Oswald Chambers’ Birthday

Last week we looked at Biddy’s birthday, this week we celebrate Oswald’s!

The two were born 11 days shy of nine years apart–Oswald entering the world in Scotland on July 24, 1874.

The seventh of eight children of Reverend Clarence and Hannah Chambers, Oswald had four sisters and three brothers.

Oswald grew up in a busy household, and there’s no telling how he celebrated as a child.

But his diary tells of two personal birthday celebrations.

Oswald Chambers’ birthday at sea

In 1906, Oswald sailed to Japan with his friend Juji Nakada.

He’d had a momentous year and his diary  (from Oswald Chambers: His Life and Work) reflected his thoughts:

“July 24th. My birthday morning. This year I spend it on the Pacific, last year I was at Keswick [Convention]. 33 today, praise God.

“The text for the morning on the League [of Prayer] calendar is “The Lord rewarded me…for I have kept the ways of the Lord.”

He saw the weeks-long voyage as “an unspeakable spiritual boon for they have physically refreshed and recreated me, and I am more and more convinced that this is essential to true full-orbed spirituality.”

A celebration awaited him, instigated by Nakada:

“Without any warning at the close of dinner the head waiter and all the others in a string lined up to my table with trays, with presents on each, the head waiter was carrying a splendid birthday cake with a candle burning on it.

“They presented the presents to me, and then burst out with cries of ‘speech’, which I duly gave, and then cut the cake and handed it all round. It was a great occasion, and on reflecting I do not know how I got through it as well as I did, but it was the suddenness of it. Then they took me to the deck and serenaded me with Scotch songs and Jubilee singer pieces.”

The final birthday

Oswald Chambers' birthday, July 24, Keswick, Cowman, Japan, Oswald Chambers parents, Kathleen Chambers, Oswald Chambers: His Life and Work

The wrangler hat was a gift from an ANZAC soldier

Oswald’s final birthday, though he did not know it, came ten years later in Egypt.

July 24, 1917 found him a mature, albeit exhausted, servant of God. He noted in his diary:

“July 24. This is my birthday, my 43rd, the Psalms for the day are great—106–108.
It has been a glorious day in all ways, very hot but psychically very fine, and as it was a summarizing time for me.”

He recounted  his statement of beliefs in the diary entry, reflecting on how he had changed from his art-loving youth, much like one of his favorite writers John Ruskin.

“My inner career at the beginning was heavy and strong, and even lurid and very agonizing in the earlier phases; latterly, austere and peaceful, and now it is merging into a joy which is truly the receiving of a hundredfold more.”

After two and a half years in the savage World War I-focused desert of Egypt, Oswald reflected the redemption provided by Christ needed to be the basis of human life.

His passion for Jesus and the Holy Spirit controlled who he was and what he did.

I particularly like his statement: “the Holy Spirit must be recognized as the sagacious Ruler in the saint’s affairs, not astute common sense.”

I’m sure I was more than 43 years-old before I recognized that truth.

Happy birthday, Oswald Chambers, born 143 years ago (as of 2017).


Oswald Chambers’ birthday celebration at sea. Click to Tweet

What Oswald Chambers learned by his final birthday 100 years ago. Click to Tweet

A cake, speeches and Scottish songs; happy birthday, Oswald Chambers! Click to Tweet




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