Book Review: To the Golden Shore

The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson

Adoniram Judson was the first American foreign missionary, who went to Burma as a young man of 21. He lived a fascinating life–the book is as thrilling as a novel, but it’s a true story of a man who dared to do a great thing for God, and will certainly inspire anyone who reads it. I know I was directed by the Lord to this book, and it is still on my mind a few months and several books later.

The book was written in the 1950’s, less than 100 years after Judson’s death, and well researched and detailed. Judson was raised a PK, but lost his faith after going away to college. He became a Deist, to his family’s great horror–his mother and sister wailed and cried, saying “Now you’ve ruined heaven for us, how do you expect us to enjoy ourselves there when we know you’re burning in hell?” I got a kick out of that. A real family! Good religious folks! The concept of Providence is often referred to by Judson throughout his life–the arranging of circumstances by God for His purposes to be accomplished. The story of Providence bringing him back to faith gave me goosebumps–it’s too far-fetched to be good fiction, but it was TRUE!

Adoniram and his young bride of 3 days sailed for Burma, never expecting to see home or family again. She didn’t. They lived lives of great sacrifice, and Adoniram was imprisoned and severely tortured at one time for a period of several months. But there was no hint of a martyr’s complex here–they were happy and fulfilled people.

Adoniram had three wives, the first two died due to the extreme challenges on the mission field. After the death of Nancy, his first wife, and the two children they had together, he went into a severe grief/depression that lasted three years. He actually dug a hole at one point, his own grave, next to theirs, and wanted to crawl into it and die. As I saw the grace of God pull him through the slough of despond and bring him to a deeper, richer experience, I knew that same grace would always be there for me no matter what. He took a second wife who bore him many children, and they were incredibly happy. After many years, she died on the ship taking the family to America–his first return in 33 years.

His third wife was a real surprise–read the book to find out about her!

Adoniram penned these words as he was sailing home to Emily, that third wife, and passed by the place of his first wife’s grave:

I seem to have lived in several worlds; but you are the earthly sun that illuminates my present. My thoughts and affections revolve around you, and cling to your form, and face, and lips. Other luminaries have been extinguished in death. I think of them with mournful delight, and anticipate the time when we shall all shine together as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars forever and ever.

But this book was not a love story particularly–it was a life story. More than anything else, I benefited by seeing that his life was not a snapshot of any particular moment, but a life lived, day by day, to the glory of God. When all was said and done, it was the composite, that made his life such a beautiful success. Adoniram Judson lived a life worth living, a life worthy of the calling with which he’d been called. He fulfilled his destiny. I can’t wait to meet him someday, and I know I will!

RATING: 5 stars * * * * * (I might give all my reviewed books 5 stars, as I will probably only write about those I really like! I will review my best loved books, not in any order, just as I take a notion.)