Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World's Bestselling Devotional

Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World's Bestselling Devotional

by Michelle Ule

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Among Christian devotional works, My Utmost for His Highest stands head and shoulders above the rest, with more than 13 million copies sold. But most readers have no idea that Oswald Chambers's most famous work was not published until ten years after his death. The remarkable person behind its compilation and publication was his wife, Biddy. And her story of living her utmost for God's highest is one without parallel.

Bestselling novelist Michelle Ule brings Biddy's story to life as she traces her upbringing in Victorian England to her experiences in a WWI YMCA camp in Egypt. Readers will marvel at this young woman's strength as she returns to post-war Britain a destitute widow with a toddler in tow. Refusing personal payment, Biddy proceeds to publish not just My Utmost for His Highest, but also 29 other books with her husband's name on the covers. All the while she raises a child alone, provides hospitality to a never-ending stream of visitors and missionaries, and nearly loses everything in the London Blitz during WWII.

The inspiring story of a devoted woman ahead of her times will quickly become a favorite of those who love true stories of overcoming incredible odds, making a life out of nothing, and serving God's kingdom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493406968
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 401,450
File size: 29 MB
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About the Author

Bestselling novelist Michelle Ule has read My Utmost for His Highest as her daily devotional every year since 1999. Trained as a newspaper reporter, she blogs regularly on Chambers, travel, and spiritual topics, and has taught women's Bible studies for 30 years. She lives in Northern California. Learn more at

Table of Contents

Prologue: Faith and Experience (November 13, 1908) 9

1 Discovering Divine Designs: 1883-1907 13

2 The Spontaneity of Love: 1907-8 25

3 The Secret of the Lord: 1908-10 33

4 Building for Eternity: 1911-12 42

5 Vision: 1913 55

6 The Baffling Call of God: 1914-15 67

7 The Undetected Sacredness of Circumstances: 1915 79

8 The Determination to Serve: 1916 91

9 The Destitution of Service: 1916 102

10 The Teaching of Adversity: 1917 114

11 What Is That to Thee? November 1917 125

12 The Fires of Sorrow: 1918 149

13 Sublime Intimacy: 1919-20 161

14 Isn't There Some Misunderstanding? 1921-29 174

15 The Worker's Ruling Passion: 1929-39 188

16 The Teaching of Adversity: 1939-46 200

17 Yes-But …! 1946-60 211

18 Undaunted Radiance: 1961-66 218

Acknowledgments 225

Appendix: Biddy Chambers and the Writing of My Utmost for His Highest, 1924-27 229

