"Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future." Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers’s Message of Hope in the Midst of War

One hundred years ago, the war to end all wars ended, leaving the world a very different place, and, ironically, setting the stage for the next world war. Geographic boundaries would shift and entire countries would be swallowed up or renamed, but even more seismic changes were at work in the spiritual realm as hearts were softened and minds were startled awake by the devastation and loss of life.

Oswald Chambers is best known for the classic devotional work My Utmost for His Highest, but some of his most important pastoral work happened against the backdrop of World War I as he ministered to troops stationed in Egypt. In A Poppy in Remembrance, Michelle Ule, author of the biography covering the life of Chambers’s wife Biddy, has applied her sanctified imagination to a subject she knows well–the lives of Oswald and Biddy Chambers–and has created a cast of realistic and relatable characters who were impacted by the Chambers’s ministry.

A Story and a Message

Claire Meacham grew up to the staccato of typewriters and the echoing excitement of whatever was in the news as she traveled the world with her father Jock, collecting stories for the Boston Newspaper Syndicate. Radcliffe-educated and American-born, Claire ached to see her own byline in newsprint, but, stationed in a conservative London newsroom, found herself perpetually thwarted by cultural bias and her parents; insistence that she devote herself to more “appropriate” womanly pursuits. Given the task of transcribing notes from her father’s war reporting, Claire was haunted by the appalling numbers of casualties and the descriptions of war on a colossal scale, and, after hearing biblical truth through Chambers’ ministry, she turned to Christ, first as a coping mechanism to survive the war, but ultimately as a Savior and reliable Guide for her future.

Ule anchors her characters in early 20th century England and France with vivid multi-sensory descriptions of honking taxis and rumbling horse drawn transports that combined for nose-assaulting bedlam — this along with an affluent socialite aunt who played bridge with “Clemmie” Churchill and a worship service in which Robert E. Lee’s disenfranchised daughter turns up veiled in black and wandering Europe.

Relevant Counsel from Chambers

Chambers’s counsel to Claire in her spiritual pilgrimage comes directly from the pages of his sermon notes, so not only does it ring true, but it applies to present day believers as well:

“I find it helps to brood on the unknown and let it sit in your soul.” (33)

“Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. Every power of body, soul, and spirit are chained and kept for God’s purpose.” (121)

Through Claire’s eyes, the reader experiences the heat, the lice, and the drills of soldiers deployed in Egypt and also the heartache and terror of the European front that hit close to home and left grief in its wake. With nearly 17 million deaths all tolled, many emerged from their experience of World War I without hope. Even the poppies that sprouted from soil churned by tanks and soldiers’ boots were taken as a symbol of the war and a sign that beauty can, indeed, survive ugliness, but lasting hope comes only through submitting one’s entire life to the God who already owns it.

Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future with Him.”        ~Oswald Chambers   (397)

Many thinks to the author for providing this book to facilitate my review which is, of course, offered freely and with complete honesty.

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase A Poppy in Remembrance or Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional, simply click on the title here or within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Photo of poppies by Monica Galentino on Unsplash

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44 thoughts on “Oswald Chambers’s Message of Hope in the Midst of War”

  1. Michele,
    Any book that weaves in the words of Oswald Chambers is worth taking a look at. I love this “Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view….” We always think there’s our point of view and their point of view, but reaching to see things through God’s eyes…now that’s growth. Love his words and sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing…
    Bev xx


    1. My only regret, Bev, is that I did not manage to get this book read and reviewed in time for Veteran’s Day. It would have been a perfect read for this 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.


  2. I love a story with a message, Michele. How interesting that the author wove a story around the lives of real people she researched and wrote about previously – the Oswald’s. Your reviews are always so well done – now I have another book to add to my ‘to read’ list!


  3. I just finished reading this book also! It was everything you described so well. It seems that I always get so involved with characters in the fictional stories that I read, but this time it went even deeper, since the story was interwoven with favorite real characters. What a joy to find them living here again on your post today! 🙂 “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.” One of my favorite Chambers’ quotes. Blessings to you and your family this Christmas, Michele!


  4. I read Oswald Chambers biography about 20 or so years ago and found it to be very interesting and inspirational, Michele. I’m sure that Biddy’s would be just as great a read! Thanks for sharing and I’ll be pinning!


  5. I’ve been reading several books on the WW’s and one of the things that have been astounding to me is that a large majority of the military personnel died not from combat but from accidents. My husband was telling me that a report from the first Gulf War said the same thing. I can only imagine the need to be able to process all of that and a need for something more to cling to in the midst of all the madness. Visiting from #LMMLinkUp


    1. That’s a sobering statistic, for sure. World War I showed the world what it looks like when you can kill a lot of people from a distance. Sadly, war has not become prettier in the past 100 years.


  6. What a beautiful Oswald Chambers quote! You have me intrigued about the biography on Biddy. (I remember your sharing it earlier in the year.) Will have to check out the Poppy in Remembrance book; it sounds like something I’d enjoy!


  7. yeah, this right here –> “I find it helps to brood on the unknown and let it sit in your soul.”

    i’m still in process of learning to sit with what is true … but not stay there so terribly long that it becomes burdensome.

    always learning …


  8. Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost …” was one of the first devotional books I ever read. It impacted me greatly at a time when my life was truly a mess! Thanks for sharing this review. As always, it makes me want to read it sooner rather than “someday.”


  9. I love the wooed you shared by Oswald Chambers. There is hope in his words. This part is my favorite —-> Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future with Him.

    May we let go of what is gone and look to the future knowing God is with us.


    1. Where did your grandfather fight? Mine was in England, and he was made an “offer” by an English lady who would have liked to have married that young Canadian guy, but his mum was home with a houseful of younger siblings and needed him there. Family history is so fascinating, and world wars really toss the apples up into the air!


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