"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home." - C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Thrilling Life

If you could meet someone from history, who would it be?  I remember talking about this with a group of young adults recently, and I enjoyed hearing all their different answers!  A few chose people from the Bible (like Esther or David) and some chose historical Americans (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were popular with this group).

I know exactly who I would choose: Amy Carmichael.  I have always been fascinated by her life.  Set in the exotic backdrop of India, she had an amazing story of rescuing hundreds of children and watching the redemption of their souls occur right before her eyes.  What a thrilling life!

But Amy didn't always see it that way.  She did not move to India to spend time with children.  No, Amy entered India with big plans.  Burdened by the moral darkness of the land, Amy wanted to evangelize the masses that had been in spiritual bondage for so long.  Organizing a small group to go with her, Amy traveled India, spreading the Gospel everywhere she went.

But one by one, little girls in need were brought to Amy's attention and added to the little group.  Traveling evangelism became more and more difficult with little ones afoot, and Amy eventually began arranging for them to be cared for while she went on evangelistic excursions.   Gradually, she realized that even this would not work.

Amy believed God called her to India.  She was passionate about the little girls, yes, but felt her purpose in India was to preach.  Eventually she began to understand the Tamil proverb: "Children tie the mother's feet."

And so the days of traveling and boldly preaching the Gospel ended for Amy.  In its place, she began to take up the daily, monotonous tasks that mothers worldwide find monopolizing their days.  Now there were meals that needed cooking, clothes that needed sewing and washing and mending, children who needed tending.  It wasn't glamorous work.  There must have been so many days it did not feel exciting or exotic.

As the family grew - exponentially - these tasks were divided up.  But there was no task Amy would ask others to do if she was not willing to do it herself; she had come to understand the greatness of even these little tasks.  As she later wrote, acknowledging that Tamil proverb, "So we let our feet be tied for the sake of Him whose feet were pierced" (Gold Cord, by Amy Carmichael).

Maybe Amy Carmichael lived in faraway India.  Maybe she had responsibility for hundreds more children than anyone I have ever met.  But Amy was faithful where God called her - even when her ambitious plans did not line up with God's call on her life.

I may never go to India.  I will likely never be responsible for hundreds of children.  But I can choose to be faithful where God has placed me, just like Amy Carmichael chose to submit to God's will for her life.

One day I will meet Amy Carmichael, but not by going back in time.  Amy now lives in the ultimate realization of her hope - with many others.  Children who were born in India with a dismal future, but were rescued.  Children who were literally enslaved, but later set free for the rest of their lives - and eternity.  All because one woman left her plans behind and followed God's leading.  Even when it wasn't very exciting.  Or thrilling.  Or exotic.

Because she chose to let her days be filled with cleaning and cooking and the needs of hundreds of children, Amy was able to see redemption take place in the lives of children (and adults) around her.  There are so many needs even right here where I live.  There are orphans in my city.  There are widows.  There are lonely, hurting, desperate people everywhere.  In our neighborhoods, churches, homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers - everywhere we go - we can see redemption in the lives around us.  What a thrilling life!

Image credit: Christianity Today

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