Back in December (and still) I wanted to learn more about Missionaries and missionary work. So I ordered a book authored by the amazing Amy Carmichael. I’m going to be honest and say that I just really wanted to read a book from someone who had my family name. It had to be great. Especially when she was a missionary in India for 55 years without a furlough… She had to be a hardcore Carmichael (like most of us, of course). Plus, my aunt, uncle, and cousin are currently missionaries in India.
This book is titled Things As They Are. She wrote it along with some other women who spent 2 years with her in India on her missionary journey. They all decided after 2 years of sharing the gospel in India that Amy should author a book and write down Things as they are in India as a missionary- because many a time Missionary work is made to be full of romance and wanderlust. She wanted people to see what she sees and people to know what He has put on her heart. With all that said, I cannot read a chapter out of this book without weeping, so I haven’t gotten past chapter 8. This book has made me sleepless. I toss and turn. Her writing echoes through each night and in my heart each day it makes me ask questions. What am I doing? Am I calloused? What has He called me to? I question continuously. Amy’s points so far are all on target. Her writing moves me. Her visions stir my heart. Her heart for others breaks me. Her perseverance when she’s spit on and thrown out of town after town astounds me. Seven chapters in and I come more and more undone.
For this reason, I’m going to just type an excerpt from chapter 6, about a vision Amy describes. I’ve read it close to 4 or 5 times now and it guts me every time. It takes my breath away. Her writing is italicized.
…I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:
That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hallows, and untamable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.
Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was one woman with a baby in her arms and another child holding inter her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step… it rod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!
Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly and fell without a sound.
Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could not call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.
Then I saw that along the edge were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were far too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.
Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their backs turned towards the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them it disturbed them, and they thought it rather a vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! you haven’t finished your daisy chains yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”
There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.
Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back, but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively; and it called- but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.
Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was- the Cry of the Blood….
Why does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it?
God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!