“[She] rarely had a twenty-four hour period in which it appeared she
had accomplished something great for God. But the total of her days added
up to a towering achievement of published works and human kindness.”
I started out reading Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland, expecting to learn about Chambers, which I did, but what impressed me even more was the story of his wife, Biddy. Her life is an encouraging reminder of what God can do with the dreams, the tragedies, and the triumphs of a life surrendered to Him.
I know the devil is not omniscient, but his persistence in thwarting the spunk of this woman makes you wonder if he knew just how much God was going to use her.
Many of us are familiar with her husband, Oswald Chambers, whose name appears on his books, but few know that, according to McCasland, “without her work, his words would never have existed on paper or in published form.
Man makes plans but the Lord directs his steps When health issues caused her to withdraw from school, Biddy studied shorthand and typing at home with such determination that she learned to take dictation faster than most people could talk. She dreamed of being the secretary to the Prime Minister of England.
Years later, she and Oswald married. They were passionate about God, each other and life. Instead of taking dictation from the Prime Minister, Biddy used her shorthand to capture her zealous husband’s teachings. Together they dreamed of using their speaking, literary, and transcribing skills to spread God’s word through publications. Little did they suspect the way this would come to be—he in the grave—she with her copious shorthand notes.
God’s ways are not our ways In 1917, they were living in Egypt where Oswald was ministering to the troops. When he became sick from a ruptured appendix no one imagined this passionate, robust man would not recover. Even Biddy believed God told her the sickness was not unto death. When he died she was shocked. A bride of seven years, now a widow with a four-year-old daughter. She had no means of income and no idea what would happen.
Eventually she moved to England where she ran a lodging house for students. Over the years, she had copied many of Oswald’s talks from her notes and published them. Now she had the idea to make a collection of his teachings arranged as daily readings. She copied, compiled, edited, arranged distributed, and paid for the first edition of what was to become one of the most popular devotionals of all time: My Utmost for His Highest.
Apart from the quiet initials, B. C., in the foreword to My Utmost for His Highest, her name is not mentioned.
Talk about finding joy in your purpose without needing acclaim from others.
A life of joy and trust Impressive as they were, Biddy’s triumphs didn’t lie in her accomplishments. Hers was a life so anchored in God that neither dried-up dreams, death, nor disease could place a root of bitterness into her soul. Her trust in the Lord and joy of life are evidenced in the following anecdotes reported by McCasland.
When she received the devastating news that 40,000 books had been lost in a German incendiary attack on the warehouse, she calmly responded, “We’ll wait and see what God will do now.”
Now there’s an example for us now in these times of economic uncertainty.
And when some overly stuffy seminary students came to dinner, Biddy lightened the evening by asking her then thirty-five-year-old daughter if she could still spit a cherry pit to the ceiling. Kathleen promptly obliged, challenging the men to outspit her.Who says you have to be stuffy to be a godly woman!
Biddy Chambers. She’s my Proverbs 31 woman hero.
McCasland, David. Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God. Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993.