Review by Steve Hyde
Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India. Once she arrived in India, she never went back to her home in Northern Ireland. She died in India after 55 years. She served in Tamil Nadu (southern), India.
The book “Candles in the Dark” is actually a collection of letters to her co-workers which she wrote. They were written to individuals and never intended for publication, but I am glad that they were. Much of the things she is talking to them about ring in my missionary heart too. Especially, she refers numerous times to the need for missionaries to learn to “fill in the gaps of time”. I refer to this as “ministering in the interruptions”. Amy told one missionary that she was disheartened because it seems to takes up to ten years for people to learn to “fill the gaps of time”. This is where ministry happens.
What she is referring to can be put another way as well. Each day you can set a schedule, but in a place like India, it is going to change at every moment. How you fill in those gaps of time, is crucial to being an effective minister of the love of Christ.
I loved her focus as well. Mind you, she wrote this and many of her other books while being bed-ridden. She was incapacitated for nearly twenty years and confined to her bed. During that time she continued to speak words of encouragement and strength the entire time. In a message to one missionary she said:
“It matters a good deal that your book-food should be strong meat. We are what we think about. Think about trivial things or weak things and somehow one loses fibre and becomes flabby in spirit. Soldiers need to be strong.
Soldiers have not time for everything. ‘I have no time for anything outside my profession,’ a young officer said once, and in measure that is true. We can’t be entangled in the affairs of this life if we are to be real soldiers. By its affairs I mean its chatter and its ways of thinking and deciding questions, its whole aspect and trend.” (p. 3)
I think this sums up pretty well why I read books. I want to be sharp. I want to learn more. I don’t read (and refuse to read) any fiction book, novel or anything that would be irrelevant to my life because I don’t have time for everything, so I chose books that help me grow.
I could say that the most consistent theme in this book is the need to love more. One can never love enough. Amy Carmichael lived an amazing life. Fortunately, she wrote so much that we have volumes of her words to continue to encourage us today. She has so many beautiful quotes and challenging verses. In closing, let me share one with you,
“One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving.” –Amy Carmichael
If this book is still in print, I would recommend it. Its older English will challenge some, but it would make a good devotional book.
P.S. The other day I asked a friend, “how many books have you read?”
They had to think and replied, “History, Social Studies, Biology”.
“I mean, since you finished school!”, I responded quickly.
“None”, was the answer. I felt sorry for them. We should strive to be sharp, strive to learn, and strive to grow. One of the easiest things we can do to improve ourselves is simply read books.