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Evangelist Tim Green
Day Heights, Ohio
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
In downtown Cincinnati nestled among hospitals, the mansion of William Howard Taft, abortion clinics, blighted ghettos, Fanny Crosby’s one-time home and brand new condominiums sits an holiness Bible college. Oswald Chambers taught within its portals and spoke at their annual camp meetings a couple of years near the dawn of the 20th Century. I have entered the room (now called Chamber’s Room) on several occasions and have done so with awe. Many of the books he wrote are there on a shelf (about fifty titles) and some of his handwritten outlines are framed and adorn the walls. It feels like sacred ground and an holy, hushed atmosphere envelopes one, like an intruder must feel in entering other special places.
Oswald Chambers’ mother and father were both baptized by Charles H. Spurgeon and Chambers’ father pastored several Baptist churches in England. When O.C. (initials used hence) was fifteen his father had to leave a church due to illness—they were sick of him! Moving to London he took O.C. to hear the famed Baptist pastor, C.H. Spurgeon. As they walked home that evening O.C., greatly moved by the message, asked his father if he could be saved here and now. Under a gaslight, on a London street, the glorious light of the Gospel illumined O.C.’s heart and he was converted. He was baptized on December 2, 1890 in the Rye Lane Baptist Chapel.
A gifted artist and brilliant student, he entered the University of Edinburgh to study art. His desire was to be a graphic portrayer of the Gospel. His talent as an artist is breath-taking. (A few samples can be seen in the biography by David McCasland). However, God had an higher purpose in mind—the call to preach—period! He left the university and enrolled as student/tutor/teacher at a small Bible college in Dunoon, Scotland. Here he spent nine years in Christian service and some spiritual frustration. The Lord moved him in the direction of his life’s purpose and theme of ministry while in Dunoon—Total Abandonment to God! (see Romans 12:1-2).
Chambers, after travelling the world for a year or so, and meeting the love of his life, Biddy, a girl some years younger than him, and surely sent from God (As a mere teenager she was gifted to write shorthand hundreds of words a minute, and she really is the one responsible for all the published works of her husband). O.C. started the Bible Training Center in London and when World War I broke out he went to Egypt with the Y.M.C.A. preaching and ministering to 400 men a day transiting through the camp at Zeitoun near the Canal Zone. He preached to Kiwis, Brits and Aussies as these young soldiers marched through the sand dunes and into battle and many into eternity. O.C. faithfully proclaimed the Gospel and Biddy provided tea and biscuits to these young men until O.C.’s untimely death in the fall of 1917. He succumbed to complications from an appendix operation at just forty-three years of age.
His most famous writing, My Utmost For His Highest is a classic daily devotional read by millions. It has inspired me, as the editor of the daily devotional, The Baptist Bread, to keep on keeping on these nineteen plus years of my job as editor of the that publication. I have read everything O.C. ever wrote that has been published (that I know of) and the theme that runs through his writings is that the Christian must be abandoned to God. (He faced this crucible of decision in his life as a young student/teacher at Dunoon). His quotes and sayings penetrate to the depth of the soul and seek out the dross; pride, envy, ambition, hatred, variance, etc. (You know, the ‘respectable’ Baptist sins that we seemingly condone and cover, while denouncing the sins we don’t commit, that are quite evident in others; cussing, drinking, smoking…) We must give up our rights to ourselves and surrender to Christ…Christ alone! Why? Because we have been bought with an high and holy price, the precious blood of our Lord (I Cor. 6:20). One of the most penetrating and profound statements he made was; “Too much of me erases Him, but enough of Him erases me.” I believe John the Baptist said it this way, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). The pride and arrogance paraded publically by many preachers and saved folk is utterly appalling and surely grieves the Holy Ghost. May God give us a new spirit of humility and yielding to Him in every phase of our lives and ministry is my personal plea. Remember; “…God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5b). God bless you and stay in the dust at His nail-scarred feet!