Monday, December 12, 2011

Reading Update: The Wild-Bird Child

One of my mom's real-life heroes is Amy Carmichael. Books have been written by and about this great missionary woman, and my mom has collected many of them. Recently she let me borrow a 2003 biography written by a pastor in Amy Carmichael's home county in Ireland and based upon Amy's original letters. It was a fascinating read, one which reflects not only Amy's passion to reach others for Christ but also the courageous lengths to which she would go to defend even "the least of these."

What I knew from missionaries stories I had heard as a girl was that Amy Carmichael prayed for blue eyes, but God gave her brown. This was in order that she might also one day stain her skin with coffee and pass as a native in her mission field of India, where she rescued unwanted babies from death.

What I didn't know from those simplified stories was that in truth Amy was rescuing little girls from a horrific religious custom of the day in which children were "married to gods" and enslaved to a life of prostitution behind temple walls. I didn't know the depth of her courage and willingness to face the fiercest opposition and dangers for the cause of Christ and on behalf of those who were unable to protect themselves. I also didn't know that her service for God began long before her ministry in India when as a young woman in her own country she reached out to the "Shawlies," impoverished women who worked for the huge linen mills of that time and were looked down upon by society.

Amy Carmichael was one woman who touched the lives of hundreds of thousands in both word and deed. She was a gifted and prolific poet and writer. Her heart was for the children God had brought into her care, and for the lost without Christ. She once arranged a meeting with the most famous outlaw in South India in order to share the gospel with him! Some called her a "dictator," yet she was self-effacing and humble, and well loved by those who knew her best.

Amy Carmichael was known for a deep dependence on faith and prayer, and a high standard for godliness. Her life story stirred me to greater conviction and caused me to examine my own walk. The poem below is one which I want to remember and take to heart.
What is Discipline?
by Amy Carmichael

When I refuse the easy thing for love of my dear Lord,
And when I choose the hardest thing for love of my dear Lord,
And do not make a fuss or speak a grumbling word:
That is discipline.

When everything seems going wrong and yet I will not grouse,
When it is hot, and I am tired, and yet I will not grouse,
But sing a song and do my work, and yet I will not grouse,
But sing a song and do my work in school and in the house:
That is discipline.

When Satan whispers 'Scamp your work,' -
To say to him, "I won't."
When Satan whispers 'Slack a bit,' - to say to him, "I won't."
To rule myself and not to wait for others' "Do" and "Don't":
That is discipline.

When I look up and triumph over every selfish thing,
The things that no one knows about - the cowardly, selfish thing;
And when with heart and will I live to please my glorious King:
That is discipline.

To trample on that curious thing inside me that says 'I';
To think of others always - never, never of that 'I';
To learn to live all to my Saviour's word, 'Deny':
That is discipline.
In her final years of life Amy was confined to bed but still ministered through the written word. During this time she wrote books and in addition she kept a box, to be opened after her death, in which were hundreds of letters written to individuals in her life. She took the time to encourage each person in the Lord and share what they meant to her. Hers is truly a testimony of faithfulness to the end!


Deborah said...

Praise God for such a life! Oh my I keep striving...

sea salt MOSAIC said...

interestingly. . . i have been in "Edges of His Ways" for the past month or so. It's a collection of Amma's letters compiled on her behalf as a sort of daily devotional. she was amazing, but. . . today, WE serve the same living God that she did. He is an unchanging and mighty God. May we sit so humbly at His feet at wield His sword as mightily as she. what a mighty God we serve together.