The Next Step

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.”

Psalm 119:105

Amy Carmichael gave me a good word to live out today as I head into a new call.

“If the next step is clear, then the one thing to do is to take it.  Don’t pledge your Lord or yourself about the steps beyond.  You don’t see them yet.

Once when I was climbing at night in the forest before there was a made path, I learned 03_02_06-003what the word meant,

Psalm 119:105: ‘Thy word is a lantern to my path’.

I had a lantern and had to hold it very low or I should certainly have slipped on those rough rocks.

We don’t walk spiritually by electric light but by a hand lantern.

And a lantern only shows the next step—not several ahead.” ((Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, CLC Publications, 1981, p. 43))

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it,

for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

Revelation 21:23

Nazarite Vows

Jesus…cried in a loud voice, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!  He who believes in me–who cleaves to and trusts and relies on me–as the Scripture has said, ‘Out from his innermost being springs of living water shall continuously flow.'”   John 7:37-38 Amplified Bible

The real question, however is this: Where are we to find our fresh springs of life? 

Glorious things are said of you, O city of God…All my springs [of joy] are in you!”  (Psalm 87:3, 7)

water_fallb Can you or I say the same thing truthfully?  Or is it not a fact that quite without realizing it, certain forms of “recreation” have taken hold of us and hinder rather than help?

A Nazarite was one who made a special vow—the vow of one who is willing to be separated from worldly pursuits and snares—to separate himself totally so he may be put to service by the Lord.  The special vow meant total abstinence, even from certain things which were not wrong in themselves and which, to other people, might actually be beneficial.

Those of us who are God’s emissaries are to treat the world (not just its corruptions, but its legitimate joys, it privileges and blessings also), as a thing to be touched at a distance.  We must be aware at all times that, if we are caught by its spirit, or fed by its meat, we lose our sensitivity to the very breath of the Highest and will no longer receive the manna that falls from heaven to feed our souls.

Therefore, we may bind ourselves to God with the kind of vow that commits us to this: to look upon the world, in all its delights and attractions, suspecting that traps are set there for us, reserving ourselves for a higher way.

We are called to live daily in a higher Kingdom, where we are touched and our souls drink from the Spirit of God. ((Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary,p. 4-5))

My Father, so often I feel restless.  Unsatisfied.  Wanting something more.  I try to satisfy my inner thirst for life in ways that don’t satisfy–they only leave me thirstier still.

Maybe underneath, I don’t really believe you are what you say you are: Life itself, pure-flowing.

Today, Father, help me to “cleave” to you–to embrace you fully with my trust.  To see the things that draw me for the mirage they are.  And to drink more deeply from your spring of living water. (David Hazard)

Accept with Joy

 Amy

 I find Amy Carmichael’s writing develops the flabby muscle of my faith.  Knowing that this committed missionary to India was confined to her bed for twenty years  and suffered constant pain makes what she wrote so credible and valuable to me. 

 This morning, she had me consider how my heart responds as I wait for prayers to be answered. 

“I once wrote that God always answers us in the deeps, not in the shallows of our prayers.  Hasn’t it been so with you? 

One of the hardest things in our secret prayer life is to accept with joy not with grief the answers to our deepest prayers. At least I have found it so.  It was a long time before I discovered that whatever came was the answer.  I had expected something so different that I did not recognize it when it came.

And He doesn’t explain.  He trusts us not to be offended; that’s all.”

And blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is he who takes no offense at Me and finds no cause for stumbling in or through Me and is not hindered from seeing the Truth. (Matthew 11:6, Amplified)

God of Encouragement

image I have always noticed that when God has purposes of blessing for some soul, the demon of discouragement, who is one of Satan’s most useful servants, is sure to come and whisper all sorts of sorrowful, depressing, miserable thoughts.  He drops these thoughts about, sometimes in one heart and sometimes in another.  If they take root and grow into feelings and words and deeds, he knows that a great deal has been done to hinder what our God intends to do.  Do not forget that discouragement is always from beneath; encouragement is always from above;  God is the God of Encouragement.” ((Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways, August 20th, p. 154))

“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them,

and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”  (Psalm 10:17-18)

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,

so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among

yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 15:4-6)

Candle in the Dark

 Amy Carmichael is for me a hero of the faith.  Elisabeth Amy CarmichaelElliot wrote a wonderful biography of this woman entitled “A Chance to Die”.  She was serving as a missionary in India rescuing young girls from being sold as temple prostitutes when she suffered a terrible fall.   That fall left her confined to her room for the last twenty years of her life.  She was in constant pain and yet her letters and devotional writings composed during that season of pain continue to strengthen believer’s hearts and reveal the riches of a life whose roots are sunk deep in Christ.  I awoke with some melancholy this morning and immediately thought of this friend who sought a candle in the dark.

“All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness.”  Psalm 25:10 RVcandle

All does not mean “all but the paths we are in now” or “nearly all, but perhaps not just this specially difficult painful one”.  All must mean all.

So your path with its unexplained sorrow, and mine with its unexplained sharp flints and briers, and both with their unexplained perplexity of guidance, their sheer mystery, are just lovingkindness, nothing less. 

I am resting my heart on that word.  It bears one up on eagle’s wings; it gives courage and song and sweetness too, that sweetness of spirit which it is death to lose even for one half hour.  God bless you and utterly satisfy your heart with Himself.  I remember in old days almost desperately repeating to myself these lines from Tersteegen; 

 Am I not enough, Mine own?  Enough Mine own for thee?… Am I not enough Mine own?  I forever and alone, I, needing thee?” 

It was a long time before I could say honestly “Yes” to that question.  I remember the turmoil of soul as if it were yesterday, but at last, oh the rest, “for in acceptance lies peace”.  

Amy Carmichael, “A Candle in the Dark“, p. 46