This past week I finished Elisabeth Elliot’s book A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael.
It was both stirring and challenging.
Born in Ireland in December 1867, Amy Carmichael loved and followed Christ on His mission. This ultimately led her to India where she began a ministry known as the Dohnavur Fellowship that rescued young children from religious prostitution and mothered them in Christ.
I was struck by these words from her biographer.
“If it were possible to poll all the missionaries who have worked in the all the world in all of Christian history, it would be seen that missionary work, most of the time, offers little that could be called glamour. What it does offer, as Amy wrote to prospective candidates in later years, is a ‘chance to die’—or as Winston Churchill put his challenge during World War II, blood, sweat, and tears. It offers a great deal of plodding and ploughing, with now and then a little planting. It is the promise of rejoicing, given to those who ‘go forth weeping, bearing precious seed’ that gives heart. So it was with Amy” (Elliot, 176).
Truly following Jesus on His mission, whether in India or Indian Meadows subdivision, is rarely comfortable, exciting, or glamorous. It's a lot of plodding and ploughing. Yet, seen from another perspective, it also offers each of us a chance to die.
A chance to die to our cravings and must-haves, our dream job or retirement, our need to have our way, and the constant drive to give our kids and grandchildren every opportunity we assure ourselves they need. A chance to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.
Perhaps, in one sense, there’s something for being a dead church. An assembly of Christians that have died to their flesh, their ambitions, and their world, so that they might truly live for Christ.
I think Amy would urge us to joyfully take the chance.