Notes 235

Bibliography 249

About the Author 251

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Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World's Bestselling Devotional 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Kerryn More than 1 year ago
I have read the beautiful devotional, "My Utmost for His Highest" for many, many years but not until this year have I known the story behind this, and all of the other books published under the name of Oswald Chambers. Michelle Ule has brought to life for us, the precious story of Oswald's loving, humble widow, who served her beloved Master in obscurity, by bringing to the world the amazing teachings of her late husband as he had lectured and preached, both in London and in Egypt as a Chaplain to the ANZAC troops, where his ministry and messages served to bring a revival of faith to the weary WW1 troops. His beloved, beautiful, hard working wife, took down in shorthand all these golden words (at an unbelievable speed of 250 words per minute, I was trained and could take down 120 words per minute!) When Oswald passed away in Egypt at the age of 43, Biddy continued his work until the war's end, and then, for the rest of her life, in the midst of supporting herself and their daughter by taking in boarders, she typed and published these precious notes into many wonderful books which have been read worldwide and are still in print, one hundred years on. Michelle has been called of the Lord to present the life of this unknown saint and I am so grateful to have read her beautifully written story of Biddy, and her "Ministry of Interruptions"...which is truly, the ministry of most of God's servants. Thank you Michelle, with love from Kerryn from Tasmania
michelemorin More than 1 year ago
Published in 1927, My Utmost for His Highest has sold more than 13 million copies and has never been out of print. Over the course of its 90+ year history, it has been translated into 40 different languages, and Oswald Chambers’s unique and timeless wisdom is quoted far and wide. However, until recently, little thought has been given to the fact that My Utmost was not published until ten years after Chambers’s death, and that it was his wife, Gertrude “Biddy” Hobbs Chambers who took on the mammoth task of compiling and editing nearly twenty years’ worth of sermons and lessons. Michelle Ule has traced this process in telling the story of the woman behind the world’s best-selling devotional: Mrs. Oswald Chambers. “It Is God Who Engineers Circumstances” Trained as a stenographer, Biddy learned to type as well with the goal of financial stability and the lofty hope of one day becoming the first female secretary to England’s prime minister. While she remained very private about her spiritual life, it’s clear that her spiritual journey began under the ministry of Oswald Chambers’s brother Arthur. At some point after she was baptized, Oswald led a week-long mission at his big brother’s church, representing an early interdenominational para-church organization, the League of Prayer. To riff on Jane Austen, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a [budding ministry], must be in want of a wife,” and although Chambers did not come seeking, he found, and to frame it with his own words: “Love is not premeditated, it is spontaneous, i.e., it bursts up in extraordinary ways.” The “bursting up” was followed by a long distance courtship which evolved into an on-the-road marriage in which Oswald and Biddy crossed the Atlantic and covered the Eastern U.S. as far south as Maryland, as far north as Maine (!), and as far west as Ohio, with Oswald speaking at camp meetings and Biddy faithfully taking shorthand at every venue. When the newlyweds returned to England, they soon took up residence and took on leadership roles in a Bible Training College started by the League of Prayer. While Oswald lectured, Biddy served as the school’s superintendent and together they grew into the kind of wisdom that taught them the folly of playing the role of “amateur providence” in other lives and the deep faith that comes with depending upon God for every need to be met. A man of “perpetual motion” (55), Chambers became a bit of a celebrity in his small circle with everyone wanting a piece of his day. In quietly cherishing his words and in unraveling the administrative nightmares of life together in an educational setting, Biddy began to live her way into a calling of her own in an era when a Christian woman was largely seen as an adornment for the arm of her more influential husband. After the birth of their daughter Kathleen in 1913, summer traveling and school-year activities resumed in full force with a small, blonde curly-haired addition to the ministry team. “God’s Purpose Is Never Man’s Purpose” When England entered World War I, the Bible Training College era come to an end, and the Chambers family traveled together to Egypt where Oswald served as a YMCA chaplain. Early in their parenting life, they committed themselves to raising Kathleen themselves and keeping her with them, rather then sending her off to boarding school as was the custom of that day. Finish reading at Living Our Days ...
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Thursday, December 7, 2017 Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World's Bestselling Devotional by Michelle Ule, © 2017 My Review: ~* Finding God's Fingerprints in Everyday Life *~ God's grace in understanding His truth in our lives that our devotion to Him be enriched! This story of pursuing His highest purpose for each life is our relationship with Him. Pointed not to man, but to God be the glory! Responsibilities assigned as new YMCA secretary near Cairo, Egypt ~ an expedition to the Zuitoun camp brought soldiers under Oswald's spiritual care. Joined by his wife and daughter, and others, they were missionaries amid those far from home delivering what was needed truth and a respite to receive a touch of home ~ and gathered hope. The YMCA camp became a haven from war as a welcome was given whether or not they listened to Oswald's lectures. An oasis of God's love in the desert. This biography tells of their beginnings and continuance upon Oswald's death and burial in Eygpt. As I read this account I think of Elisabeth Elliot and her daughter, Valerie, as they continued in the work the Lord presented