by the League of Prayer and recognized as a speaker of exceptional power. His wife, Gertrude, took shorthand at a speed of 250 words per minute and wrote down all of his sermons and lessons. When World War I started, Chambers was sent by the YMCA, the group charged with the social and moral development of soldiers, to Egypt. There he came in contact with thousands of soldiers from the UK fighting in Africa. He brought many of them to faith in Christ and taught them how to live as Christians. Gertrude, and their only child Kathleen, were partners in this work.
When Chambers came down with appendicitis, he didn’t want to take up medical resources needed by soldiers in battle. So he delayed going to the hospital until he was delirious. Although his ruptured appendix was removed, he died a few days after surgery.
Gertrude made it her life’s work to publish Oswald Chambers’ sermons and lessons. She compiled the devotions in “My Utmost for His Highest” but never put her name on anything. Today he is remembered primarily because of her work.
The thing I found most fascinating about Chambers was his refusal to take a salary of any kind. He always insisted that God would provide and he never worried about where his next meal or any money was coming from. Chambers trusted God for everything, even money for a train ticket. Although the organizations he worked for supported his work, they never paid him a salary. I don’t think I could live like that. I would consider it irresponsible. And yet – is it a sign that I don’t trust God enough?
Oswald Chambers definitely lived his life “abandoned to God.” He gave his utmost and received from God everything he needed. His life is an example – and a lesson – to us all.