Biddy Chambers, Widow (Who was Biddy Chambers Part 3)

This is the third and final segment of Who is Biddy Chambers? Here are parts One and Two.

Biddy and Kathleen Chambers

Biddy and Kathleen circa 1920; photo courtesy Wheaton College Special Collections Library

What became of Oswald Chambers‘ widow?

Biddy Chambers was a young woman when her husband died of complications after an emergency appendectomy.

A hard working talented mother with a young child, she stayed on in Egypt ministering at the YMCA camp at Zeitoun until the war’s end. She and the five-year-old Kathleen returned to England to live out the rest of their lives.

She left behind a piece of her heart:

“On our last day, we went out to Old Cairo, to the place from which one is never far in spirit. And in the beauty and solitude which reign there, we thanked God for all the knowledge of Himself that had come to us during the years in Egypt.”

She took with her voluminous notes taken down in her fast shorthand during Oswald Chambers’ many lectures. She had need of them.

They returned to England on July 3, 1919 and at first lived with Biddy’s mother and sister. Friends visited and encouraged Biddy to continue publishing Oswald’s messages. Many followed up with financial gifts to make that happen. Biddy took to her typewriter and books compiled by “B.C.” and listed as being written by Oswald Chambers began to appear.

In 1922, Biddy and Kathleen moved to Oxford. She became a “licensed lodging house keeper,” for university students. She usually had four and her days revolved around fixing tea first thing in the morning, cooking lunch and dinner. Kathleen noted she often had a German girl living with her to help with the house keeping tasks. In between, Biddy sat at her typewriter and complied more notes and answered the mail.

She received some 40 letters a day and answered them all. When Biddy later moved to the Muswell Hill area of north London, she’d receive mail addressed to “Mrs. Oswald Chambers, London.” It all found its way to her!

During the Oxford years she was part of a preaching circuit and would travel into the countryside to speak at Sunday services. Oswald himself though her “very good with Psalms.”

Biddy’s days were punctuated as well by folks stopping by to converse or pray with her. She didn’t see these visits as a distraction.and spent a lot of time making and serving tea, listening and praying.

Kathleen spoke of Biddy’s real interests:

Biddy's typewriter

My Utmost for His Highest was typed on this typewriter.

“The notes were not as important to her as others. They were never more important than her home. She didn’t talk much about the books.”

In the mid 1920s, Biddy began to work on a collection of daily readings gleaned from all of Oswald’s talks, according to David McCasland in Oswald Chambers: Abandoned for God. First published in 1927, My Utmost for His Highest has never been out of print and has been translated into 39 languages.

“Without her work, Oswald’s words would never have existed on paper or in published form. Even so, she put Oswald’s name on the cover, She saw herself as a channel through which his words were conveyed to others. That was her way.”

In 1929 Kathleen Chambers was sent to boarding school in Scotland and Biddy moved to Muswell Hill to help care for her aging mother. She lived there the rest of her life.

Kathleen became a nurse, but she and her mother remained very close. “She was my best friend,” Kathleen recalled. “I could tell her anything.” Kathleen also noted she had to come into her own relationship with Christ, “It’s a handicapped to be brought up in a Christian home. You imagine you know more than you do.”

The London years were spent compiling more books from Oswald’s notes, eventually reaching thirty titles. (All of his books have been collected into a large volume The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers.) A group came together to support her and continues to this day: The Oswald Chambers Publications Association.

Biddy Chambers

Biddy Chambers; photo courtesy Wheaton College Library Special Collections

Like her late husband, Biddy had wide interests. She enjoyed poetry and prose and read The Daily Telegraph daily. “She was a very political animal,” Kathleen said. “She went every year to the Academy for exhibitions of artist’s new portraits and landscapes.” She enjoyed concerts and hosted Bible studies in her home. Biddy played the piano, rode bikes, took walks and played tennis.

Biddy Chambers never remarried.

“She was never hurried; she was relaxed and often said, ‘let’s see what God does next.” Kathleen remembered. “Life was not easy for my mother. She had to fight for everything, but her life was hid with Christ in God . . .  She never questioned anything God did, ever. Completely unperplexed and unperturbed. She may have been puzzled, but never desperate. If God allowed something to happen, he would be there in the middle of it and beside us no matter what happened.”

Biddy Chambers died in 1966 at the age of 82, knowing she had given her utmost talents for God’s highest good.

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