Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, has a remarkable circulation and is considered probably the most well-known and beloved Christian devotional. It was first published in 1927 in the United Kingdom and has been in print ever since. It has been officially translated into 39 languages, with over 13 million copies sold.
Oswald Chambers was born in 1874 in Aberdeen, Scotland. At the age of 15, he became a Christian, inspired by Charles Spurgeon’s sermons. Between 1907 and 1910 he joined the Methodist revivalist movement, which emphasised the Christian’s call to a life transformed by the presence of Christ. During World War I, Chambers was the YMCA chaplain for Australian and New Zealand troops in Egypt. A pulmonary haemorrhage and complications due to the delayed treatment of appendicitis (in order not to occupy a war hospital bed) caused his death on November 15, 1917, and he was buried in Cairo.
In the years that followed, his wife selected and published excerpts from the courses and lectures she had stenographed, and sent them to acquaintances. Following their encouragement, she edited several books, of which My Utmost for His Highest was the most famous.
The book presents the life of the Christian lived in the rigour of a relationship with God, a life that pulsates not emotionally, but with the lucidity of God’s presence, and is guided by the words of Scripture. The intention is to arouse and explore man’s best response to the divine proposition. How do I prepare for this call every day? How would my life and behaviour change, given the supreme I am called to, towards the moral and spiritual zenith?
Chambers’ style brings us back to the atmosphere of the expressions belonging to the spiritual awakenings of his day, in which the spirit of pious, genuine desires still reverberated. Living out the gospel undiluted by the easy or rewarding zeitgeist was a goal that many took seriously. The sharpness of Chambers’ remarks is reminiscent of Hebrews 4:12. This discourse is courageous and prophetic, provoking Christians to reconsider themselves from the divine perspective, rather than the secular one, with the intention of an assertively practised faith, convincingly verified by one’s way of life.
The applicability of his practical observations and the clarity of analysis give substance to the text, and the rhetorical excellence, depth, and density of ideas, presented concisely and clearly, have enshrined this book in classical Christian literature.
However, these stylistic qualities test the rather hasty or less philosophically inclined reader, and as such the original classic text has been adapted into a language closer to contemporaneity, with the approval of the Oswald Chambers Publishing Association. Therefore, two editions are circulating today—a classic and an updated one.
Laurenţiu Nistor is a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a doctoral student in theology.