Happy Birthday, Biddy Chambers!

It’s birthday week for Biddy Chambers as I write this post.

Born July 13, 1883 in Woolwich, Kent, England, Gertrude Annie Hobbs grew up to become Biddy Chambers.

Henry and Emily Gardner Hobbs gave their third of three children a popular and conventional first name and a family name for the middle.

Coming in at #22 out of the top 200 girl’s names in 1880 England, Gertrude’s family called her “Gert” or “Truda.”

The Annie came from her maternal grandmother, Ann Whiteman Gardner who lived 20 miles away in Gravesend.

Born in the shadow of the Woolwich Arsenal where most of the British armaments were made for several hundred years, her birthday was “celebrated” a few weeks later when a rocket escaped the grounds!

A birthday marked in Seed Thoughts Calendar

I’ve written before about how writers put together devotionals.

They usually choose “anchor days,” to help them decide what devotion goes where on a 366-day calendar.

As Biddy compiled devotionals using her husband’s words, it’s interesting to see what she included on her birthday.

Seed Thoughts Calendar (modern version called Run Today’s Race) was the first book she organized after Oswald Chambers‘s 1917 death, while she still lived in Egypt.

Designed to fit into a World War I soldier’s breast pocket, the slim booklet contained a single clever sentence for each day of the year.

Oswald liked to stimulate the imagination of soldiers visiting his devotional hut at Zeitoun.

He wrote his pithy sayings on a chalkboard each day.

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The latest edition of Seed Thoughts Calendar, is called Run Today’s Race.

Some were amusing, like: “Beware! There is a religious talk here each evening!”

Biddy used Oswald’s word to explain why and how:

“December 9:  Our Lord was never impatient. He simply planted seed thoughts in the disciples’ minds and surrounded them with the atmosphere of His own life. We get impatient and take men by the scruff of the neck and say: “You must believe this and that.”

You cannot make a man see moral truth by persuading his intellect. “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth.”

What did Biddy choose to mark her own birthday?

“July 13: Satan has no power to dispossess God of me.”

Remember, she chose that statement to mark her personal birthday a year after her husband died.

What does the birthday statement mean?

Oswald and Biddy had a straightforward understanding of Satan as the enemy of God and man.

Elsewhere, Oswald explains the danger:

“Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things— he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil.”

Satan’s the tempter, and that’s what this statement indicates.

The word dispossess means

1. to put (a person) out of possession, especially of real property; oust. 2. to banish.
To rephrase Biddy’s birthday calendar seed thought: “The temptor cannot take me away from God.”

Consider the pressure on Biddy during that difficult time following Oswald’s death (not to mention the rest of her life).

As the new head of the YMCA‘s huts at Zeitoun, she needed to display a confidence Oswald’s death did not surprise God.

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Happy birthday at the beach with Kathleen? [Wheaton Special Collections]

She also needed to hang on to her own faith.Her idea and relationship with the Lord was so strong that she determined nothing would separate her soul for God’s.

On July 13, she made her statement and kept to it the rest of her life.

As her daughter Kathleen explained:

“All my life my mother . . . never for half a second questioned what God allowed to happen, ever. She might have been puzzled, but was unperturbed and never desperate.

She believed God would be there in the middle of the situation, or beside her, no matter what happened.”

For her birthday, Biddy made that statement for all the world to see.


Happy birthday, Biddy Chambers! Click to Tweet

A statement of faith on Biddy Chambers’ birthday. Click to Tweet

“Satan has no power,” said Biddy Chambers on her birthday. Click to Tweet

Every month in 2017, I’ll be telling the stories about God’s leading and my blessed–and astonished–reactions while writing Mrs. Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers' Bible, Wheaton College Special Collections Library, what Bible did Oswald Chambers use? Lecture outlines in the Bible

The next newsletter comes out July 20: How a novelist could write a biography.

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