Monday, September 29, 2008

A word of hope from worm theology


by Amy Carmichael

And He talks with us in many ways, sometimes through the pleasure of rarely quoted lovely old words, like those from Herrick, who, when in 1647 his all was taken from him, wrote:
God, when He takes my goods and chattels hence,
Gives me a portion, giving patience:
What is in God is God; if so it be
He patience gives, He gives himself to me.

But Weigh Me the Fire is what carries me far away from bed and chair today:
Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind;
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mixed in that watery theatre;
And taste thou them as saltless there
As in their channel first they were.
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdom of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshiver’d into seeds of rain;
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes its ears;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence:
This if thou canst, then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.

And yet, in spite of the help that is given, there is a feeling [I can only call it worminess] that can come, especially between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning, when all the fight really seems to be drained out of us. It really is a very horrid feeling, but the word of our God is equal to anything – even to this. At such a time, clear through the fog and stuffiness and the oppression of the enemy, the worminess, came this word from Isaiah: “Fear not, thou worm!”

It was startling; it was so exactly it. There was no smooth saying that things were not as they were. They were wormy. I was wormy. Well then, “Fear not!” He who loves us best knows us best; He meets us just where we are. But He does not leave us there. There is power of the word of the King to effect what it commands. In the Fear not of our God [a word repeated in one form or another from Genesis to Revelation] there is power to endue that which is at the moment most lacking in the one to whom it is spoken – be it courage, or the will to endure, or the will to triumph which easily slips away from us, or the love that we need so much if we are to help others, the love that never fails, or the wisdom which is not in us, and which we must have if we are to make right decisions, or just common hope and patience to carry on in peace and joyfulness of spirit. O Lord, I am nothing before Thee, a worm and no human. Fear not, thou worm.
“Fear not, thou worm Jacob… I will help thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, for I, thy God, am firmly grasping thy right hand – I am saying unto thee, Do not fear; I have become thy helper. Do not fear, thou worm.

Do not fear, but sing, ‘Praise the Lord upon earth, mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, worms.”

These various words helped me exceedingly. And yet I know that they may be dumb to some who turn the pages wearily, their strength spent out in the hot land of pain.

In one of Blackwood’s Tales from the Outposts a man, telling of an arid tract of country in Central Africa, despairs of making one who has not experienced that flaming heat understand anything about it:
But how describe the thirst and heat of torrid lands to those who simply turn the tap near at hand to secure an endless cooling supply? How describe thirst engendered by effort on foot across miles of stark, shadeless forest, heated by a ball of molten fire, to those who live in temperate, well-watered lands of perpetual verdure? The English language, born in a land of cloudy skies, frequent showers, forest shades and evergreen fields, with water on every side, lacks, and must lack, terms for precise description of heat, thirst and drought.

And so it is that this writing lacks the precise touch to describe the devouring flame of anguish that licks up the last drop of the juice of life. I write from a cooler, easier region than that of many a hospital ward and nursing home. Should this writing find its way to one whose heart is in the fiery wasteland – yes, these words will seem lacking, to you.

But there is One who endured the worst extremity of thirst in His own flesh: we can always know that He has been there, and He has not forgotten, nor will He ever forget, what it is like to be there. He was tempted in all points as we are – including vast unrecorded experiences of suffering. Thus He is able to succor all who are tempted – follow that single line of thought, it is like a track across a desert, and soon we come to deep wells of cool water: Whoever drinks of that water will never thirst. They thirsted not when He led them through the deserts.


Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier, 99-102.

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