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Calvary love.

I read If by Amy Carmichael many years ago while teaching high school and took it to heart during that time.  This morning, I read it again, because I’ve noticed a growing pattern of impatience and harshness in my tone lately toward Cub, especially when he’s whining or demanding something and I’m distracted or busy.  So unkind and sinful in response to his sins when I ought to know something of Calvary love.

Amy Carmichael never bore biological children, but she was Amma (“mother” in Tamil) to countless rescued temple children, rescued from sexual slavery.  And much of what she wrote in If must have risen from mothering these children and working alongside others who cared for them, too.

The entire poem is long, but I’ve hand-picked some below that caught my heart today (bold emphasis added):

If I have not compassion on my fellow-servant even as my Lord had pity on me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what has thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I find myself half-carelessly taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Saviour than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I deal with wrong for any other reason than that implied in the words, “FROM HIS RIGHT HAND WENT A FIERY LAW FOR THEM. YEA, HE LOVED THE PEOPLE”; if I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot bear to be like the father who did not soften the rigors of the far country; if, in this sense, I refuse to allow the law of God (the way of transgressors is hard) to take effect, because of the distress it causes me to see that law in operation, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am perturbed by the reproach and misunderstanding that may follow action taken for the good of souls for whom I must give account; if I cannot commit the matter and go on in peace and in silence, remembering Gethsemane and the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot catch “the sound of noise of rain”* long before the rain falls, and, going to some hilltop of the spirit, as near to my God as I can, have not faith to wait there with my face between my knees, though six times or sixty times I am told “there is nothing,” till at last “there arises a little cloud out of the sea,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

*1Kings 18:41

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, “Just what I expected,” if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not look with eyes of hope on all in whom there is even a faint beginning, as our Lord did, when, just after His disciples had wrangled about which of them should be accounted the greatest, He softened His rebuke with those heart-melting words, “YE ARE THEY WHICH HAVE CONTINUED WITH ME IN MY TEMPTATIONS,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I have not the patience of my Saviour with souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot keep silence over a disappointing soul (unless for the sake of that soul’s good or for the good of others it be necessary to speak), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can hurt another by speaking faithfully without much preparation of spirit, and without hurting myself far more than I hurt that other, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice; if I give any room to my private likes and dislikes, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love.*

*For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.

If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not spiritual work” I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others, or their feelings, or even of their little weaknesses; if I am careless about their little hurts and miss opportunities to smooth their way; if I make the sweet running of household wheels more difficult to accomplish, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If there be any reserve in my giving to Him who so loved that He gave His Dearest for me; if there be a secret “but” in my prayer, “anything but that, Lord,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I refuse to be a corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies (“is separated from all in which it lived before”), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

THAT WHICH I KNOW NOT, TEACH THOU ME, O LORD, MY GOD.

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