Monday, April 4, 2011

Oswald Chamber's Wife

There's an old saying that is very true. The saying is, "Behind every successful man is a good woman." That saying was never any more true than it was of Oswald Chambers. If you walk into just about any Christian bookstore in the world, you will find something that has Oswald Chambers as its author. His book, "My Utmost for His Highest," has become the best-selling devotional book in the world. And yet, if it had not been for his wife, Gertrude Chambers, very few people would even recognize the name of Oswald Chambers. Her name never appeared on any of the 50 books that bear the name of Oswald Chambers. But she is responsible for compiling all of them. In the foreword to "My Utmost for His Highest," she wrote about how the selections had come from various speaking engagements, yet she only signed with initials "B.C." Who was this remarkable woman who insisted on remaining entirely hidden behind the work of her husband?

Her maiden name was Gertrude Hobbs. But when she became Mrs. Oswald Chambers, for some reason, her husband began calling her "Biddy." Before the death of Oswald Chambers in 1917, a few of his sermons had been published. Some had been printed in booklets, but not a single book had gone to press.

Oswald died as the result of complications following an appendectomy in Egypt, where he had been ministering to British troops through the YMCA. His untimely death at the age of 43 was mourned by thousands of people. He was so well loved by the men he ministered to, that in spite of the fact that he wasn't part of the military, he was given a full military burial in the old British cemetery in Cairo. A cable was dispatched from Cairo to family and friends at home, bearing the simple message, "OSWALD IN HIS PRESENCE." Oswald and Biddy had been married for just 7 years. At the age of 34, she had become a widow and the single mother of a little girl. The real story behind the man's fame began at his death.

Before she met Oswald, Biddy had become a stenographer. She could take shorthand faster than most people could talk. And from the time she first began listening to her husband's messages, Biddy took shorthand notes. It never occurred to her that one day they would be transcribed to become the texts of his books and that she would become the editor as well as publisher of many of them.

If you have been blessed by the writings of Oswald Chambers as I have over the years, you would agree that the Christian world owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to a humble, gracious, and generally unknown woman whose efforts have blessed so many.

Today, we think it strange that a woman would devote herself so unselfishly to editing and publishing her husband's work. But that's the way that Biddy wanted it. She believed that people would see Jesus in Oswald's writings. It's amazing what can be accomplished when we're willing to let God have the credit and are not concerned about our getting the glory.

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