Influencers-Oswald Chambers

Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

This is Oswald Chambers. He was born July 24, 1874 in Aberdeen, Scotland and died in Egypt on November 15, 1917. That was one year before my mother was born; very surreal.

Mr. Chambers was a minister and he was also an artist and musician. He wrote only three books in his lifetime and he was not widely known. This gives me hope, I trust not in arrogance, that my feeble attempts to shout God’s grace and mercy for any who will listen will not be limited to my span of time on this earth.

I hope in this because unknown to Oswald Chambers, his classic work, “My Utmost for His Highest,” was used by God to shout His grace and mercy into my battered and broken soul.

My copy of “My Utmost for His Highest” was given to us (hubby and me) as a wedding gift 32 years ago. It was in its 54th printing. The original copyright is 1935, but the book was first published in England in 1927. It was his wife, Biddy Chambers (Gertrude Hobbs) who summarized his talks from her extensive shorthand notes. The inscription placed in the book reads, “To the students of the Bible Training College.”

I remember trying to read this timeless book in our first year of marriage. I didn’t get it. It wasn’t just the old early century style that hindered my understanding. My own spiritual shallowness was the main reason I put the book down and placed it back on the shelf for a long time. You may well guess that if I wasn’t able to read Oswald Chambers I didn’t do much better with the Holy Word of God and you would be right.

Oh I read my Bible, of course. Don’t all good Christian wives, mothers and Sunday School teachers read their Bibles? But I didn’t get it!

I didn’t get GRACE! Oh, I knew I was saved by grace and grace alone. I just didn’t get grace in everyday living. How could I? I was so filled with bitterness, anger and resentment I had no room for God’s grace in my life or in anyone else’s life. I and those around me were indeed most miserable.

But God did not let go of me. Day after day, layer after layer God peeled away all the angst that hid His light in me. Finally that Light pierced through and declared His Word clearly into my heart and soul. Now I could pick up His Word and “My Utmost for His Highest” and understand how grace and mercy freed me to live my life as a holy and acceptable sacrifice before an Almighty God.

I’ve given many books away over the years, but “My Utmost for His Highest” remains with me as a supplement to God’s Word and as a reminder of God’s amazing unmerited favor to me a sinner saved and sustained by grace!

When  Mr. Chambers taught at the Bible Training College did he know? Did he have any inkling or hope or aspiration that his shouts for God’s grace and mercy would touch a life of  a young woman 70 years later?

At this moment only God knows the answer to that question. But oh how I look forward to eternity and the time I will see God unfold before my spiritually awakened eyes the dots He connected between Oswald Chambers and me!

(As part of the Turn Write Series, I hope to share more of the authors who have influenced my writing and my life. I’d love to hear about who has influenced you.)

I Can’t Do This!

Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

I Can’t Do This!

The other day I was sitting at our community pool preparing to do some laps. I was delayed by the unfolding scene at the edge of the pool. A boy about 12 wanted to learn to dive. His three companions were doing their best, I assume, to help him learn this skill.

In a few minutes, the discouraged lad moaned, “I can’t do this!”

The girl of the group immediately encouraged, “Yes you can. Just do this…” and proceeded to provide her friend with more advice.

He tried again. Not much better.

He lamented again, “I can’t do this.”

Again, his friends offered encouragement and advice. This went on for about ten minutes.

Eventually the boy gave up and so did the group. They all moved to wrestling in the water; doesn’t require as much concentration.

I was about to get in the water when the twelve year old came once again to the deep end, placed himself into a low body diving position and tried again. He did it…sort of.

The others genuinely gave him praise, gave him even more advice and challenged him to try again. Even though he was smiling, he declined and went back to wrestling. I think he was tired of all their advice and would wait for a moment to try again on his own.

This scene may not seem to have anything to do with writing or accomplishing anything in life, but after the morning I had it was a lesson in living color. Let me explain.

Just when I thought I was making some head way in figuring out the book world, I was knocked back just a little with a small caution given in grace. The problem wasn’t in the caution itself or the presentation, it was the little child’s voice inside me that said, “See, you can’t do this.”

