Monday, June 24, 2013

Selfishness and Thoughts from "If" by Amy Carmichael

Oh so long ago when I got married my mom gave me a gift.  It is a little book that I have valued and treasured called IF by Amy Carmichael.  It is a short look at some thoughts that came to Ms. Carmichael as she contemplated her Savior and His love and her own sometimes lack of love.  My husband Steve often says that the opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness.  My mom knew that marriage would require me to love my husband more and myself less and even to think about myself less.  She has always been such an example of putting others before herself.  I have learned much from her.  And I have been reading this book for twenty three years and counting... Thanks Mom!

IF I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

IF I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve around myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have "a heart at leisure from itself," then I know nothing of Calvary love.

IF at the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and in the power of Him who works in us to will and to do, keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Now, Ms. Carmichael, and my mom even, were not saying that they know nothing of Calvary love.  But Calvary love refers to our beloved Jesus Christ, who loved us so perfectly, so unselfishly that He chose to become our Substitute (2Cor. 5:21).  He chose, although He lived a perfect life and did not deserve punishment, to take the penalty of my sin - to die in my place and win for me undeserved acceptance and love by God.  Wow - this is Calvary love and I fall so short of it.  But by the grace and mercy of God He is working in me!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The River

Today we travelled to Alton, IL to check out the flooded Mississipi River.  There is something so fascinating about a river overflowing her banks.  Jayber Crow says it like this:  "I was sitting not six inches above the surface of the water, and you can't be that close to a flood and not feel the size and power of it and also, a kind of fascination.  If you let yourself, you could sit for hours and watch it, just to see the next thing that would float by..." (Page 88, Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry)

I love the river.  I have always loved rivers.  Growing up in Kentucky we were close to the great Ohio River.  On weekends you could find me driving through the corn fields to get to a favorite spot overlooking the swift moving water.  Sitting and watching the drift wood float along.  So peaceful and quiet.  It was perfect.  I learned how to drive on those roads next to my river.  When I was little we would sit on the banks and watch my parents ski there.  So many memories... so much water.

Have you ever been to the Confluence where the Missouri River runs into the Mighty Mississippi?   You can't get there right now - there's too much flooding (The flooding of June 2013 is the sixth highest on record!).  But later this summer you should go.  Walk out to the very tip of the land and stick one foot in each river.  Sit on a rock.  Watch the two rivers mingle.  You can see it happen!   Sit on a rock and just watch.  Better yet, throw a big stick into the Missouri and see how far out into the Mississippi it goes before making a quick right turn and heading down to St. Louis.  Do it!

Speaking of the Ohio River, Jayber Crow goes on to say, "Sometimes, living right beside it, I forget it.  Going about my various tasks, I don't think about it.  And then it seems just to flow back into my mind.  I stop and look at it.  I think of its parallel, never-meeting banks, which yet never part.  I think of it lying there in its long hollow, at the foot of all the landscape, a single opening from its springs in the mountains all the way to its mouth.  It is a beautiful thought, one of the most beautiful of all thoughts.  I think it not in my brain only but in my heart and in all the lengths of my bones."  (Page 310, Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry)