Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Not far from us, those stars

A voice and a song from long ago, from our dear Amy Carmichael.
Gold by Moonlight, 112-113, 156

But continually we look at things about us without seeing more than a very little of what is there.
We look up into the sky at noon and know that familiar constellations are passing over us, but we do not see them. Empty blue, or grey, or masses of cloud—that is all we see.

We look at a pool or any little runlet of softly flowing water; we are looking into fairyland; but we do not catch even a flutter of a fairy scarf. Water and the reflections and colours on its surface—that is all we see.

We know that we see in part where the material world is concerned. Why should we not be comforted where the spiritual is in question by remembering that there also we only see in part?

We dwell perpetually in the presence of far more than we can see. Our feelings say, "How can this good thing be?" but if God declares it is, that is enough.

Make me Thy labourer,
Let me not dream of ever looking back,
Let not my knees be feeble, hands be slack.
O make me strong to labour, strong to bear,
From the rising of the morning till the stars appear.

Make me Thy warrior,
On whom Thou canst depend to stand the brunt
Of any perilous charge on any front.
Give me skill to handle sword and spear,
From the rising of the morning till the stars appear.

Not far from us, those stars—
Unseen as angels and yet looking through
The quiet air, the days' transparent blue.
What shall we know, and feel, and see, and hear
When the sunset colours kindle and the stars appear?

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), a sketch in her journal


Love, traveling in the greatness of His strength,
Found me alone,
Footsore and tired by the journey's length,
Though I had known
All the long way many a kindly air,
And flowers had blossomed for me everywhere.

And yet Love found me needing Him. He stayed;
Love stayed by me.
"Let not thy heart be troubled or dismayed,
My child," said He.
Slipped from me then, all troubles, all alarms,
For Love had gathered me into His arms.

 Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hold me fast by Thee

Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), a sketch in her journal

Lover of all, I hold me fast by Thee,
Ruler of time, King of eternity.
There is no great with Thee, there is no small,
For Thou art all, and fillest all in all.

The new-born world swings forth at Thy command,
The falling dew-drop falls into Thy hand.
God of the firmament's mysterious powers,
I see Thee thread the minutes of my hours.

I see Thee guide the frail, the fading moon
That walks alone through empty skies at noon.
Was ever wayworn, lonely traveler
But had Thee by him, blessed Comforter?

Out of my vision swims the untracked star,
Thy counsels too are high and very far,
Only I know, God of the nebulae,
It is enough to hold me fast by Thee.

 Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Make me thy fuel, flame of God

Hear us, Father, we are weary.
Help us, Spirit, with our tasks unfinished.
Feed us, Yeshua, with yourself — bread and water, living and broken.

Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), an unfinished sketch in her journal

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified,)
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

 Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thy love will not let me go

Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), a sketch in her journal

Lord, I thank Thee
that Thy love constraineth me.

I thank Thee
that, in the great labyrinth of life,
Thou waitest not for my consent to lead me.

I thank Thee
that Thou leadest me by a way which I know not,
by a way which is above the level of my poor understanding.

I thank Thee
that Thou art not repelled by my bitterness,
that Thou art not turned aside by the heat of my spirit.
There is no force in this universe
so glorious as the force of Thy love;
it compels me to come in.

O divine servitude,
O slavery that makes me free,
O love that imprisons me only to set my feet in a larger room,
enclose me more and more within Thy folds.

Protect me from the impetuous desires of my nature
—desires as short-lived as they are impetuous.

Ask me not where I would like to go;
tell me where to go;
lead me in Thine own way;
hold me in Thine own light—Amen.

George Matheson (1842-1906)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Love knocked on my door

Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), a sketch in her journal

Love knocked on my door, yet my soul drew back,
guilty of dust and sin.
"Please," I said, "don't come in."
Love knocked again, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked anything.
"I am unkind, ungrateful," I answered,
"Please don't look on me. I cannot look on thee."
"Who made the eyes but I?"
"Truth, Lord, but I have marred them;
leave me in my darkness and shame."
"And know you not," said Love,
"who bore the blame?"
"My Lord," I opened the door,
"then I will serve."
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
"You must sit down, and taste my meat."
So, I did sit and eat.

Adapted from George Herbert (1593-1633), Love (III).

Friday, May 6, 2016

She waited

My mother went out to sow. And as she sowed, some seeds fell along the path. The birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground. They sprang up but the sun scorched them and they withered away. Other seeds fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.

But she kept sowing.

My mother is the sower and we are her field, her four daughters. I am rocky and thorny and generally unhelpful with the birds.

She sowed in stories and songs, good food and clean laundry and kisses. She pulled weeds. She chased the birds away. She sowed in laughter; she sowed in tears. She sowed in prayers through the years. Every hour we were together, with every touch, she sowed lifelifelifelife.

A few seeds fell on good soil. The black dirt swallowed her seeds, and her words were buried in the ground. There, in the dark, they stayed hidden for a long, long time.

She waited. Until one day

Lilias Trotter, 9 July 1907.

Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children. 
Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril,
From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand sand pluck them. 
From the worlding’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Holy Father, save our children. 
Through life’s troubled waters steer them,
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them,
Father, Father, be Thou near them. 
Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children 
And wherever they may bide,
Lead them Home at eventide.

Amy Carmichael, Toward Jerusalem (1936).