Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review: Oil in Our Lamps

I'm blessed to attend Fine Creek Baptist Church with Billy Brown. He's a deacon, and he participates in most everything that goes on at the church; still, he's a quiet, unassuming sort. I might not really know him today, but I began participating in prayer meeting, and prayer is Billy's deal. It's his thing.

Awhile back, I heard some talk about Billy's family publishing the journals of his great-great-grandmother, and I asked Billy if I could have a read; thus, he passed to me a textbook-sized book (534 pages!) called Oil In Our Lamps: The Journals of Mary Davis Brown from the Beersheba Presbyterian Church Community of York, SC, 1854-1901.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to read this book. It's not an easy read; the journal entries have been typed just as Mary (who had a third-grade education) penned them. The bigger issue for me, though, is in keeping up with who's who; Mary mentions many people (calling them, often, by different names), and most of them share their first names with others.

But--as we all know--most worthwhile things don't come easily. Mary writes both wisdom and big faith. I feel inspired by the desperate way in which she clings to God in the face of fire and flood; flu, cancer, Diptheria, Meningitis, Pertussis, and insanity; suicide, hanging, infant mortality, death by choking, and death from various illnesses; the loss of her parents, husband, four children, and more than two dozen grandchildren; political unrest and immediate family members at war; family members relocating to different states; and discord in the church.

I feel inspired, too, in witnessing the legacy of Mary's faith as it plays out in her great-great-grandson: a deacon and prayer warrior, my friend Billy Brown. I believe God continues to answer the prayers Mary penned for her family, prayers like: "I pray that we will meet an unbroken family in theire Heavenly Farthers house, in the manshion that Christ has gone to prepare fore all them that love and serve him in spirit and in truth" (149).

If Mark Batterson challenges me, Mary Davis Brown drives home the point: think long. Pray and write not only for today but for one hundred years (and beyond!) from now. I want to be deliberate in considering my great-great-grandchildren...

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