And this voice was persistent which was annoying and disproportionate considering the minimal circumstances.  Instead of just brushing off the little voice, I decided to seek what was gnawing at me. And I found it.

I’ve spent the last two years learning all I can about writing (fiction and non-fiction) and publishing (traditional, indie and self-pub). I’ve listened to lots and lots of advice. Most of it has been very good and wonderful. Some of it is a little confusing and conflicting. And just a little wasn’t very helpful. Often it has been overwhelming and nagging feelings of “I can’t do this” keep me from taking necessary next steps, just like the boy at the pool.

It isn’t that I can’t do it. I have the skill, I have the final product (books), I have good advice and plenty of encouragement. My problem is I need to move from the advice, however good, and take concrete action.

In other words, I need to be like the boy at the pool. On my own, I need to take all my research, all the advice and move to the edge of pool, get into position, push all my failures and setbacks aside and just dive in.

Want to dive in with me?

Turn Write Series with Guest Morgan L. Busse

Morgan L. Busse is passionate about authentic Christianity and shares from her own life her fears and triumphs as a follower of Jesus Christ. The wife of a pastor and mother to four children, she has plenty of adventures to draw from. Along with blogging, Morgan also writes speculative fiction and released her debut book, Daughter of Light, with Marcher Lord Press. You can visit Morgan at


When I first started writing Christian speculative fiction, it was more a playground for my imagination than anything else. A way to play with some cool fantasy ideas. But as the years went by and I found my life traveling down dark roads and facing one crisis of faith after another, my fantasy novel Daughter of Light began to morph into an exploration of what it ultimately meant to trust God.

By writing speculative fiction, I bypass some of the things that “classify” Christianity, such as church attendance, Bible studies, and Sunday school. Now I’m not saying those are bad (not at all), but sometimes our Christianity is defined by where we go or what we do, instead of by who we are.

Who we are reveals itself when the hard times come. We change for good or bad through the trials we face. And through the process, the one another of forgiving is what I find personally the hardest to fulfill.

Forgive one another, just as Christ has forgiven you. Easy to read, hard to do. Why? Because some of the bad things that happen to us are the result of other people. Their actions and words leave a deep scar on our soul. Sometimes It’s unintentional, simply a part of their personality that cuts us. Yet other times it is intentional, leaving us feeling shot in the back. Either way, the only way to heal is by forgiveness.

I know many writers do not write themselves into their characters, but I do. I feel in order to fully and genuinely explore issues, I must place myself in my character’s life and share my own heart and experiences. When I write about Rowen’s feelings of isolation and anger, I know those feelings. And the scene where she is freed from her bitterness, I drew from my own experience of finally letting go and trusting God with my life.

Forgiveness is a choice, but also a process. It takes time. Pain hurts, even when you have been a Christian for a long time. One of my characters, Captain Lore, has followed the Word for years. But when he watches the man he loves like a father die at the hand of an assassin, he buries the hurt. He thinks he’s fine, until the day he meets the assassin again. Then all the bitterness comes out like puss in a wound. I won’t reveal more since this happens in the next book, but I can say it won’t be an easy journey for him

Truly forgiving someone who has hurt you in real life is a painful process. First, you have to choose to forgive. That in and of itself is a hard choice. Then you have to keep on forgiving-to release the hurt. This can be daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute procedure when you remember the pain. Fall on your knees and give the pain to God, and forgive. Trust God to make things right in the end. And that end might not come in this lifetime or world.

Ultimately what gives me strength to forgive is remembering how much God has forgiven, not just me, but everyone. If the Jesus I follow can forgive the Pharisees and the many other people who spit on him, hit him, and hung Him on a cross, then I can forgive too.

The saying, “Time heals all wound” is true. Eventually it becomes easier. You find a year later that you don’t think about it as much. The bitter feelings toward the person or situation start to ease. That’s not to say you don’t remember. There will always be a scar. But the wound itself has finally healed, with no lingering bitterness.

I love writing because it gives me the ability to explore real life in a different setting, allows me to see how forgiveness is crucial to my life, and the life of my characters. Thank you for going on the journey.