Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Things As They Are" book review

Our business is to tell the truth. The work is not a pretty thing, to be looked at and admired. It is a fight. And battlefields are not beautiful. But if one is truly called of God, all the difficulties and discouragements only intensify the Call. If things were easier there would be less need. The greater the need, the clearer the Call rings through one, the deeper the conviction grows: it was God's Call. And as one obeys it, there is the joy of obedience, quite apart from the joy of success. There is joy in being with Jesus in a place where His friends are few; and sometimes, when one would least expect it, coming home tired out and disheartened after a day in an opposing or indifferent town, suddenly—how, you can hardly tell—such a wave of the joy of Jesus flows over you and through you, that you are stilled with the sense of utter joy. Then, when you see Him winning souls, or hear of your comrades' victories, oh! all that is within you sings, "I have more than an overweight of joy!"
--Amy Carmichael in Things As They Are

I finished Amy Carmichael's book, Things As They Are, a while back, but I've been keeping it on my Kindle along with some notes, in order to share it with you all.

First, I have to confess that I am a book-worm, and I guess I've found my writing niche here. I'll keep giving you all book reviews, at least for now. I think I'll try to go in the direction of what is available free online. My Kindle is my favorite earthly possession  and I read free books on it almost exclusively. Even if you don't have a Kindle, the book I'm writing about today is available for you to read on your computer screen (not fun, but possible) or other device.

Amy Carmichael has been one of my heros since I was a young teenager. Back then I borrowed her books from the retired missionaries who lived near us, scoured the libraries for them, and did all kinds of interlibrary loans. And, yet, there are still gems of hers that I hadn't read yet. This is one of them.

Things As They Are is from the early days of Amy's ministry in India, from the time when she was still traveling with an evangelism team. She doesn't mince words in telling about how harsh life in India was then. An ongoing theme--obviously, since it's the title of the book--is telling people "back home" that mission work wasn't all sweetness and light.
You may not like my writing so plainly, but sometimes it seems as if only the bright side were given, and one feels that if God's praying people at home understood things more as they really are . . . more prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our agents and converts would ascend to God. . . .
And yet, it's not depressing. In her Victorian way, Amy slips around the very ugliest parts of her experiences and just leaves impressions of them with her readers. She also does a lovely job of lifting our eyes back to the Savior she loved so much and to the hope that He brings. There's a lovely balance in her writing here. It led me to think about modern blogging and a recurring discussion that I've seen in the blogging world: do we only share the good and the happy? How can we be real, but without dropping into constant negativity? Where is that balance?

Something else that I took away from reading this book is a renewed fire for missions. Funny, when I'm living this life, it's easy for it to become just that: daily life. I love my life here, but I need reminders to bring it back from just enjoying my own little home and family, and to turn that focus outward again, too. (Disclaimer: as a mother of young children, I'm not going to go running off on an ox cart to evangelize India... or Ukraine. But I'm sure you know what I mean. My heart and mind needed some refocusing.)
"Not mere pity for dead souls, but a passion for the Glory of God, is what we need to hold us on to Victory." Miss Lilias Trotter, Africa.
--quoted by Amy Carmichael
The photos in the book are a fascinating side bonus. Sometimes there are stories to go with them, explaining how they got these images with their early camera. It definitely wasn't the easy point and shoot type that we have today!

Do you love Amy Carmichael, too? (She seems to be a common role model!) What is your favorite of her books? Do you have a Kindle or other ereader? What are you reading these days?

I think I will be reading Lotus Buds next, if anyone else wants to read along.

1 comment:

  1. I DO love Amy Carmichael!! I read on my iPad using the Kindle app, mostly freebies from Amazon or other sites, and books publishers send me for review. I post the reviews at Great review for Things As They Are. I haven't read this one, but you tempt me to put it on my read-soon list! :)