Have you ever thought you live such an ordinary life that the possibility of achieving anything of note is even less likely than seeing a man from Publisher’s Clearing House on your porch extending a big, fat check?
Or that the God of the Bible is just that—a hope caught between precious pages?
I think the reason I enjoy reading other people’s stories of faith is because they encourage me on those days when the dog is snoring in the chair, and I’m trying to pull some thought of wisdom out of my head, and nothing’s wrong except an undercurrent of discontent that I am not doing enough for God and I am certainly not being enough for Him. (I know—He’s not about that, but my defective agitation is.)
And then I read about another “ordinary” person whose “ordinary” outlook was changed in an instant by the reality of His presence. And I am reminded He is the same God then and now; for her and for me, with Whom all things are possible.
One of my women of faith heroes is Amy Carmichael, the young Irish woman who ended up in India rescuing children sold into sex slavery for the temples.
In her book, the Gold Cord, Amy said her life changed in an instant on an otherwise uneventful Sunday afternoon when she and her mother and siblings were walking home from church. They came upon a ragged woman carrying a heavy burden. The Carmichaels, who were a respectable Irish Protestant family, but “not at all exalted Christians,” offered to help.
Amy and her siblings were, in fact, mortified to be doing so. She said they plodded along, “the wet wind blowing the rags of that poor woman till she seemed like a bundle of feathers, and we unhappily mixed up with them.”
And then, in the middle of that adolescent embarrassment, on that ordinary Sunday afternoon, as they passed by a fountain, she suddenly saw a phrase emblazoned through the drizzle:
“Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble…if any man’s work abide”
As she turned around, the voice, the flash, the words disappeared, and all she saw was the drizzle, the fountain and the people. But that moment, that outburst of God into her life changed her forever and she knew “nothing could ever matter again but the things that were eternal.”
Although in the fifty years she lived in India, she rescued thousands of children, a feat we would deem mighty, she actually had trouble getting people to help initially because many missionaries wanted to do “God’s work” rather than nursemaid children.
One day while she was working in her room, a toddler picked up a book and grinning, as though he greatly approved, held it straight out. She had to laugh at the humorous truth. The title—Practical Christianity!
We all may not be as Amy Carmichael and get to experience an instantaneous Holy Spirit, life-changing Eureka, and we may not all go to far shores and do great and noble things, but we all can press into Him with our heart, mind, and body and be faithful to what He has given us this moment because we don’t know what the next moment holds. We have no idea what He can do tomorrow with our little faithfulnesses of today, with our seemingly insignificant days of practical Christianity.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Carmichael, Amy. Gold Cord: The story of a fellowship.Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, 1992.