Judith Nicholls writes ...
Some more thoughts
Biography is edifying in so far as it points us to God. But to what extent is it prescriptive? Should we try to replicate the experiences of others in our own lives? We live dependent on God’s Word. God does sometimes intervene with special guidance but my own experience, and I think that of these women, is that it is usually when a particularly difficult situation lies ahead. We do have an amazing God but we must beware of asking him to continually prove it.
This book is worth reading as an introduction to the lives of these five women. Noël Piper challenges readers to live lives that authenticate their profession of faith. It is a very easy read with “bite size” sections under helpful sub-headings and very well referenced. But I must confess to some reservations. I found Piper’s own voice intrusive in directing the thinking of the reader. I would have liked more facts and less romantic speculation on God’s dealing with the women. How did Lilias Trotter use her artistic talent to produce acceptable literacy material for Muslims?
Some of the longer biographies on which Piper bases her work are worth investigating Elizabeth Dodds’ Marriage to a Difficult Man is a much more “warts and all” account of the Edwards’ marriage. The Small Woman, written by a journalist Alan Burgess, about Gladys Aylward is sympathetic but interestingly it was written for a secular readership. No Graven Image by Elisabeth Elliot, not strictly speaking a biography, nevertheless gives a searingly honest insight into missionary service.