"As you give all, you find all." Amy Carmichael

Inspiration from the Servant Life of Amy Carmichael

One morning, three-year-old Amy eagerly pushed her chair close to a mirror and climbed up. The night before, she had prayed for her brown eyes to be changed to a beautiful blue, and because her mother had assured her that Jesus always answers prayer, she was certain that she would be gazing into beautiful blue eyes come daylight. When Amy’s brown eyes probed for an explanation, her mother’s response was simple and wise, “Isn’t no an answer?”

Pioneer missionary and author Amy Carmichael’s remarkable servant life was shaped from the very beginning by the awareness that God is free to work his will in this world, even when it diverted from her own chosen path. From this partnership with the living and untamed God flowed thirty-five books that continue to inspire readers today and a ministry among trafficked temple children in the land of India–a ministry that would have been impossible if God had granted Amy’s childhood request for blue eyes.

That Way and No Other: Following God through Storm and Drought shares Amy’s inspiring story in two biographical essays followed by a rich sampling of excerpts lifted from Amy’s own writing, offering her soulful and no-nonsense observations gleaned from a faithful following life.

The Sacredness of the Commonplace

God’s assignment to become “Amma” (“mother”) to a houseful of sons and daughters arrived as both a surprise and a struggle to a woman who had envisioned herself in an itinerant speaking ministry. Throughout her life, she quoted the Tamil proverb, “Children tie the mother’s feet,” but added, “We let our feet be tied for love of Him whose feet were pierced.” (116) In her submission to the commonplace duties of loving and caring for the children she rescued, she elevates the calling of motherhood and the role of the servant in the kingdom of God where the meek are blessed and the last shall be first.

Darkening her skin with coffee grounds, brown-eyed Amy was able to move unnoticed on city streets, rescuing children from a life of temple prostitution, from “things that darkened the sunlight,” and from which Amy, with her Victorian era sensibilities would have longed to “turn away with burning eyes, and only for the children’s sake could we ever look again…” (400)

Well aware that Jesus had come under the burden with her, Amy ministered faithfully in the orphanage she established, and she remained in India for the rest of her life. Perhaps it was her awareness of the impossible nature of her calling and the unspeakable evil she was confronting that account for the staying power of her words. She was ahead of her time in resisting imperialism and the white savior complex that plagued missions in her day:

The thing we fight is not India or Indian, in essence or development. It is something alien to the old life of the people… We think of the real India as we see it in the… seeker after the unknown God, with his wistful eyes… The true India is sensitive and very gentle. There is a wisdom in its ways, none the less wise because it is not the wisdom of the West.”

That Way and No Other, 413

With lyrical prose and with poetry that shimmers with glimpses of God-light, Amy’s words live on, and if Amy is one of those classic writers you’ve “always meant to dig into, but haven’t yet,” That Way and No Other (with introductory biographical material from Carolyn Kurtz and Katelyn Beaty) is an excellent beginning point.

To encourage your discovery process, I’ll be sharing a series of images in the coming days pairing excerpts from Amy Carmichael’s wisdom with peaceful summer scenes from here on my country hill. Join me over on Facebook or Instagram and be inspired and encouraged by words like these on prayer:

There are two prayers, one of which we are constantly praying, sometimes in words, sometimes in thoughts, always in actions. One is, ‘Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth thee.’ (Psalm 143:10) and the other is, ‘Lord, let me do the thing that pleaseth me.”

May we find grace to pray and courage to follow as he leads,

Many thanks to Plough Publishing House and Net Galley for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase That Way and No Other: Following God through Storm and Droughtsimply click on the title, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

41 thoughts on “Inspiration from the Servant Life of Amy Carmichael”

  1. Amy is one of my favorite people. I’ve read Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton a number of times, and Elisabeth Elliot’s A Chance to Die about Amy once (that’s one I want to read again some time). I’m glad new books are coming out to bring people’s attention to her ministry and writing.

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  2. We need to remember the challenges and difficulties of those before us so we gain encouragement to stay the course.

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    1. Yes, Amy definitely persevered through some incredible challenges, always staying faithful. Missions was so different in those days. When she went to India, she never saw her home in the UK again!

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  3. I’ve known of Amy Carmichael for some time, but not the details. You’ve piqued my interest, Michele; I need to know more! I’m putting That Way and No Other on m purchase list. Thank you for the intriguing recommendation!

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  4. I have loved Amy Carmichael’s writings for years. But I didn’t know how deeply her poetry would affect me later in life. It’s amazing to me how God revives and restores words that He plants in our hearts, knowing how much we will need them at just the right time! I’m looking forward to more of your images and words that you will share!

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    1. So many of Amy’s poems that I heard first in my 20’s have become so relevant to me as well in recent years. God brings things into our lives almost like a deposit for later withdrawal!

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  5. Michele, hi … and thank you for this little refresher course on the life and passionate ministry of Amy Carmichael. Her sacrificial life inspires me this morning.

    I hope you are having a lovely weekend, friend.

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    1. Thank you, Elena.
      I just discovered a series of talks by Elisabeth Elliot on YouTube on the topic of suffering in which she quotes some of Amy’s poetry and I came to the same conclusion you did–I need to re-read more of her poems!

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    1. Imagine the joy it gives to God’s heart when we say to him, “I want what you want to give me.” Even when his will cancels out my own, I want to receive it, because he is wise–and I am not!!

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  6. Oh, yes, Michele … I’d say Amy is spot on with those two prayers we pray. I’ve been mulling something similar as it relates to God’s will vs. mine … takes focus and energy to move from the second to the first on a regular basis! I’ve not read any of Amy’s books; thanks for this introduction.

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  7. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
    ********************************************************

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  8. No is often a good answer, just because we ask for something it doesn’t mean we have a right to have it. We have what we are born with for a reason and we need to grow to love ourselves just as we are.
    Thanks for joining in with #pocolo

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