A Chance to Die

I recently finished reading A Chance to Die, the biography of Amy Carmichael. Born in Ireland in 1867, Amy dedicated her life to serving the Lord as a missionary. At a young age she knew that, although she seemingly had opportunities to marry, she was called by God to serve Him as a single woman in the mission field. This dedication took her to Japan, China, Ceylon, and eventually to India, where she spent the bulk of her life building and leading the Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for orphans and children in danger.

As I read her biography, I found myself often amazed at the determination of this woman to follow God no matter what. Her unhesitating willingness to give up her desire for His, and her joy in suffering for the sake of Christ, are truly inspiring. I have to admit, I am not so sure that I would have the same steely determination that she had. And yet the God who enabled her to give up everything for Him is the same God who rules my life. His desire to work in my life is no less than His desire to work in Amy’s.

The book includes many of Amy’s poems and prayers. One that particularly struck me was written not long after she had lost several important people in her life, people whom she leaned on for spiritual and emotional strength.

“If the life of a man or woman on earth is to bear the fragrance of heaven the winds of God must blow on that life, winds not always balmy from the south, but fierce winds from the north that chill the very marrow. It seemed a howling gale that had been let loose on Amy that year.

How was she to go on? She was an orphan. Her own parents gone, her spiritual father and mother gone. She had not known life without such support. Nor has the child, when weaning time comes, known life without its unfailing source of nourishment. Like the weaned child, Amy knew that the lesson assigned now was to learn to do without. She wrote another prayer:

And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according to mine?
But no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire–
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging–
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.

And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Well-Beloved’s leisure,
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.”

(pg. 223)

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