Procrastination is the thief of time – or so the saying goes. Though there can be benefits in pondering a question until the right answer declares itself.
In seeking to find a God-sized dream story that inspires me, I could have chosen someone from family, community, the great big world out there, or on-line.
Who might be a good role model for my dream of seeking to draw closer to God and discover His specific plan for me creatively and personally?
I have delved deep into the past and settled on my heroine. Her story gripped me when I first heard it and still does. She may be new to some of you, but I think you will be glad to have made acquaintance with her here.
I am introducing Amy Carmichael to you in the form of writing a personal letter to her:
Though we have never met, I have long admired and been inspired by your life. As a child, you yearned for the blue eyes of your brother in place of the brown ones God had seen fit to give you. It led to praying for their colour to change – a prayer that went unanswered. Years later, you saw your brown eyes as a gift. They enabled you to be accepted as an Irish woman missionary in India. I love God’s sense of humour, don’t you? He takes our weaknesses (real or imagined) and makes them His strengths.
In your early years as part of a mill-owning Protestant family, the oldest of 7 children, you revealed signs of the later spirit and courage you possessed in climbing upon the slate roof of your house – much to the bemusement (and horror no doubt) of your parents.
As a teenager, you received a clear revelation that our focus should be on the Eternal rather than the temporary and temporal. It was a defining moment that led to you starting up a Sunday School to aid female factory workers to learn about the God you loved. The banner in the church hall became a motto for the rest of your life:
“That in all things He may have the pre-eminence”
This led you to accept a clear calling on your life to be a missionary, even though it meant leaving behind your home and beloved family, for which you felt responsible since your mother died when you were only 18. The expectations from them, as well as the times you lived in, must have been very hard to press past. But God whispered close,“Go”, and it was His voice above all that you heeded.
How I admire your persistence and courage in obeying His calling upon your life, no matter what it looked like to others.
You started your foray into missionary work in Japan, where you soon adapted yourself by clothing and lifestyle to their customs. Though succumbing to the sickness termed ‘Japan Head’ scuppered plans to stay more than a year. England received you for a while and then you began your life’s mission by going to India.
There, you battled heat, hunger, poverty, sickness and disease, as well as rejection due to your gender and society’s expectations of you. Once you discovered the appalling situation of abandoned children, potential victims of infanticide, raised for the sole purpose of becoming Temple prostitutes, you determined to rescue them from their fate.
In setting up the Dohnavur Fellowship you had a home, refuge and safe place in which to welcome, love, raise, educate and spiritually nurture these precious souls. This grew beyond your wildest dreams to become an Internationally recognised, supported and acclaimed organisation.
As their ‘Amma’ – Mother – you provided all that was lacking in their lives
A place where all are welcomed with love and understanding, each new child dedicated to the Lord in prayer. Your goal – to lead each one to their Saviour. In time, a hospital, House of Prayer, workshops and other facilities appeared on the mushrooming site.
Housemothers and children leaving the House of Prayer after Sunday Service
I’m so pleased that our church had and still does have links and input to the Dohnavur Fellowship. We have sent a missionary nurse to work there in the past and currently have someone on the board of trustees and others who input the Education, Music Therapy and Information Technology areas of the development.
Children at break in Jeevalia School
There is so much about your life, courage, commitment, dedication to God’s calling, determination to press past obstacles in your way, love for our Saviour and tireless pursuit of your God-sized dream that inspires me.
But one thing impacts me most of all in a personal way.
You suffered from neuralgia and knew what it was to feel weak, achy and be confined to bed for periods at a time – similar to me with M.E and Fibromyalgia. Yet this did not deter you from becoming a missionary. Then you had an accident in which you were critically injured and remained so for the rest of your life. For 20 years you endured being seriously incapacitated, bedridden and in constant pain.
“Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties. When the wind blows hard on a tree, the roots stretch and grow the stronger. Let it be so for us. Let us not be weaklings, yielding to every wind that blows, but strong in spirit to resist” ~ Amy Carmichael
Though you longed to push on and do so much, you heeded God saying, in essence, that while you couldn’t do This, you could do That. How I wish I could live with the same equanimity you showed to your trials with my own physical weakness and pain.
Those trials birthed something beautiful. Some of your greatest writing on suffering and the mercy of the cross came from bondage to your bedroom. You surrendered graciously to the new role as powerful letters, books and poems flowed from a heart open to receive whatever God had in store for her.
Amy Carmichael’s room and garden view
How to sum up a life well-lived in pursuit of God’s dream for her?
So much more could be said.
These are the things I am learning from your example, Amy:
A deep abiding love for God and others
Ability to adapt to changing circumstances
Seeking to follow wherever God leads
Being creative and productive no matter what
I salute you, Amy Carmichael, Eshet Chayil: Woman of Valour, the last word belongs to you:
“You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving” ~ Amy Carmichael