Longhaulers of Faith
Marti Wibbels, MS, LMHC
People suffering long-term complications from Covid-19 are known as “longhaulers,” with numerous long-term symptoms, from fatigue to respiratory difficulties. We need to pray for them and help them and their families in any way we can.
In a time when many are terrified of Covid’s ramifications, we can choose to be a different kind of “longhauler.” Rather than living in fear, we can be “longhaulers of the faith,” allowing Jesus to infect our lives so thoroughly that we exhibit His presence wherever we are.
Born in Scotland in 1874, Oswald Chambers was a “longhauler.” He said, “We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness.” Explaining what he meant, he cited 1 Peter 1:16, it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’
Oswald Chambers seldom wrote about himself, but what he did write reflected his experiences, which is why his poem (below) indicates he may have had the respiratory illness then known as consumption. Later referred to as tuberculosis (TB), at the turn of the 20th century it was called “The Great White Plague.”
Edinburgh, September 14, 1896
Yes, just for tonight,
Tomorrow, with the light,
I’m sure to be all right,
Don’t you think I will?
Yes, just for this year,
Because they say they fear
The cost will be too dear,
So I’m waiting—till!’
Yes! From the still white bed,
Came whispered from the dead,
‘Til to God you’re led,
Waiting, wistful still.’
Plagues and pandemics are not new to our time. Today and every day, it’s vital to wait on God, allowing Him to direct our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions, while entrusting our lives into His perfect care. Like Oswald Chambers, we can live to glorify God wherever we are. As Oswald said, “Never allow the thought ‘I am of no use where I am.’ You certainly are of no use where you are not.”
Instead of focusing on fears or problems, we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his purpose. For he knew all about us before we were born and he destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son. This means the Son is the oldest among a vast family of brothers and sisters who will become just like him (Romans 8:28-29, TPT).
This “vast family” includes all believers throughout time, and one of my favorite eternal “family members” is Oswald’s wife Biddy Chambers, born in Kent, England, in 1883 (and living until 1966). Because her 50-year-old father died when she was a teenager, Gertrude (“Truda” to her family and later, “Biddy,” or “BD”— Beloved Disciple—to Oswald) quit school early to help support her family (and to avoid missing school due to her long winter bouts of bronchitis). Studying independently to find employment, she trained herself to take dictation at the incredible rate of 250 words per minute—faster than most people talk. Her goal was to become secretary for the Prime Minister of England, but God used her astonishing skills for our benefit instead.
In 1908, while traveling on the S.S. Baltic to work as a secretary in America, Gertrude was on board the same ship as Oswald, traveling to America to preach. Though they’d known each other as family friends, the voyage to America began a new journey, their conversations at dinner and during walks on deck beginning their transition from casual friendship to being in love.
Married in 1910, their daughter Kathleen was born in 1913. During World War I, God called Oswald to serve as YMCA chaplain in Egypt for British troops stationed there. Biddy took flawless dictation of his sermons, capturing every word as well as the context and emotion of his messages to the troops. In 1917, after Oswald died suddenly at age 43, following an emergency appendectomy in Cairo, Biddy continued the ministry in Egypt for nearly two years. In 1919, she and Kathleen returned to England, taking boxes and boxes of his messages with them.
After losing her beloved Oswald, Biddy could have plummeted into self-pity, but she’d already learned to trust God with loss when her father died. Instead of despair, she determined to transform her copious notes of Oswald’s rich messages into books. Faithfully transcribing page after page of her verbatim shorthand, she eventually composed a staggering total of 31 books, each naming Oswald as author. His daily devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest,” has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide since its initial publication in 1927.
None of us knows the future, but God does! In “My Utmost for His Highest,” Oswald’s June 25th devotional offers practical tools for living with “long-haul” faith:
…what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. ‘Father, glorify Your name.’ (John 12:27-28).
“As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour.”