Musings: January 2018

He floats the question, and I almost miss the impact.
Coming as it does in the midst of a firestorm of holy fury against the false prophets who are Jeremiah’s contemporaries, the question sounds rhetorical:

 “’Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away?
Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?
Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 23:23, 24)

Immanent and transcendent, God declares Himself to the ears of those who want nothing of Truth, and Jeremiah faithfully stored up His words for us today. We know from reading his howling laments that Jeremiah was no stranger to the sense of God’s absence. A condition that prowls every believer in every era, I wonder if we notice as acutely in our time?

Oswald Chambers warned against it:

“Guard jealously your relationship to God. . .  Are you drawing your life from any other source than God Himself?” If you are depending upon anything but Him, you will never know when He is gone.”  (January 20th)

He who “fills heaven and earth” is certainly never “gone,” but with a Word that comes to us as both fire and hammer, it’s incredible that we miss His voice so easily.

On My Mind

Along with Jeremiah’s Old Testament words, I’m up to my fetlocks in G.K. Chesterton these days. Finally after a number of false starts, I decided the only way for me to make it through his classic work, Orthodoxyis to give myself the entire space of 2018 to do it, and to commit myself to showing up here once a month with a collection of ponderings.

Orthodoxy

You’re invited to join me in this project. I’ve been surprised at how many readers have already said they want to come along for the ride. You can read my first post here. By way of accountability, I’m planning a February 15th post on my reading up to this point. Grab a low-cost version of Orthodoxy for your Kindle, and be sure to share your thoughts and your progress as you read.

Around Our Table

 

The Morin family has entered a new era in parenting. Our youngest son is now 16, and we celebrated for an entire weekend. It was great, and all the ruckus was an appropriate marker to get us ready for the upcoming license test, the new job, and the busy schedule that are part of the package in this growing and changing family.

We enjoyed having our third son home from college over Christmas break, but he loaded up his Ford Ranger and headed back to school in mid-January, so I am once again faced with more leftovers at supper time than I’m accustomed to.

On the Blog

A Guide for Living Well as an Introvert of FaithI’m continually thankful for the insightful comments you folks leave behind whenever you visit. Apparently a good number of you are introverts, so you resonated with the insights offered by Adam McHugh in his wonderful book Introverts in the Church which balances the extroverted culture of the North American church with truth that it is possible to thrive as an introvert of faith.

 

The More You Were Made ForIt’s always a joy to write and to share Truth in community, and God-Sized Dreams extended their customary warm welcome to me in the month of January when I kicked off our read-through of Holley Gerth’s You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream. The post was an invitation at the beginning of this new year to stop listening to the voices who say your dream is not big enough – who say that your dream is not really God-sized because it does not call for a more exotic address or a job title with a greater wow factor. Pursuing a God-sized dream is “not about what you do as much as how you do it. It’s about pursuing life with passion and purpose and going with God wherever He leads.”

I was given the opportunity to feature a new resource for family devotions, a guide for readers who want to practice the spiritual discipline of journaling, and two great books for grandparents who want to love their children AND their children’s children well.

Biddy Chambers: A Sacramental LifeMy favorite post for January was my review of Michelle Ule’s biography of Mrs. Oswald Chambers. 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.

The snow that is falling outside my window this afternoon is barely perceptible. Even so, it is adding to the carpet of white that has stayed with us for most of the month, and while snow complicates life at times, I’m thankful for its beauty. I’m also thankful for the many ways in which you “show up” here at Living Our Days, and for the opportunity to connect around books and around eternal truth.
Blessings and love to you! 


I have begun to experiment with including Amazon affiliate links here in my book reviews. If you should decide to purchase any of the resources reviewed in this post, click on the title below, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture|
Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World’s Bestselling DevotionalTeach Us to Pray: Scripture-Centered Family Worship through the Year
Journaling for the Soul: A Handbook of Journaling Methods
Grandparenting: Loving Our Children’s Children (Lifeguide Bible Studies)
There’s a Reason They Call It Grandparenting

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Advertisements

Biddy Chambers: A Sacramental Life

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.

Life in Egypt was characterized by a “ministry of interruptions” in which Biddy Biddy Chambers: A Sacramental Lifeand Oswald made themselves available to anyone who needed to hear the Truth. “Washing the disciples’ feet” often meant feeding hordes of service men under challenging circumstances, and, for Biddy, it always meant patiently recording every word of her husband’s many sermons and devotionals. With amazing prescience for this time, Oswald referred to Biddy’s great contribution to their ministry in his letters:

“As for Biddy I love her and I am her husband, but I do not believe it is possible to exaggerate what she has been in the way of a Sacrament out here — God conveying His presence through the common elements of an ordinary life.”

When Oswald passed away in Egypt on November 15, 1917, from complications following a ruptured appendix, God’s Word to Joshua became a comfort to Biddy:

“As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee. I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee . . .Only be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:5)

Amidst the fires of sorrow, Biddy continued what Oswald had begun and was comforted by the understanding and appreciation of the servicemen she and her husband had served together. One by one, she began producing books and pamphlets taken from her careful notes and publishing them at her own expense, and this became the scaffolding of her life in England when she returned home to a “home” that did not feel like home with a young daughter who had no memory of the family there and who was used to living amidst the bustle of an Army camp.

“Faith is Deliberate Commitment to a Person Where I See No Way.”

Because Chambers had not been employed by the military, Biddy had no pension, and times were lean for her and Kathleen as they moved from one situation to another, always typing, always publishing, and always just short of enough resources to make ends meet. The notion of publishing a daily devotional work that compiled Oswald’s teaching followed on the heels of the enthusiastic response to a devotional calendar Biddy had produced. Thus, it was in October 1927, in the days when Lewis and Tolkien were lunching at the Eagle and Child pub, when Winnie the Pooh was holding court at the London Zoo, in the year that Amy Carmichael’s Dohnavur Fellowship came into being in India, and that someone made the first transatlantic phone call to North America that My Utmost for His Highest was first published in England.

Biddy went on to run a boutique publishing house, editing and launching Oswald’s writings to an enthusiastic readership that still profits from his words — and from her skill and determination. Personally, my appreciation for Chambers’s work has been heightened by this introduction to his wife’s story. Because I learned that Biddy carefully chose the meditations for Oswald’s birthday, their wedding day, and the anniversary of his death, I want to make a notation in my copy to remind me that the message for that day is specifically assigned.  As a single mum who persevered through two world wars and lived all her days under challenging circumstances, Biddy Chambers lived out the title of her husband’s book, offering her utmost in faithfulness and focus for His highest purposes in her own life and in the lives of her readers every day.


This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I have begun to experiment with including an Amazon affiliate link here in my book reviews. If you should decide to purchase Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional click on the title here, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Headings have been quoted from My Utmost for His Highest.

Images are shared from the Michelle Ule’s Pinterest account.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.