Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Edges of His Ways

I recently bought a devotional book full of writings from Amy Carmichael. There are quotes from some of her books, but most are things she wrote as words of encouragement to her family at Dohnavur…things the Lord laid on her heart as she prayed for them or during her personal time with the Lord that she felt led to share.

The book is called “Edges of His Ways.”

That title really struck a chord with me, because I feel very much as if I am living on the edges of His ways…very much as if I am just on the outskirts, barely keeping pace with or walking in step with His way, His will…knowing there is so much more to be seen, to be revealed, to do.

I have heard Him say “this is the way…now walk in it” yet, I can not see the next step and so I stay on the edges, trodding in the familiar, too timid to venture forth. Also, I feel too choked with cares to expend the energy required to walk as I know I should.

By walking as I should, I mean spending the time in the Lord I need to, extending my hands to do His service, having the proper perspective and joy in said service, endeavoring to reflect Him as much as possible, to decrease that He might increase. Sadly, these have not been the driving force of my daily life…things have been more about going and doing and just getting through what it is that has been laid before me. That is not to say that there have not been blessings and moments of joy in any of it…there have been…but I guess the simplest way to put it is I feel that my thoughts have been too much about me, what I want, how I think things should work out, what I do not want to lose or give up.

Even in caring for and praying for my family. I often find myself having to say “forgive me, Lord for wanting my way”…and then painfully having to surrender to the thought that things might not go as I’d like. There may be hurts and (gulp) loss.

Reading in “Edges of His Ways” over the past several days has been like reading from my own personal journal. Each day there has been something that is like the cry of my heart.

When there were no words I could form to pray, I read…What are words when “all my desire is before thee…" Psalm 38:9. And I was reminded that words or no words, the Lord is both aware of my desire and very near…

"It is not far to go, for Thou art near;
It is not far to go, for Thou art here;
And not by traveling, Lord, men come to Thee,
But by the way of love; and we love Thee. "

As my thoughts continued to be many and scattered and unintelligible, I read:
"Gather my thoughts, good Lord, they fitful roam
Like a child bent on foolish wandering"

All the while, I’d been experiencing extreme and much needed quiet in my heart … so quiet that it made prayer difficult (why is it easier to pray when I am distressed?). Then the quiet began to subside…fears began to creep up again…and I read:

“I have been noticing in the Psalms every experience of distress turns to a straight look-up, and praise…Surely this emphasis on praise in the Psalms is because to turn from discouraging things and look up with a song in one's heart is the only sure way of continuance…to quickly look up, and turn our back on the discouraging [and] set our faces again toward sun rising.”

And in Daily Light, I was encouraged to “taste and see that the Lord is good…blessed is the [wo]man who takes refuge in Him.”

And then…
"Lord, give to me a quiet heart
That does not ask to understand
But confident steps forward in
The darkness guided by thy hand"
--Elisabeth Elliot, from Keep a Quiet Heart

The truth is, I do not need to remain on the Edges of His Ways…I can walk exactly as He has called me to walk. Though there may be darkness…He is there and His hand is guiding me just as effectively as in the light…for in Him there is no darkness at all, or shadow of turning.

He is “ the Lord who slept upon the pillow…
the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?
Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, deal Lord art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?”
--Amy Carmichael, from Toward Jerusalem

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