This post is about Jesus, although it will take a moment to get there.
A Chance to Die. The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael. By Elisabeth Elliot. Revell Publishing.
Amy Carmichael was an Irish missionary who served in India for 55 years in the first half of the 20th century. We owe a special thanks to Elisabeth Elliot for the time, research, and effort it took her to write this detailed but very readable biography of her life. Amy never took a furlough (in 55 years!), and was completely devoted to serving her Savior. Everything we do should have the “seed of eternity” in it – an expression used by Amy. Early on in the mission field, Amy took in a little girl, only 5 or 6 years old, who had ran away from the Hindu temple. She was being raised to be a temple prostitute. This began Amy’s life-long ministry of rescuing young girls from temple prostitution. Eventually the ministry expanded to include boys, and had a hospital to treat people in the surrounding areas. A strong family atmosphere was maintained and Amy (called Amma) was dearly loved by “her children.” Just before Amy died temple prostitution was finally made illegal.
Amy was a truly selfless woman, whose ministry was not an easy one. There were countless setbacks, problems, and struggles along the way. She was even criticized by some as having ulterior motives (!) for rescuing these little girls from prostitution. Amy truly took up her cross and followed Jesus with her very life. “A chance to die”… to self and to live for the Savior. This was a challenging, inspiring, and powerful biography. Read it.
Amy published a little book simply called “If.” It is filled with “if” statements, all ending in “then I know nothing of Calvary love.” Ephesians chapter 3 says “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…” Amy commented that these words are too great for us. We see so little. What do we comprehend, what do we know? A love whose symbol is the Cross. What do we know of Calvary love? Here are a few of Amy’s if statements – may they challenge you this day:
If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I do not give a friend the “benefit of the doubt”, but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient…then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I want to be known as the doer of something that has proved the right thing, or as the one who suggested that it should be done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.