Amy Carmichael has been one of my best friends since I was probably nine or ten years old.
Granted, she lived a whole entire century before I did, and her body has been in the ground for over sixty years…. but her heart lives on. It was through her spirit that God poured into mine a love for Asia, particularly India. And through the high times and low times of my life, Amy Carmichael has always had something encouraging, challenging, or comforting to say to me.
(What I’m about to say is kind of personal but I wanted to share it anyway.) I have a memory of the night my former boyfriend broke up with me. Unfortunately, it’s a vague enough memory that I can’t pull out the exact details. I just remember that the night he stopped by and told me the relationship was over, before he came, I was reading in my book of poems by Ms. Carmichael, Mountain Breezes. There was a page of short poems that I read that talked about how God would be with me even in trial, that He would help me to be strong, that joy would come through trial. As I read, I had a feeling– though I couldn’t have put it in words then– that something was about to happen that would be difficult and life-changing, but that God would be with me.
At that moment, I heard the sound of wheels on the gravel driveway and I hurried downstairs to greet my boyfriend. And sure enough, that night, everything changed.
But even more surely, God kept that promise that He spoke to me through those words penned by Amy Carmichael. He held my hand, He let me cry, He helped me to be strong. Nothing surprised Him; He knew it was coming, and He knew what it would bring me to. He promised that the grief would not last forever, and He kept that promise. Even though it was one of the most difficult and “earth-shattering” times I had experienced yet in my life, my wound eventually would heal, and I have come out at a much better place, and I feel like God has secured my feet on the path that He wants for me, rather than the detour that I had taken without consulting Him. Looking back, I feel as though God spoke to me through those poems just as my life was about to change, so that I could see most clearly how He would follow through, so that I would know how great is His love and care for me.
I have gone back several times to try and find the words that spoke to me that evening. I am not 100% sure which ones they were. But last night I was scouring Mountain Breezes and I think I may have found the page, as the words there are the words that stuck in my heart. Because they were such an encouragement to me at that time, and even so continue to be, I wanted to share them with you.
(The first one is my favorite, because it says that nothing surprises God, that He cares about my well-being even more than I do, and that “fair are the lilies that weather the storm”. What unexpected difficulties God brings into our lives can be a chance to become strong and beautiful through Him.)
Sandhof Farm, Maltahohe District, Namibia (Hougaard Malan Landscape Photography)
Leave it to Me
Leave it to Me, child; leave it to Me.
Dearer thy garden to Me than to thee.
Lift up thy heart, child; lift up thine eyes;
Nought can defeat Me, nought can surprise.
Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me;
Trust in the wall of Fire. Look up and see
Stars in their courses shine through the night;
Both are alike to Me– darkness and light.
Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me.
Let slip the burden too heavy for thee;
That which I will, My Hand shall perform–
Fair are the lilies that weather the storm.
Art thou disappointed? Come to Me;
I will never be a grief to thee.
Hurt by hand thou trusted? Come to Me;
Leaves of healing I will lay on thee.
Art thou broken? Come, My child, to Me;
I, thy Comforter, will comfort thee.
Even friends can sometimes changeful be;
I will always be the same to thee.
Joy Comes, Singing
Lord, I would take Thy comfortings
With both hands gratefully,
And grief’s dark overshadowings,
As lightly as may be–
For they belong to evenings;
Joy comes with day to me,
Comes running with the day to me.
Although my wayside inn at night
May harbor grief as a guest,
With dawn he swiftly takes his flight–
And like a bird to nest,
Dear joy comes singing with delight,
As she comes home to rest;
Dear joy comes singing home to rest.
I Promise Thee
I promise thee
That I, to whom the pillars of the earth belong,
Will bear thee up and keep thy spirit strong.
I promise thee
That none shall add a furlong to the mile
That thou must walk through this long, little while.
I promise thee:
Thy private shadow shall not shadow ever
The path of thy beloved fellow lover.
I promise thee
That though it tarry, yet the day will come
When I shall call thee Home.
Carmichael, Amy. Mountain Breezes (1999): CLC Publications: Fort Washington, PA. Pages 334-337.