Monday, August 30, 2010

what I'm reading: No Ordinary View

I've just finished No Ordinary View by Naomi Reed, about this Sydney missionary's recent 3 years in the Himalayas. Last year I read My Seventh Monsoon, about her earlier years in Nepal, and I enjoyed both books.

What I like best about Naomi's books is that she's an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances. I usually find missionary biographies daunting. The women in them sound impossibly hard-working, brave, self-sacrificing, godly and full of faith, far distant from the daily realities of my life. Naomi, on the other hand, is an Aussie Christian I can imagine being friends with, a woman who loves God and serves him faithfully, but who struggles with fear and doubt and raising three kids in a foreign land.

The two books I've read by Naomi encouraged me in different ways. The theme of My Seventh Monsoon is seasons, and that's what I took away from it: a realisation that life has many different seasons, not just classic ones like child-rearing or empty-nesting, but also seasons of suffering, change and refreshment, none lasting forever, each with its own demands and blessings.

The theme of No Ordinary View is treasures, the jewels of truth to be found in every experience, but especially the dark times of life. Instead of giving you one long quote today, I'd like to share some of the treasures I uncovered in Naomi's words.

If I could somehow learn to plant deeply in Nepal and keep my eyes on Australia, then perhaps I could also learn to plant deeply on this earth and keep my eyes on heaven...Being temporary...did make a difference to the way we lived. Although we were attaching ourselves to people, we weren't particularly attaching ourselves to things...We could appreciate them without being gripped by them. (60)

The only way to grow in patience is to walk a path where patience is required. (84)

It was more what he didn't pray. He didn't pray for...any kind of resolution to their problem...Instead, he prayed this, in the quietest voice I've ever heard. "Lord, when I'm most distressed, help me to bring glory to you." (87)

I realised that in the most part, I had put my confidence in almost everything but the Almighty God. I hadn't normally admitted to it, I had just done it very quietly. I had put my confidence in my home, my husband, my profession, my own ability to problem solve. But mostly, I had put my confidence in my home...On that morning...I realised that it was the first time that God alone was my refuge...In losing my home, I had found refuge in God. (119)

Finally, here's some words from a conversation with Philip Yancey that Naomi quotes:

You know, you can't save the world - you can only do the best you can with what's in front of you...And, as you go, point to the one who can save the world.

It's a quote which sums up Naomi's life, and also what I would like my life to be.

Thank you, Naomi.


Miranda Starkey said...

Naomi will be speaking at the CMS Summer Under the Son conference in January. Looking forward to it!

Jean said...

Sounds great, Miranda! (Nice to hear from you, by the way!!) Jean.