If you haven’t read Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional (or Mrs. OC), you’re in for a treat. Author Michelle Ule and I met through our literary agency, Books & Such, and I was honored to be part of her launch team for her book. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot from Michelle, who is the very definition of grace under pressure (as she proved when her part of the world caught fire right as her book launched).
The best part of my entire experience on the Mrs. OC launch team, however, was reading the book itself.
I am an avid Christian biography reader. My bookshelves lovingly bear the weight of all the bios I’ve collected over the years, and my Kindle is stuffed as well. Reading about the lives and testimonies of other Christians stirs my soul and strengthens my faith. Bios shake me up and wake me up.
Mrs. OC is now among my top favorite Christian biographies. I read it when it first released last fall, and I think about it often. Gertrude Chambers (affectionately known as Biddy, short for “beloved disciple,” or “B.D.”) was the wife of Oswald Chambers, a famous preacher, teacher, and evangelist. Her bio gives us a beautiful look into their lives together, their marriage, and their ministry. I didn’t know much, really, about Oswald Chambers except that he wrote My Utmost for His Highest, a popular daily devotional book. I knew nothing about his wife Biddy. Mrs. OC changed all that.
As I reflect back on my experience reading about Biddy’s life and legacy, many highlights come to mind. Here are my Top 7 reasons you should read Mrs. Oswald Chambers:
1. Do you worry that your limitations and weaknesses keep you from serving God?
If you’re sometimes discouraged by your physical, intellectual, or experiential limitations, this book will grab your heart within the first few chapters. Biddy was physically weak and ill as a young girl, and she was often unable to attend school. But God, in all of his wonderful love, used her limitations as a child to build specific gifts in her that she used in ministry for the rest of her life. Her weaknesses were, indeed, used for his glory!
2. Have you ever wondered how to serve God today, right where you’re planted?
Biddy ministered to people in big and small ways, wherever she found herself. She was a great helper to her husband and had her own unique ministry, right alongside his. She was the fitting helpmate in a natural way as she offered up her own specific gifts to support and compliment Oswald’s work. She was the backbone of all Oswald did and the reason many people flocked to their home, wherever they lived.
3. Do you need encouragement as a wife?
Oswald and Biddy had a beautiful and very real marriage. Oswald was extremely busy preaching, teaching, writing, and traveling. Their marriage was strong and their love was deep, in the midst of hard work and busy schedules. They grew together in Christ and were always in unity in their mission and ministry. Their daily habits and routines for life and ministry were simple yet extremely profitable. Their marriage is a picture of a true partnership.
4. Do you struggle to strike a balance between motherhood and ministry?
You will find that Biddy’s style of mothering is just right. Oswald gave her wise counsel regarding her mothering early on (and reminded her of that precious calling regularly). Regardless of where they lived or how busy their ministry was, Biddy mothered her daughter in a gracious and loving way.
5. Do you worry about financial provision, retirement, or support for ministry?
Biddy lived an entire lifetime of faith in the area of her finances. She never had a lot of money, but that didn’t stop her from following God wherever he led or from being extremely generous to everyone she met. She trusted God and prayed for what they needed. Her life is a beacon of hope to those who long to serve God but worry about a regular income.
6. Do you wonder how you can serve God in your home? At your church?
Hospitality was Biddy’s gift. Part of Biddy’s “magic” was the way she opened up her home, fed people, and invited people to come in for food and Bible time. She provided physical nourishment, advice, encouragement, and spiritual discipleship in the most natural way. People came from far distances to sit at her table and ask her advice, even in her old age. Her story will inspire you to serve Jesus in simple yet powerful ways with your own unique set of gifts.
7. Do you long to live a fuller life as a single woman or widow?
Biddy was happy and contented for many years as a single young woman. She had a keen mind and diverse interests. After Oswald’s death, she again led a fulfilling and fruitful life as a widow. She continued to use her unique gifts to carry on his work after his passing and is the sole reason his writings survive today. Though she never stopped missing Oswald, Biddy believed she had a mission to carry out and never flagged in her passion or determination to see it accomplished.
This book is beautifully written and well-researched. It contains spiritual lessons and lively anecdotes, giving a full picture of Biddy’s entire life and ministry. This is the kind of biography that tells a story; thus, it is easy to pick up and hard to put down.