Oswald Chambers was a prominent early twentieth century Scottish Protestant Christian minister and teacher, best known as the author of the widely-read devotional My Utmost for His Highest.
Chambers was born 24 July 1874 in Aberdeen, Scotland to devout Baptist parents. He accepted Christ in his teen years. While walking home from a service conducted by Charles Spurgeon, he mentioned to his father that, had there been an opportunity, he would have become a Christian. Chambers developed quickly in his faith, but did not plan to go into ministry. He studied at Kensington Art School and attended the University of Edinburgh, where he studied fine art and archaeology. But while at Edinburgh, he felt called to ministry, and transferred to Dunoon College. An unusually gifted student, Chambers soon started teaching classes and started a local society dedicated to Robert Browning, his favorite poet. But during this time, Chambers did not find satisfaction in Christianity, finding the Bible ‘dull’ and uninspiring.
Finally, after four years of spiritual dryness, Chambers realized that he couldn’t force himself to be holy. Once he realized that the strength and peace he was looking for was Christ himself, Christ’s life in exchange for his sin, he experienced great renewal so much so that he described it as a “radiant, unspeakable emancipation.”
With new-found strength, Chambers traveled the world, stopping in Egypt, Japan, and America. It was on one of his trips to America that he met Gertrude Hobbs. In 1910 he was married to Hobbs, whom he affectionately called “Biddy”. On 24 May 1913 Biddy gave birth to their only daughter, Kathleen.
In 1911 he founded and became principal of the Bible Training College in Clapham in London. In 1915, feeling called to the war effort (World War I), Chambers applied and was accepted as a YMCA chaplain. He announced that the Bible Training College would be suspending operations for the duration of the war. Chambers was assigned to Zeitoun in Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops who were later part of the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli.
Chambers died 15 November 1917 in Egypt as the result of a ruptured appendix. He suffered the extreme pain of appendicitis for three days before seeking medical attention, refusing to take a hospital bed needed by wounded soldiers.
While there are more than 30 books that bear his name, he only penned one book, Baffled to Fight Better. His wife, Biddy, was a stenographer and could take dictation at a rate of 150 words per minute. During his time teaching at the Bible College and at various sites in Egypt, Biddy kept verbatim records of his lessons. She spent the remaining 30 years of her life compiling her records into the bulk of his published works.