The Good Wife

Good morning all,

We’ve been enjoying a beautiful Autumn here Down Under. The mornings are getting a touch of ‘crisp’ in them, with none of the muggy heat that we’ve endured for months now.

I can sense the same thought process at our church lately, as we’ve begun a series on thriving and not just surviving………

And at the same time, I just finished reading a biography called “Mrs. Oswald Chambers, the Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional”.

Many of you who are reading this will immediately recognize the daily devotional book by Oswald Chambers called “My Utmost for His Highest”.

Tony and I have several copies of this and have read and marked our way thru the different versions over many years.  We particularly like his style, as it’s not ‘gentle’ or ‘condescending’ but continually calls us to live in Excellence for Christ, no matter the cost.

But do you want to know the ‘real story’?

Oswald was of English and Scottish descent, born in the late 1800’s where he grew up in a devout family who helped him have an intense dedication to the Lord’s work.  He was taken to see the great preacher-theologian Charles Spurgeon when he was a boy.  There, he gave his life to Christ, but came away underwhelmed and confused when all that the great man said to Oswald was “Look to Jesus”.

Later he came to understand that this one phrase was really the key to everything.

After university he married and soon moved to North Africa, taking his wife and young daughter to become a YMCA chaplain for the English and Australian armies, operating out of Cairo.

After several successful years, he came down with appendicitis and with barely a goodbye, there in a rudimentary military hospital in 1917, he abruptly died.  He was buried and mourned by all, but left a widow and small child behind with neither pension nor insurance.

Out of necessity, she returned to England, where she dedicated her life to recording his work, using the volumes of shorthand notes she had kept over the years of his daily sermons and teachings.

She and her daughter Kathleen took up residence in a borrowed back garden shed with no water or heat, (in England!) living on vegetables, eggs and anything else the landlord gave them. There they laughed and loved and typed.

Ten years after her husband’s death she managed to edit and compile 365 of his best works into a book she named “My Utmost for His Highest”.

However, not unlike today, she struggled to find a publisher who would risk the venture.  “Who would read something from a long dead author and certainly not every day?” they said.

Finally in desperation, and with a little help from a friend, she became the world’s first Self Published author and printed off 600 copies. She gave these away, and as word spread, sold enough to replenish her costs. Before she started though, she had vowed to herself never to use any money she made, but rather reinvest it in publishing more of his works.

Well, things went from that situation to today (with her moving into slightly better digs along the way) and from 1927 to the present, “My Utmost for His Highest” has never been out of print!

Mrs. Chambers could have just survived, given the circumstances, but instead, with God’s help, she chose to Thrive.  Her daughter later found written in her mother’s diary on one Christmas, “Dear Jesus, I give me to You.” She passed away on Jan 15th, 1966 at the age of 82. Her daughter Kathleen, who never married, was at her side, and then carried on the publishing business until she died on May 30, 1997 at age 84. Both felt extremely blessed by God.

I got so much encouragement out of this biography, I hope if nothing else, it will spark some interest in you. The book constantly reminds us that God is in control and, (at the risk of sounding trite) He has a plan for our lives. Tony said again in a sermon this morning, as long as you have a pulse, God has a job for you!

Getting excited as we prepare ourselves for Easter,

Marsha

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