I am no missionary. At least not in the sense Amy Carmichael was. But I have been thinking about her a great deal lately as I stand on the brim of many unknowns. I think about her joys and the risks she took. Her biography by Elisabeth Eliot, A Chance to Die, echoes in my thoughts all the time.
One of the trajectories of thought is how absolutely awesome her story of sacrifice and faith is. I have no desire to diminish the ordinary lives of faithful men and women but her relentless desire to minister to the least of these at the risk of her own life in the face of many critics is well, worth writing a book about.
No one writes books about those who played it safe. No one writes books about those who did nothing radical for Jesus. No one writes books about those who lived the typical American middle-class lifestyle. No one writes books about plodding down the path of least resistance.
Don’t hear me wrong. I have no real desire to have a book written about me. But I also do not want my life to be on a path of least resistance. If our lives are given for the glory of God, then the path of least resistance is deadly to such a purpose. It is the resistance of all this world values that places us in the position to exhibit the value of God in our lives.
The primrose path affords us little opportunities to lean on God as provider, protector and friend. The need for God is abstract at the most when resistance is slight. But when the path becomes “the valley of the shadow of death” because of the unknown and uncertain, there is a need for the moment-by-moment conscious knowledge of the ever-present God.
This is what I love about Amy Carmichael. There seems to be an almost constant presence of God in her thinking and doing. Why? Because there was so much resistance. People at home resisted her. The clergy resisted her. She got resistance from other missionaries. There was resistance in her own heart. There was resistance from the very people in India she sought to love. And the weather and the land of India both colluded with her physical form to fight against her often. This is why she seemed to have such a notable character. She had to lean on God in ways that are so foreign to us; we are simply amazed when we read about them.
Last, right now I am thinking about my children. Yes, I think about providing for them physically. But I also think about providing for them a life where they have been able to see clearly the provision of God and our desire to glorify him by living as if he is there. If I had read A Chance to Die previous to Emma Caroline being born she just might have been called Amy. It is not enough for her and my sons to know that Jesus saved them from their sins. More important for them is to know he did this primarily for his own glory. And I am not all that sure they will get this as a day-in and day-out present reality if while we live, we live as if God is not there.