Monday, December 17, 2012

If, by Amy Carmichael

Years ago - eleven, to be precise! - my friend and birthday buddy, KH, gifted me with a copy of Amy Carmichael's If. She wrote a little note on the inside cover and I've kept it (and will continue to keep it) as a reminder of her friendship. Oh, and I'll also keep it to re-read from time to time to remind myself of the lessons which are contained in these brief statements. Carmichael wrote each of these statements/questions specifically to share amongst those she fellowshipped with as a missionary in India. Then, in time, she decided to publish them to distribute to the wider world.

Now, I have to confess that I am not a big Amy Carmichael fan. I read a biography of her as a child and liked her. Then, as an adult, I read the biography of her which was written by Elizabeth Elliot and I promptly began to dislike her. (I wrote a review of A Chance to Die back in 2006 for a different book club/blog which you can read if you like. It explains more fully the issues I have with her beliefs. Please read it knowing that don't quite write reviews exactly like that one anymore. ;)

Regardless of my more negative feelings about Carmichael, I still think she had a great deal of wisdom to share and does so in this tiny booklet (which you can also find online for free). The book is full of thought provoking and self examining questions such as these:

If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any;
If I can speak in a casual way even of a child's misdoings,
then I know nothing of Calvary's love.

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith,
about one who has disappointed me;
If I say, "Just what I expected," if a fall occurs,
then I know nothing of Calvary's love.

If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery;
If stupid people fret me and little ruffles set me on edge;
If I make much of the trifles of life,
then I know nothing of Calvary's love.

Each of these are little nuggets of gold that I find useful to pull out and examine myself with from time to time. These questions are not scripture and should not be read as such, but can be used as a tool - much like a sermon - to remind yourself what the Word of the Lord says so that you can conform to it.

Being that I'm not dead yet, I have plenty to learn about God, the Christian life and love itself. I appreciate that my friend gifted me with this little missionary gem because she cared about me and my Christian walk. Also, the statements are so convicting that I've found a yearly refresher with this booklet to be healthy! (To give you an idea of this booklet's size, it will take a fast reader all of 15 minutes to chomp through the book.)

If you've never looked this one up, you might consider it. Especially if you are also still alive. ;)


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Sounds like something I need to read!

Barbara H. said...

I debated about whether to comment on A Chance to Die here or there -- finally did so at you other link.

To me this book is best read at about a page a day. It's been a long while since I read it, and I think I do remember not agreeing with every little thing, but having some statements like these bring me up short.

Annette Whipple said...

Well...I was so wrapped up in the bio review that I had to reread here.

15 minutes sounds like a good dose of a quick reading of this. :)Sounds good!

Stephanie Kay said...

Interesting. I read A Chance to Die sometime within the last 10 years. I vaguely remember liking it enough that I wanted to read some of Amy's writings but disliking parts as well. The discussion in your linked to post about telling children about missionaries fascinates me. Growing up I remember holding missionaries in the highest of regards - on a pedestal really. Because they had given up everything familiar to go tell people about Jesus.

Then I attended a Southern Baptist college where missionary kids were a dime a dozen and realized that missionaries are no more saintly than the rest of us. They struggle with sin, relationships, and biases just like the rest of us. Now that I've been married to an MK for 15 years and seen the ins and outs of their family I can confirm that even more. We tell our children that missionaries are like everyone else - obeying God as best they can while making mistakes and sins along the way.

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