When I was eighteen, I read a book* that became a defining influence upon my life. It was a biography written by Elisabeth Elliot about the life of Amy Carmichael who was missionary to India in the early 1900s. As a young woman in Ireland, Amy felt God calling her to give up the pursuits and pleasures of the world and become fully consecrated to Him.
It felt like one of those kinds of days… Everything seemed off from the moment I saw the sunlight peeking through the blinds. I woke up with a splitting headache after a night of little sleep, and the kids were having squabbles left and right.
The April sunshine was tipped with the faintest hint of chill – perfect weather for a brisk walk around the block. I laced up my tennis shoes and fell into step, noticing the friendly dandelions dotting the border of the road as I went.
I sat in a wing-back chair by the blazing fireplace, surrounded by friends on a Wednesday night; our weekly life-group meeting was underway. As I read aloud from Acts 2, I caught myself pausing when I came to verse 42: “...and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42, NIV).
I grew up in church. Week after week I heard how important the Bible was to the Christian life, the problem was no one taught me how to study it. During my teen years, I read it through a few times, hoping that would suffice. I asked people around me how they studied, but it was little more than reading.
My afternoon nap ended abruptly as I awoke to a constriction in my chest, difficulty breathing, and a general sense of panic flooding through my body. “Something’s wrong…” was all I could say to my husband before I began to weep uncontrollably.
The air felt oppressively hot and sticky. A haze of dust and grime engulfed me as I watched dirty, half-naked children scamper around the rows of ramshackle cardboard houses. It was hard to fathom that hundreds of people actually lived in this cramped, filthy neighborhood — one of many “colonias” (poor, make-shift communities) near Juarez, Mexico. Most of the ho