There is a quote floating around that says,
“You’ll be the same in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” -Charlie Jones
I read it the first time when I was fifteen. I was enthralled with the title, with the woman, with the dream of someday being like her.
It was not an easy book to read.
I struggled through dryness and waded through dialect that I could barely comprehend. But every time I thought to set it down — a phrase, a sentence or a paragraph would grip me and I would inhale and feel life float over me. It was a book about dying to self and living for Christ and by the time I finished it there was no changing the new course of my life. My heart was captured by her love story and I was determined to follow hard after God the same way.
It was this book that caused me to start writing. It was this book that opened my eyes to the mission field. It was this book that taught me the value of scars and pain and my desperate need for my Savior.
And most of all: it was this book that gave me my first five children.
I turned twenty that year. Plans to be financially capable of providing for myself on the mission field (I hoped to work at an orphanage in Haiti) had crumbled at my feet. I was a bit irritated with God.
Why did He ask me to give so much financially, when I was trying to give my whole life?
The house that I had bought and, at God’s direction, had given away, carried with it so many of my dreams. Mission work, apparently, hadn’t been in His plans. Now what? Did I go back to college? Did I get job?
Still, there were so many indications! I couldn’t seem to reconcile them all.
- A scrap of paper, picked up off the side of the road when I was walking and praying about mission work — one that said: “the harvest is ready but the workers are few…”
- The day I was at a youth meeting and the speaker, who I had never met, came up to me and said, “God wants you to go to the children.” Clear and plain as day.
- The dream Amy had of the Christians making daisy chains while blind people fell screaming over a cliff. It wouldn’t leave me alone. Kept echoing in my head.
One day I stopped to look up that dream in my worn copy of A Chance To Die and my gaze fell on a section that I had starred and underlined. The Shawlies.
Amy Carmichael worked in several countries before ending up in India, but long before she went anywhere — God sent her to the streets of her town. To the girls who were too poor to buy hats so they wrapped shawls around their heads. She befriended them and taught them and showed them Jesus.
Right there in her hometown.
I felt something in my heart shift. Okay, God. I finally prayed. I’ll go…here.
Through a strange set of circumstances, I ended up buying a little cottage on one of the worst streets in my town. I moved in with two other single girls and watched in wonder as God brought kids to my doorstep.
Including five beautiful little girls who I fell in love with.
We pulled them into our home and into our lives. We taught them. Sang over them. Danced through the living room with them. Gave them peppermint sticks and freezy pops. We held them while they cried and prayed over them when they were scared.
I’ve had many “children” over the years. Little ones that spend days and weeks and months with me…and teenage boys who call me Mom. But those five girls hold a special piece of my heart. I can remember the first time they hugged me. The first time they told me they loved me. The first time they sang a song to me. The first time they asked me about Jesus.
A Chance To Die changed my life. It changed how I think. It taught me that following God sometimes takes you next door. It taught me that having children may be something separate than bearing children. And it made me realize that I was already the mother that I dreamed of someday being.
What about you? Is there a book that has changed the course of your life? Tell me about it!