O little bird that sings
by Amy Carmichael
O little bird that sings
Long before the glad day springs,
What radiant victory
You show to me.
You sing of conquering faith,
And of life subduing death,
And of joy before the light
Has vanquished night.
God of the sweet bird-song,
Let us all be borne along
By this triumphant mirth
That is not of earth.
Foreseeing dawn, would we
Now exult melodiously,
And sing before the light
Has vanquished night.
I will renew thee in My love
by Amy Carmichael
But there are times when we feel too tired even to desire; nothing is left in us to be refreshed – virtue has gone out of us. Will it ever come back? Can fatigue annihilate that which used to be, that resilience that so often has saved us from collapse? To be wakened by pain long before we should awaken, in spite of all that has been done to give us sleep… that is to know the feeling of being too tired to be refreshed, too tired even to desire.
And yet, when wakening, there comes a song of a bird – a magpie robin, a happy little bird in tidy black and white that sings before the dawn, sometimes as early as three o’clock. A long sustained sweetness suddenly breaks through the darkness, and drops of silver song are scattered everywhere. You lie listening gratefully, and your “Oh, how tired I am!” gradually becomes, “O little bird that sings” – which is at least happier than the other.
But not even the memory of that silvery sweetness can carry us through the day. Nothing but the very word of God made vital to the heart can do that. I wonder if this will do for another what it has done for me? The Septuagint reading of Zephaniah 3:17, “He will rest in His love,” is, “He will renew thee in His love.” There is enchantment in that word. There is life. There is strength.
O God, renew us in Thy love today’
For our tomorrow we have not a care;
Who blessed our yesterday
Will meet us there.
But our today is all athirst for Thee;
Come in the stillness, O Thou heavenly Dew;
Come Thou to us – to me –
September, on the southeastern coast of India, is a burnt-up month. Round about Dohnaver the earth is terra-cotta colored, and asks for the relief of low-growing green things; it can glare hotly when all that grows low is brown. The henna, within view of my window [henna is the camphire of the Song of Songs, “My beloved is to me like a cluster of henna”], is then bare, brown twig – the creamy, scented clusters are a mere memory; the little butterfly, caesalpinia, is a flicker of gold on unhappy stalks; frangipani, the temple flower, breaks out in strong blossom from a naked, fat finger-stem, and the flame of the forest is all flame and no forest green.
But this year is different, and this morning my chair was turned so that I could see into the enclosure upon which my room opens, and till the sun rose and made it too bright I feasted my eyes on the greenness. Never before have these eyes seen a green September. This year, the first time within living memory, not only are the greater trees, and of course all the palms, green [that is their happy custom], but the little henna is green, the gaiety of the caesalpinia set in green, the temple-tree flowers are like pale stars in a green night, the gorgeous crimson of the forest flame glows bright from among its own gracious foliage. Rioting over a tangle of low bushes near my window the delicate large bells of the blue convolvulvus call to the little sunbirds, and those lovely things, iridescent jewels in feathers, peck through the tube from the outside, poised in the air on tiny, fluttering wings. Beside me is a fern, lately achieved after many a vain assay; the mass of fragile lace is full of the whispers of woods and water. The unwonted beauty is because this year we have had rain during the hot weather: the sap is racing up every growing thing as though the thermometer did not register between 90 and 100 degrees in the shade.
And all this sweet greenness and the dewy freshness of flowers is like a picture in color, set to familiar words. Leaves and flowers, down to the last leaf bud and flower bud, are nourished in sap. They do not cause the sap to rise or regulate its flow. They do not understand its mysterious power. But as it flows through them it revives them, renews them. We who are ill [and tested and dry] know that we could never do much to bring the sap of life to bear upon our own souls. We may have helps [I have, and they are countless], or we may have none [some have very few]; but whether we are set in families or as lonely as a sparrow on a housetop – that friendliest of little birds that does not like to be alone anywhere – we know that we depend on something that is not of ourselves to keep us fresh and green. And we know that we are sometimes too spent even to pray for it.
And here is grace: we need not pray. There are times when all that is asked of us is just what is asked of the leaves and flowers and the fronds of the fern. They continue in the plant, the sap flows up to them.
Continue you in My love, says our Lord. And even the most tired of us can continue, stay there, be there – no words can be too simple to say what He means. Do not go away, He says. Why should we? How could we? Do we want to speak to Him? “He then, lying on Jesus’ breast, saith unto Him…” Are we too tired to speak at all? Be silent then, in love. “Surely towards God silence becometh my soul; from Him is my expectation,” is Rotherham’s rendering of Psalm 62:1, 5. And as we are silent, letting our hearts rest in quietness in Him from who is our expectation, He will cause sap to rise. He will renew us in His love.
And so, however weary the clogging flesh my be, we shall win through and we shall know,
Patience of comfort, peace and fortitude,
Drink where fresh waters flow,
Taste angels’ food.
For loving, Thou dost love until the end;
O great and dear Redeemer, we have proved
What Love Divine can spend
On its beloved.
The things we would least choose to have are round about us. But “In these things be not thrown down, nor in despair; but stand evenly at the will of God, and suffer all things that come to thee, to the praising of our Lord Jesus Christ; for after winter cometh summer, and after night cometh day, and after tempest cometh clearness.”
Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier, 60-65.