Today's "thought" comes from a book entitled "The One Year Book of Christian History." It contains 365 separate devotionals or what the authors E. Michael Rusten and Sharon Rusten call "daily glimpse's into God's powerful work."
As one who loves history, I have gone through it and returned to it time and again. Each devotion or historical glimpse references something that happened on that particular day in history. Today's thought is from January 18 and references the death of Amy Carmichael, the well known missionary to India who ministered there without ever once returning home to her native Ireland or teenage home, England, from 1895 until the day she died -- Jan. 18, 1951.
If you would like to read more about this amazing woman, Elisabeth Elliot's biography of her life, entitled "A Chance to Die -- The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael," is superb reading. The title of this entry is "You Never Know How God Will Answer (Prayer)." Hopefully it will give you food for thought! Enjoy.
"Amy Carmichael was born in 1867 in Millisle, County Down, Northern Ireland. At the tender age of twelve, she was sent to a Wesleyan Methodist boarding school in Yorkshire, England. There at age fifteen, during a children's service, she heard the song "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." In the quiet moments following the song, Amy realized that in spite of her mother's teaching that Jesus loved her, she had never invited him into her life. 'In His great mercy the Good Shepherd answered the prayers of my mother and my father and many other loving ones, and drew me, even me, into his fold'...
Amy became interested in missions, and in 1893 she sailed for Japan as the first Keswick missionary with the Church Missionary Society. After spending less than two years in Japan and Ceylon, she was forced to return to England because of poor health.
In November 1895 Amy again left England to work with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society in South India. Traveling on evangelistic trips throughout India, she became aware that many young Indian girls were offered by their parents or guardians as temple prostitutes -- a practice later outlawed. Touched by their plight, Amy began rescuing young girls from this fate.
By 1901 she, along with the Indian colleagues and converts from her many trips, settled in Dohnavur. In 1926 she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a home and school for rescued children. Here the Indian children were educated and trained to serve God as Christian nurses, teachers, and evangelists... So committed was Amy Carmichael to India that from the time she arrived in November 1895, she never returned to England.
On October 24, 1931, Amy visited a Dohnavur dispensary and was concerned about the Fellowship's financial support. Seeking guidance* regarding money, she fell silent for a long time and then prayed: 'Do anything, Lord, that will fit me to serve Thee and to help my beloveds.'
Later that same day she was driven to a house she had rented for another dispensary. There in the darkness she fell into a newly dug pit, breaking her leg, dislocating her ankle, and twisting her spine. As a result of her fall, she was bedridden the last twenty years of her life. Yet from her bed she remained in charge of Dohnavur and also wrote prose and poetry through which the work of Dohnavur became known around the world.
In 1938 Carmichael believed God gave her a promise that she would die in her sleep. This she did on January 18, 1951."
The implictions drawn from this story are too stark to overlook: The same day she prayed, she was injured, and the books she now had the time to write helped make the work "known around the world" and brought in the financial support she had gone before God praying for.
Dare we ask, then, the question that can't help but arise: "If the injury led to the answer of her prayer, could it be that her fall was the way God answered?" Do you think Mr. Rusten is right when he implies in the title of this entry that it was God's answer? ("You Never Know How God Will Answer.")
Your own answers will likely vary from God's sovereignty, to fate, to chance, to coincidence. Some might throw in bad luck. What about you? What do you say? The answer you choose will likely depend on your view of God, how he works in providence, his love and wisdom, and your understanding of biblical truth in general. Yet it is worth contemplating. Are things random, or is there a sovereign God who oversees them? And if he does oversee them, then to what extent does he do so, and in what ways?
* One last insight to be gained from Amy Carmichael is her well known steps for discerning God's will or guidance in her life. They are as follows:
1.) The Word of the Lord in the Bible.
2.) The Word of the Spirit in our heart.
3.) The circumsatnces of our lives, which have been arranged by God.
All three must point one way. It is never enough for any two of them to agree, in order for it to be taken as showing God's will. If the voice is God's, all three will agree."