Friday, April 4, 2008

Faithful Woman and their Extraordinary God: book review

One of the books I finished recently (yes, I actually finished a book!) was Noel Piper's Faithful women and their extraordinary God.

It's a gem, not least because it will make you want to read more Christian biography. It includes 5 short biographies of Christian women: Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim, and Helen Roseveare.

I won't spoil the suspense for you by telling you their stories - buy it and read it for yourself! - and anyway, I think different things will speak to different readers.

I was struck by two of the women in particular:

- Lilias Trotter, who gave up a promising career in art (the well-known artist and philosopher John Ruskin told her she could be the greatest painter of her time) to become a missionary in Algeria.

How often during 8 years of motherhood I have felt a sense of regret because of the training I haven't been able to use, and the interests I haven't been able to pursue! As Noel Piper says, "For me, it's been especially true in my years with small children - 'I got a college degree for this?" Maybe our problem is the way we see ourselves. Maybe we think more highly of ourselves than we ought." (p.172)

It was encouraging to read about this faithful woman, who gave up what was good for what was better.

- Helen Roseveare, a missionary doctor in Africa, who found that God worked more powerfully through her weaknesses than her strengths: building hospitals alongside Africans when she longed to practise her medical skills, struggling to find time to speak of the gospel but discovering local Christians doing it for her, seeking forgiveness again and again for her hasty temper, being nursed through frequent illnesses and receiving rebuke and encouragement from those she came to help.

Like me, she was a perfectionist, and needed to learn to see God's grace and power in her sin and weakness. As Noel Piper says, "seeing the battles in someone else's life ... can give us perspective to understand clearly our own struggles." (p.170)

Whatever your struggles, there is probably a woman in this book who experienced similar temptations and trials. I found this book inspiring: I'm sure you will too.

1 comment:

Miranda said...

This sounds great. I'm keen to read some biographies. I've put it on my present list!