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Amy Carmichael :: Nor Scrip—11. The Letter Written by the Fireside

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In a searching and illuminating note on St. John 15:7-8, Westcott says that the prayer there considered is only some transformed fragment of our Lord's teaching, and he speaks of the coincidence of the will of the one who prays with the will of his Master, and shows how the result of such prayer ('It shall be done,' more literally, 'It shall come to pass for you') is not due to any external or arbitrary power but to the action of a law of life. And upon the word 'Herein' he says, 'The end which God regards in answering prayer is that we may bear much fruit.'

In telling of, prayer and of answer in India, it is more and more borne upon one that this is only half the story. The other part will be told by and by, when the wonderful intertwined 'all things' of our Father's providence are opened to us, and we see, as words could not show, how they worked together for good, the listening ear thousands of miles away and the obedient loving heart responding to indications of that will which it is life to recognize and serve. But sometimes, just as if to give us a foretaste of the happiness awaiting us at the end of the day, little glimpses are given into the working of the law that lies behind answered prayer.

In January 1915 enough came to us to cover all expenses connected with the salvation of children.

In February very little came. We had to draw again from the Baskets. This was never a light thing with us, though, as I have said, we were kept from care about it. The cares of the year were enough for the year. In the early months two of our best workers failed and had to be sent to the sanatorium, where one of them remained for over a year; later a third had to go. These girls had been brought up in unhealthy surroundings and were tubercular. They had been called to us in unusual ways, and were specially precious because of their entire devotion to the work. Costly journeys and various other expenses were now added to the already large amount required to keep all running smoothly. Above all, speaking spiritually, it was our hardest, saddest year. Never, except in 1919 when once more that grief of all griefs, spiritual defeat in the battle for a soul, had to be endured, had such sadness of anxiety been appointed. And the Lord who knows what care about money can be at such times, did not in this first experience of that grief allow it to approach us.

On February 24, He drew near to one who sat by the fire in a little house in England. It was 'well past bed-time, after a long and busy evening' and He caused it (I quote her words) 'suddenly to occur to me' to write. So she wrote:

'We have been doing up our accounts for our publishing business and find a nice profit which we want to give away at once. We are going to send you £150 of this money, possibly you may need it for running expenses since the war will have made a difference to you.' Thus for that month we were happily defended from that last trial, and set free to fight our Lord's battles without distraction, so far as the expenses of the battle were concerned. And where other troubles not so lightened were concerned, these words, written four hundred years ago, came to us as if fresh washed with the tears of yesterday: 'I welcome this furnace, Christ's wisdom made choice of it for me, and it must be best because it was His choice. It is my aim and hearty desire that my furnace which is of the Lord's kindling may sparkle fire upon standers-by to the warming of their hearts of His love. Why should I start at the plough of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know that He is no idle husbandman. He purposeth a crop.'

But this little book is not meant to deal with such experiences, but rather with the single and separate fact of the coming of provision in answer to prayer. That year closed with what looked to us as little short of a miracle, like the multiplying of the loaves again. We were able to return to the Baskets all we had taken out in the previous year, and add Rs. 1,977.12.0 or £131 17s. So that we took out £276 4s. 9¾d. and put back £408 1s. 9¾d.

'He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?

'And this He said to prove him; for He Himself knew what He would do.'

How often during the three years yet to come we recalled those words. He to whom the War was known before ever it began, He who marked the path of the submarine in the great waters, knew what would reach us and what would fail, and when it failed, knew Himself what He would do. The Baskets were never once emptied. As the writer of that fireside letter wrote five years later, when the trial of our faith was much sharper, 'Real faith believes not only that God can, but that He will.' Yes will, if only we are sure that there is coincidence of the will of the one who prays with the blessed will of his Master, and that the only end regarded with us, as with our God, is the bearing of much fruit. But who could write such words without turning them into prayer? 'Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my heart: prove me and examine my thoughts. Look well if there be any way of wickedness in me: and lead me in the way everlasting.'


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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