My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers

English: Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

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Updated Edition in modern English 

Sometimes the best gift a friend can give you, is the gift of another friend. To introduce you to someone who blesses and enriches their life, in the hope that you too will be blessed in the knowing.  

Nell was a lady who had lived long, lost much and loved still. A woman of prayer, she shone with the radiance of having spent  much of her life in God’s Presence.  Over 25 years ago now, she introduced me to one of her most precious travelling companions. Oswald Chambers. It was a life changing meeting, and he has journeyed with me since, through thick and thin.

My Utmost for His Highest should come with a spiritual health warning. “This may seriously affect your spiritual life.”

It is not for the faint hearted. A series of devotional reflections on a verse for each day, drawn from his teachings to his students when he was principal of The Bible Training College in London, he packs a punch. Like a search light on the soul, he misses nothing, observing “the thoughts and intentions of the heart” allowing no self-delusion. He was a man sold out on God, abandoned to Him utterly, and his passion is seriously infectious.

He died in 1917 at the age of 36, while he was chaplain to the Commonwealth troops in Egypt during World War I . He died from complications following appendicitis. He had refused to take up a bed needed by wounded soldiers, and lost his life to a clot in his lungs following his eventual operation.  One very brief life, but offered entirely to God, he is truly a grain of wheat falling to the ground and producing a hundredfold.

Instead of being gone and forgotten, more people know his name and writings today than ever did in his life time.  This book and those others bear his name have been translated into scores of languages, and are read daily by millions around the world. The Book Depository describes this book as “The most popular devotional book ever published”.

If I may quote from a biography of him, by David McCasland called Abandoned to God, he asks, “Why the continued interests in the words of a man who was born before automobiles, telephones and electric lights? Why do his statements sound as if they were written right after he read today’s newspaper? The answer lies in the message and the man. The two are inseparable.” 
Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God 
David McCasland

After meeting Oswald for the first time, one serious young man said, “I was shocked at his undue levity. He was the most irreverent Reverend I had ever met!”

A British soldier in Egypt described Chambers as, “ the personification of the Sherlock Holmes of fiction- tall, erect, virile, with a clean cut face, framing a pair of piercing bright eyes….a detective of the soul”

“A detective of the soul’ could not be a more apt description of Oswald, and of this book. It was published by his wife Biddy, after his death, taken from her verbatim notes on his teaching.  I have read and reread him over the years, using the book as a daily spiritual check up. He points me to the God he loved and trusted. He allows me no self pity in suffering, no self satisfaction in times of success. He pushes me onwards when I am flagging and encourages me always to give my utmost for God’s highest , as he endeavoured to do. 

As I have explored the rocky and dangerous territory of a vocation to ordination, he has been at my side, like a personal trainer, urging me on to more of God.
One of the CDs inspired by “My Utmost”

I have pressed this book into the hands of many friends over the years. Whether they too, have been enriched and blessed as I have been, by this man after God’s heart, I will never know.  What I do know, is that whatever steep climb or twisty valley you may be travelling, you couldn’t take a more worthy companion. 
I was asked to write this in response to the question “What  one Christian book has influenced you more than any other.. ( apart from the Bible) ”  Would love to hear what books you would name in this category.
This post originally appeared on Anita Mathais Blog Dreaming Beneath the Spires  where you can find other book reviews, by her guest bloggers answering this question.

Hidden costs

Sometimes you will find that your obedience to God will cost other people more than you think”  Wise words, from a wise friend, Oswald Chambers, who is an excellent travelling companion on the Way.

Jesus makes no bones about our need to ‘take up our cross’ when we follow him. He promises no beds of roses or easy life, quite the reverse, in fact. He does however, promise to be with us in it, and through every part of the journey, come rain, come shine, wonderful mountain vistas or deep shadowy valleys.

I had no illusions when I started out on this ordination journey, that it would be an easy one. God warned me it would be tough, and so it proved. He has used those difficulties very positively to shape and strengthen me, and I can genuinely  thank Him for it all.  I knew it would be costly to me, and was prepared for that. I also knew that it would be costly to those I love, and that has been, and will continue to be, the harder cost to bear. To obey God when it  calls for sacrifice, is one thing; to obey him, when it calls those nearest and dearest to bear the heavier weight of the sacrifice, is quite another.

I am blessed with a hugely supportive husband, family and friends, and I could not be more thankful for that. They have been very forbearing when they have seen very little of me due to the demands of a very rigourous, all encompassing, training process.

From the start, for me this whole thing has been about obedience, rather than ordination. I remember telling close friends early in the journey, to chide me if they ever heard me speaking about ordination as a goal. I don’t think they ever had cause to do that, thankfully.  Having fought God harder than I have ever fought Him in my life, over this call to priesthood – when I finally capitulated, He had to have my unqualified YES. A blank cheque.  Wherever He chooses to take me, via whatever route. ( and in my experiences He often goes from A to B via Y ) Mine is to answer His call to “Follow Me” , whatever that costs. See Called to Fish, Shaped to Serve  for previous thoughts on answering the call.  

I am now at another cross roads on the Way, waiting to hear where my curacy /Title post for the next few years will be.  That too will carry its costs to me, and to those I love.  I have no idea where it will be, or what will be the nature of those costs, hidden or otherwise, but I know He knows, and that is enough.  

  “Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name”  Psalm 86:11