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Amy Carmichael :: Nor Scrip—9. The Baskets

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One day after an earlier time like that just described, when what was almost anxiety was turned into comfort, I thought of dear younger ones who had been given as fellow-workers, and the fear came, What if suddenly this burden is laid upon them? None of them have had previous experience in this particular way of the Lord, which prepares the soul for its peculiar disciplines. What if quite suddenly they are left to face a situation for which they are not responsible, before they have had time to learn how to walk by faith? If we are fed as it were from meal to meal, and something intercepts the coming of the next meal, and they are alone?

Perhaps it was a faithless thought; but we have a tender Master. He did not rebuke, but took me to the same chapter and the same story which had spoken to my soul when first the work began.

'Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

'…And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes, as much as they would.

'When they were filled, He said to His disciples,

Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

'Therefore they gathered together and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.'

And, as I believed, the promise was given to me then that there should be baskets over and above our daily supplies, and that, just as those men and women and their children were free to use the pieces of the loaves over from that great meal, if they needed them before they reached home, so we should be free to use ours, should need arise before we too reached Home, we and our children.

It reads simply. It felt simple as it was shown to me and, entirely at rest, I left the matter, sure that should my journey Home be shorter than theirs, there would be no embarrassment, even for the little interval which might have to elapse before the disciples scattered all over the earth had time to realize that everything would go on as before, if only they did their loving part and distributed that which was given them for us, even as they had done with such kind hands over and over again.

And here, to make this matter quite plain, I must go back still further. When the work began our needs were very small, £212 cleared the first year. We never had paid workers, each who joined us worked as child with mother, a way that peculiarly appeals to the Indian mind and also, as we afterwards discovered to our thankfulness, effectually excludes all who would offer for any reason other than the constraining love of the Lord. We did most earnestly want only such. Their needs were met from the common fund. If they had anything of this world's goods, without my knowing it they slipped it into the common stock. Thus there were no charges such as easily might have been, and indeed no money could have bought what was offered, and is offered, by this company of Indian women, and the true comrade who is husband of one of them.

It had been taken for granted as something that did not need words to explain it, that we should not ask man for help, but only God. We had found it enough before. When, later on, other ways were pressed upon us by some who in their kindness thought ours too unpractical, we could only feel about them as David felt about the helmet and the coat of mail, 'I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them.' This ground of most simple dependence was the only ground we knew, and we could not have moved off it except at His word.

Then, too, we did not want to touch any money except what He meant us to use. The spending of money is a great responsibility. We did not wish to incur that responsibility unless He so commanded. Only so could we be sure of His guidance, and be fortified against the peril of building up what might show well on earth, but be of no value whatever to the Kingdom of Heaven. Also we did not want to divert anything from others. For this and other reasons we had no supported children as such, we offered no attractions, such as naturally incline the heart of the kindly to give. We did honestly seek not to attract, but only to draw by prayer to God those supplies He saw good to entrust to us.

But even so, year by year there was a little balance, the floating balance which carries across from the old year to the new, and is required of course till the new supplies come in. At the end of the year, if we were able, we put the floating balance of the previous year aside, and thought of it as Baskets, the baskets over and above, as the story of the Great Meal puts it. Between January 1904 and January 1914, the Baskets of fragments thus gathered expressed in rupees were Rs. 11,101.8.8 (£740 2s. 0¾d.).

'Whether is it easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk?' I can still remember the puzzle of this question. It seemed so obvious that it was easier to say, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee,' for no one could immediately see whether they were or not, but the effect of the other word lay open at once. And yet our Lord evidently expected a different reply.

And years after the true answer to the question was understood, the childish thought returned in a new form. Spiritual blessings and 'answers to prayer' may possibly be imagined, at any rate it may be for some time uncertain whether they really are or are only imagined to be. But there is no room for imagination where the figures in an account book are concerned. Nor do bank pass books encourage that faculty. Flowery feelings don't count there. Either the prayed-for money is, or it is not. There is no room for uncertainty.

But how eternally true the truth implicit in our Lord's quiet question. These records touch only the edges of His ways.

Nor Scrip—8. As We Have Heard, So Have We Seen ← Prior Section
Nor Scrip—10. The Twelve Nurseries and the Baskets 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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