In this post I shared that one of my goals for the school year was to finally read aloud through six books in the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series as part of our curriculum. And first up on our list in the series was Amy Carmichael, Rescuer of Precious Gems, who is most known for her work as a missionary to India.
I read to the girls at lunch time because that’s when I’m fresh and not fatigued. I wasn’t elated about reading the book but I was happy to be doing it. It felt right. And that gave me a great deal of satisfaction. I want my kids to love good literature and enjoy books. And I especially want them to be encouraged in their faith by reading about courageous Christians.
Well, I read a chapter at a time – sometimes two, depending on how into the story they were. Then, this past week, we had only four chapters left and the strangest thing began to happen to me. As I neared the last chapter this overwhelming sense of sadness came over me. I literally did not want the book to end. I think that’s because I knew that I would have to say good bye to Amy – I knew she was going to die.
I don’t want to be a spoiler, so just in case you decide to read this book I won’t get too descriptive here, but in the second to last chapter something happens to Amy which completely floored me as a Christian. I was not expecting that – what happened to her – and I began to struggle with seeing God as just and fair.
I was shocked that I felt that way in my heart. Very little, if anything at all, has ever made me question God’s sense of justice. Yet now, as I sat there holding the book in front of my girls I found myself wrestling and asking (internally) “How can this be, Lord?”
As I thought about Amy’s reality (though it happened over 75 years ago) tears started to flood my eyes. I couldn’t keep reading. I had to pause while explaining to my girls that it’s okay to cry.
As I came to the close of that chapter I dreaded starting the final chapter because I knew we were going to say “Good Bye” to Amy. It’s so funny: I thought the whole time I was reading I was having an academic experience, I didn’t know that I was being so profoundly impacted spiritually. I didn’t know that Amy’s life was challenging my faith – challenging me to examine the way I live my life for Christ. What exactly are we doing with our one wild and precious life . . . for Christ?
I read up to the very last page, chocking back tears, unsuccessfully, until I could no longer hold them back. Finally, I asked Autumn to read the last page while I just sat there crying – outwardly, while inwardly sobbing and wrestling.
There’s so much that I could say about Amy Carmichael and the sacrificial, Christ led life she lived, but I’ll have to save that for another post. What I will say is that this book is well worth reading, and if you read it prayerfully, it may rattle you and shake you to your core as you contrast the Gospel presented within it pages with the American version of the Gospel so prevalent in today’s society.
I don’t know how the other five books in the series will impact me or my girls but I’m definitely looking forward to reading them. Tomorrow, we begin reading about Gladys Aylward, missionary to China. My girls can’t wait.