Tuesday, October 14, 2014

One day at a time...

When I started the title for this I mis-spelled  "day" and instead wrote "dy ---"

And it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes.  When speaking of the difficult things in life, Amy Carmichael wrote, " See in it a chance to die".   As in dying to self.

For those of you who don't know, Amy Carmichael was a Brit, a missionary to India for over 50 years.  Her work focused on rescuing little girls, and later, little boys also, from being sexual slaves in the Hindu temples, where their bodies were used in the "worship" demanded by their gods.  Little girls were worth less than nothing, except as temple prostitutes or, as they were known, priestesses, from the youngest age they could be acquired, to their death.

Parents of these "worthless girls" nonetheless found places to sell them, as a "priestess" in a temple or a personal sexual slave, in which they were married at the age of 3 or even younger, it didn't matter. In the temples, the girls were given the best of everything - gold nose rings, necklaces and bracelets, silken clothing, softly pillowed "beds", exotic spices, candies and pastries etc etc. Miss Carmichael was horrified when she learned of their captivities, and began to find ways to retrieve/rescue them, soon necessitating the building of an orphanage.  Since nothing was known of their origins or birthdays, they had, instead of a birthday, a "coming day" - the day they arrived at the shelter - to celebrate, and many chose to remain when grown to help with the increasing amount of children arriving. To all, Amy was known as "Amma" the word for "mother" in the native language.

Miss Carmichael wrote some of the best poetry I've ever read.  She was totally sold out to Jesus.

And she was no stranger to suffering.

When she had been in India for 30 years they had acquired a new property.  She hastened to inspect it and traveled with 2 of the children-grown-serving women and arrived at dusk.  Approaching the front door, no one noticed in the half light that a pit had been built by the front door and covered, as the foundation needed strengthening.  As the light faded, Amma approached the front door and fell into the deep pit, injuring her back and legs in a way that could not be remedied, and spent the rest of her life mostly bed bound.  On occasion she could sit up in a pillowed chair, but not often.  A sheer netting hung over her windows and door to the outside patio.  Each morning she wrote a small note to the children - turning their thoughts to joy, or obedience, or steadfastness in the all-important relationship with Jesus.

Sometimes the pain would get beyond her capabilities to endure, and the Word would be her refuge, from which would come the daily lessons or a poem, collected into small books by the women workers at the home, named Dohnavur.  Many are available now as devotionals - Rose From Briars, The Edges of His Ways, A Candle in the Darkness among others.  Elisabeth Elliot wrote a book about her after traveling to Dohnavur. Amma delighted so in the little ones and rejoiced to see them grow in Jesus.  I highly recommend her books and the biography - and there is also a collection of her poetry.

I mention all this because "See in it a chance to die" has become so important in my own life.  Her poetry and devotionals have been life-savers for me at times.  And they have definitely guided my steps and helped turn me in the right direction in difficult times. I believe Amazon has a collection of her books for Kindle that are free downloads.

These last few weeks have been difficult ones for me.  The smallest things have become difficult to impossible to accomplish.  The amount of energy I awaken with has taken a huge downturn, and the headaches have increased both in frequency and strength.  I barely manage my daily read in the Word - and that is the most important part of my day. My nephew is living with us right now, and my sister in law will soon be leaving for Israel for a month of service. Please pray for me that I will have the strength for cooking and chores while she is away - not to arrive home until thanksgiving day.

I praise God for the dishwasher! 

In the mist of all this, there is plentiful room for pondering "See in it a way to die", which is centrally placed in a Scripture quilt of my favorite verses. It comes, of course, from the example of Jesus, Who died not only for us, but to Himself - any desires or dreams had to be placed aside for the Father's will, as well.  His sacrifice was not only physical. Day by day, He died to Self, that never-satisfied voracious appetite we have to live an easy life, happy and pain free, and, of course, utterly selfish.

Each day presents us with multiple options to temptation - put off some duty required of you,  something as simple as taking the largest cookie, or as intricate as stretching the budget at someone else's expense, for something that is totally unnecessary but lusted after.

Right now I am simply trying to keep my groans to myself, which I have discovered are full of self pity and self aggrandizing. It is an astonishingly easy pit to fall into! And I am surrounded by people that deeply care about me, quick to react with sympathy - a deadly situation for someone on the verge of self-pity, which is at the center of all such impulses.

Now, I am not saying that we should live hermit-like lives, never speaking, bravely soldiering on alone, separating oneself from those around us. When someone asks how I am who truly wants an honest answer, I give them one.  Most people want an answer of "fine" - and if so, I give it to them. But I avail myself of those I know will intercede, and  who understand that this life is God's desire for me.

Recognizing God's hand in suffering is a difficult thing, and offers many chances to die to oneself - which I have a difficult time doing, by the way.  There is something within me that will learn no other way but to be ill- and learning to walk His way is the desire of my heart.  This illness, when I truly look at it, is an exceedingly small price to pay for closeness to the Creator of the Universe, to be infilled by His Spirit, and to be cleansed from sin by His Son. And He not only gave me all that, but when I remember to submit myself whole-heartedly, which I am ashamed to say does not happen daily, when I do give it to Him, He unhesitatingly helps to carry it.

The Awesome God I serve has never failed me.

So, I hope, placed next to "Jesus never fails" , enshrined in my heart are the words, "See in it a chance to die."

One day at a time.

Thank you, Amy.

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