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Amy Carmichael :: Nor Scrip—4. Rose–Spray and Rain

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From the beginning of my missionary life there had been one at home whose delight it was to supply, so far as in him lay, the munitions of war, as he called them. The first little account book shows the writing, familiar at that time to thousands, and to me now, reminiscent of all that is most loving, most fatherly in love. But, as though to teach one that for this new work, and on to the end, henceforth all one's confidence, all one's hope was to be God and God alone, the last long illness of this dear earthly friend, Robert Wilson of Broughton Grange, Cumberland, had now set in, and soon after the beginning of the Temple children's work his help ceased. This sudden ceasing in the book of gifts is very marked. 'Believe ye that I am able to do this? I alone without another?' They said unto Him, 'Yea, Lord.'

And now began that series of provisions and interpositions to which the wondering soul can never become accustomed, as though it were a light and little thing for the God of all the earth to take thought for us. Never once in fifteen years has a bill been left unpaid. Never once has man or woman been told when we were in need of help; but never once have we lacked any good thing. Once, as if to show what could be done if it were required, £25 came by telegram. Once in an hour of need, of which not one on earth had heard the least whisper, some one emerged from the clamouring crowd at the Tinnevelly Bridge railway station, slipped a gift into my hand as I was about to get into the train, and was lost again in the crowd. And a day or two afterwards a gift came from the one who was then our District Court Judge. So from the first we learned that God's ravens fly in quite unlikely places; telegraph offices, railway stations and district courts are not the places where we should have looked for them.

Dohnavur is very inaccessible. This is good, as it leaves us free for the greater part of the year to work without interruption, and it is much safer for the children. But it means, of course, that not much comes by hand to us, and there has always to be money in the cash box for sudden calls.

Twice during the early months we were left without any. There was some in the bank four hundred miles away; but this could only be obtained by cheque upon the mission office in Palamcottah, a day's journey distant. There had been robberies on the road between, which is in part open plain, and liable to robberies. So the usual messenger had not gone, and no one could be found to go. The Government post however came and went as usual. Into the middle of this hiatus dropped a letter and a telegram. We had to send money by money order to a place eight hundred miles away by return of post, if we wanted to save a child discovered there. To delay meant almost certainly losing the child. The letter telling us so had been followed by the telegram, and both arrived together. The same post brought us exactly the sum required by money order from Canada. We sent if off that same day and it was in time to save the child.

These earlier experiences have been told elsewhere, [Lotus Buds. The Beginning of a Story. Ponnamal.] we only gather them up now because they belong inspirit to this special book, and touching on them lightly we will pass on.

One then, which greatly helped our faith, was the coming of the sum (£20) we needed to meet a rice bill which was larger than we were prepared for. The money came just in time to pay it. The sack of rice was poured out on the ground-I can see it now-and then it came.

Another help, of which I cannot think without seeing a rose-spray beaten in a rainy wind, occurred in the Hills, where a little room, whose window was set in climbing pink geranium and roses, was the place where I learned afresh what wonderful things our God can do. I had asked for the comfort of a certain sum of money to come in the mail. And it had come. [It was £40. Those were early days, and we were learning the truth of St. Augustine's 'Our daily furnace is the tongue of man'-woman, I should have said, that day-I can hear still the airy 'Well, I thought Indian babies could live on rice-water!' and here we were needing £40 for milk foods. But the story is told fully on p. 242 of the big first edition of Lotus Buds (p. 240 in the smaller later editions), so I need not repeat it.] Outside the sky was darkening for rain; I saw a little long light rose-spray with opening buds tossed about and swung up and down, and then bent as it seemed to breaking-point under the first fierce onslaught of the wind. Then the rain fell. Rain in India falls in sheets, or in straightly slanted lines like the strokes of a scourge. Under each smiting the rose-spray bent till it almost touched the ground, but between each it sprang up again with such a living quick rebound that it was as though it were verily alive and exulting. And I watched, fascinated by the power of the life in it, till a sudden burst of sunshine scattered the clouds, ended the rain and set that happy rose-spray all but singing aloud for the joy of its dewy buds and fresh-washed glistening leaves.

A few days later we were down in the Plains, and there was the very fierce beating of a storm of wind and rain, and while this storm was upon us it chanced that we were concerned about a money order for Rs. 150, which had to be sent to Ponnamal who was in charge of the little branch nursery at Neyyoor in South Travancore. She was as careful as it was possible to be, and a very clever manager; but even so, things were costing much more than we had expected. We had yet to learn by blessed practice, though we knew it of course in theory, that expenses whether counted in pence, or shillings, or pounds, or hundreds of pounds, are all one to God. I hope we have never been careless about spending the pence, or their equivalent annas, and we had tried to avoid the little addition of the commission on the money order, but could not. So it went.

One week later a money order reached us for Rs. 151.14.0. So the Neyyoor bill was repaid even to the commission, and there was something over.

There is a verse in the New Testament which no Indian grain merchant or buyer of grain ever requires to be explained to him. Seller sells, and buyer buys, according to this rule, 'good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.' This is the measure expected. If what is called 'flat' measure is wanted, it is so stated, otherwise the running over kind is taken for granted all round.

Our God gives like that, even to the odd minas over. There is no 'flat' measure with Him.

But we had not nearly got to the end of the storm. The nursery work was attacked by a gang of evil men, led by one who was known for miles round as pre-eminent in wickedness. Those who were bringing children to us were tried in various ways and became discouraged. Some who had been keen lost interest; and yet we had to go on, and soon a little new nursery was the need of the day: so we prayed for it.

I was in a bullock-cart travelling back from a distant place and using the uninterrupted leisure to plan the room and to pray for it, when the local postman passing, recognizing the cart and coming behind, thrust aside the sack hanging over its open end and put into my hands a bundle of letters, the mail he had been taking to the bungalow. I opened that bundle with feelings of expectancy those living in this way will understand. In it was a letter with a cheque bearing the name Arrowsmith. This name stirred a memory. For long ago Mr. Edwin Arrowsmith took a children's service in Harrogate, and to that service the children of a certain school went. In the quiet at the end, a sense of the great love of God came to a child kneeling there. It was the single watered moment of an arid three years. The cheque was from a member of that family, and the name unseen, unheard of for so many years, woke thoughts like fountains. Something in the letter now read made it clear that the gift was that for which I had been waiting, the Sign gift for the new room. At once therefore, material up to its measure was ordered. More came as more was needed, and the room was built that nine years later was to be heaven's waiting-room to Ponnamal, the room where she heard her music and through all her long pain was comforted. But long before that, before the room was roofed, the intended device of the evil one failed, and we were delivered from all our fears.

Storm and rain and a rosebud spray. God's rose-sprays are safe in God's rain.

Nor Scrip—3. Simla, and the First Nursery ← Prior Section
Nor Scrip—5. Anathoth Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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