before them. Both widows, with a daughter; Biddy's account: Biddy believed God had reasons for giving her Kathleen to raise without a father. God also had provided a task: to put Oswald's teachings into writing for the spiritual benefit of others. She believed God would care for her and her child as she performed her ministry. --Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World's Bestselling Devotional, 154. Seaming together Oswald Chambers' lectures along with adjoining memories, his wife, Biddy, compiled her handwritten and shorthand notes combining his varied talks to compose the widely-read devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. God's journey individually for readers has been experienced through reflection of these readings. This devotional has not gone out of printing since its inception. She pieced together a crazy quilt of concepts into a beautiful work of practical spiritual warmth. --Ibid., 230. Oswald Chambers 1874-1917 Biddy Chambers 1884-1966 ***Thank you to author Michelle Ule for this biographical account forming this book, and to Baker Books Bloggers for supplying a copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Prayerwalker More than 1 year ago
This book has inspired me in so many ways. Biddy Chambers lived out her faith in courageous fashion. She taught Bible college students at a time when women did not do that sort of thing. She ministered with husband Oswald in Egypt to World War I soldiers. And after his death just seven years into their marriage, the brilliant stenographer turned her husband's lectures and sermons into thirty books--the most famous of which is world's most popular devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. She profited not a cent from those publications but instead helped finance the tens of thousands that were sent out into the world to help others grow more closely to Christ. Living in virtual poverty and raising their child alone, she completely relied upon her Savior. I loved Michelle Ule's book, which was carefully researched and chronicled sensitively and yet objectively. I highly recommend it for fans of My Utmost. For those who have not read the devotional, I believe Ule's biography will draw them to My Utmost with great insight and appreciation for not only its insights but also for its ghost writer. I plan to revisit My Utmost for 2018, with two goals: to grow more closely to Christ but also to look for Biddy's touches.
GingerHarrington More than 1 year ago
As a fan of Oswald Chambers, I loved reading Mrs. Oswald Chambers, the new biography from Michelle Ule. My Utmost for His Highest has been part of my morning routine for years. It was fascinating to learn more about the Chambers and the gifted woman who brought Oswald’s words to the world. The impact of Biddy’s work has brought countless readers closer to Christ. For any fan of Oswald Chambers, this book is a great read. I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review. All opinions herein are my own.
summer_no9 More than 1 year ago
This book was a remarkable writing and compelling to read from the real story lively life of an incredible woman Mrs. Oswald Chambers was behind My Utmost for his highest a famous devotional book with had many copies sold from the most famous work of Oswald Chambers story was bring to the published after his death for ten years by his lovely wife, Biddy. I highly recommend to everyone must to read this book. “ I received complimentary a copy of this book from Baker Books Bloggers for this review”.
CLPadgett More than 1 year ago
I finished this book two weeks ago but I needed some time to absorb it all before I talked about it. I’ve read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers many times. Sometimes it’s my daily devotional for the year. Sometimes I just pick it up and read random days. But there’s always a copy nearby that I can easily get my hands on. I had no idea the work, the calling, the sacrifice that went into making copies of this book so readily available to readers. Michelle Ule has crafted a story that is part biography, part history, and part devotional in its own right. Mrs. Oswald Chambers is, on the surface, a biography of Gertrude ‘Biddy’ Chambers, Oswald Chambers’ wife and widow. It starts with her early life, moves to meeting Chambers, falling in love, and their decision to marry and minster together. They married in 1910, had a daughter in 1913, and he died in 1917. A short marriage, but one with lasting and far-reaching impact. Biddy trained as a secretary and took shorthand at 250 words per minute. She wrote down all of his sermons, homilies, lessons, and talks, then transcribed them. After her husband’s death, she began to compile various selections and released them as books under his name. I loved Mrs. Oswald Chambers! Michelle Ule crafted a story that is compelling, humbling, and thought-provoking. If I’d been widowed with a small child, while living in a foreign country near a war zone, I don’t think my inclination would be to continue to serve God while living in poverty. Biddy did that, not only willingly, but with a faith and a calling that never faltered. I highly recommend this book and I suggest you run and grab your own copy. It will change you.
sesquius More than 1 year ago
This was a truly fascinating book. Having read the devotionals in the past, I was surprised to discover her role in the subsequent books. Amazed to learn about how this all happened .. a girl in love .. marriage and devotion to husband and all of his ideas. From travels to opening up a school and running it. Living on little money and trusting God in everything they did that He was in control and would lead and take care of them. The birth of a daughter Kathaleen and their devotion to her. Moving to Egypt during war and the dangers involved. Setting up camp and working with the YMCA was very interesting to learn about . The death of Oswald at an early age due to pneumonia and Biddy (Mrs. nickname by Oswald) continues to work and support her and And daughter by using Oswald’s devotional notes etc. the book “my upmost for his highest” was published ten years after his death.. Both Oswald’s leave an impression about giving your life of service to Him by actions and careful words. I received this book from the publisher and all thoughts and opinions are my own.