Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Be more than a mother

My friends have talked about the books of Elisabeth Elliot for years. I do not know why I had not picked one up until now. I chose her biography of Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die. Encountering authors for the first time is much like meeting new friends. In this book, I met not one but two incredible women who were not afraid to die. They embraced their chances to die, to be crucified with Christ, as the door to life.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote in her preface, "We read biographies to get out of ourselves and into another's skin." And getting out of my own skin has proven to be incredibly useful.

During the boys' nap time and between chores, I opened my book and flew to India. There, under some shades in the hot and humid jungle, I sat and watched Amy Carmichael as she taught her dark skinned toddlers to sing. She required even the smallest children to help, "A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a very great thing." As their hands swept the floor of their bungalow, peeled fruits, and husked rice, their lips sang these words,
Jesus, Savior, dost Thou see
When I'm doing work for Thee?
Common thing, not great and grand,
Carrying stones and earth and sand?

I did common work, you know,
Many, many years ago;
And I don't forget. I see
Everything you do for Me.

Motherhood for Amy Carmichael began one morning when Preena ran up to her as she was sipping her chota (early tea). The little girl climbed into her lap and began to chatter away, "My name is Pearl-eyes, and I want to stay here always, I have come to stay."

Preena ran away from a Hindu temple, where her biological mother offered her as a child-slave to the temple guardians. Amy was convinced that an angel helped her escape, because fleeing the temple would be quite an impossible feat. Crowds from the village and the temple women came to Amy's house to reclaim the child, but Preena would not go with them, and Amy would not force her. Amy later learned stories from this child that "darkened the sunlight," and Preena had the scars to prove her words.

More and more children were brought to Amy. Her home would sometimes be filled with thirty or more babies and children. She had rescued and raised hundreds of children into adulthood by the time she died at age eighty-three. Many stayed with her and helped her. Some were rescued from the temple; others were brought to Amy by pastors and Christians who found babies by roadsides. Since the day Preena arrived at her door, Amy gave her heart and her missionary feet to be bound by her beloved children, "for the sake of Him whose feet once were nailed."

Inside the front cover of Amy's Bible were written these words:
These children are dear to Me.
Be a mother to them, and more than a mother.
Watch over them tenderly, be just and kind.
If thy heart is not large enough to embrace them,
I will enlarge it after a pattern of My own.
If these young children are docile and obedient, bless Me for it;
If they are froward, call upon Me for help;
If they weary thee, I will be thy consolation;
If thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy Reward.

I would return from these trips restored, rested. The toys on the floor and dishes in the sink do not seem so daunting. Even though the window announces that it is still winter here in Chicago, my heart is warmed by the heat of the Indian jungle.

*Pictures taken from the website of the Dohnavur Fellowship, home to thousands of children in South India, continuing the work that Amy Carmichael began in 1901.


estherogen said...

Thanks for inviting us out of our skins, writer friend.

Jean Tsen said...

Thank you. Perfect timing. You got me at her last poem, though the whole thing nourished me deeply.

Jean Tsen said...

Amy Carmichael is so acquainted with the beauty of Christ. ;)

Stephanie said...

I haven't read this book in many years, but now I have to read it again! What a beautiful example Amy is of humility and service to Christ...I think I would read the book differently as a mother now.

Thomas.Laura Tsen said...

Thanks, Ling. This is really enlightening. What a loving testimony! As the Bible says, "We love because Christ first love us!"

Irene Sun said...

Esther -- Thank you for traveling with me. =) You would be a lovely companion for a non-virtual, more than spiritual, trip as well.

Xin - She is very acquainted with Christ. I thought about you various times during my reading of her biography. I wish I could unleashed all that I am learning on your some time. HAHA!

Stephanie - Yes! Read it again! She is full of wisdom when it comes to raising little ones. I did not agree with all of her methods, but I did learned from all of her principles. She was such a deliberate person (and mother), and Elisabeth Elliot captured this so well. =)

PaMa - Khesed is pointing at the screen shouting Agong! Amah! =) Thank you for loving me. I am strengthened to love my children because your first loved me. We miss you!!!

Julie said...

It's neat to see how Amy's story blessed you as a mom, as I know it blessed me so much as a single woman (when I read it). I really should read it again. I'm trying to learn that it's better to read a few quality books than many trendy but fluffy books! Elliot is always quality. I have also read her "Passion and Purity" (a huge guide for me in my single years, too) and "Let me be a Woman", but I should read some more, she was so prolific!

Mrs. Pedersen said...

I remember reading her biography many years ago. I love that poem!

Krista Jean said...

I was looking up Amy's song about children helping to clean up and came to your blog. This is great! I was wondering if I could find a tune so I could teach it to my grandchildren. Do you know of a tune?