whether ye are in the faith
(2 Cor. 13:5)
How If Came to be Written
About the Author
[_That which I know not, teach me, _
O Lord, my God.]
How If Came to be Written
One evening a fellow worker came to me about a problem with a younger worker who was missing the way of love. This led to a sleepless night, for I always wonder, “Lord, is it I?” Have I failed her anywhere? What do I know of Calvary love? And then sentence-by-sentence the “Ifs” came, almost as if spoken aloud to my inner ear.
The next morning I shared these with another individual, for I had written them down in the night. Then a few others shared. After this, we printed some copies on our little hand press for the fellowship only, and that led to this booklet.
At first when someone requested it, we felt, “No, it is far too private for that.” But we finally decided that if it can help anyone understand what the life of love means and to live that life, then it is not ours to refuse.
Some of the “ifs” appear to be related to pride, selfishness, or cowardice, but after digging deeper, we realized an unsuspected lovelessness is at the root of them all. The pages in Part II are not meant to be read one after the other. Perhaps only one “if” here and there may contain the needed word, and leaving the others, the reader may find something in the last pages.
And in case any true follower is troubled by the “then I know nothing,” I would say the thought came in this form, and I fear to weaken it. But here, as everywhere, the letter kills. The apostle Paul counted the loss of all things as nothing that he might know Him whom he already knew. And the soul, suddenly illuminated by some fresh knowledge of the love of God shown on Calvary, does not stop to measure how much or how little it knew of that love before. Penetrated, melted, and broken before that vision of love, it feels that indeed all it ever knew was nothing or less than nothing.
Such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be workers and ministers. And it has no word for some of them, as they have already entered into that level of love, which I am compelled to write.
– Amy Carmichael
This book has been edited for the modern reader. Words, expressions, and sentence structure have been updated for clarity and readability with all intent to preserve the heart of Amy Carmichael’s message. A verse from Scripture and a prayer of response have been added to each “if” statement, which makes this book a wonderful devotional companion.
Although the author stated this was a book only for those called to be workers and ministers, we understand that all of us are called to be ministers of the gospel in our workplaces, where we meet people in the marketplace and as examples in our homes.
[_But ye are the chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, an acquired people, that ye should show forth the virtues of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light _](1 Peter 2:9).
The message of [_If _]is an appropriate reminder for all of us to live is such a way that we demonstrate the love Jesus Christ showed at Calvary.
There are times when something comes into our lives that is charged with love in such a way that it opens the eternal to us for a moment, or at least some of the eternal things, and the greatest of these is love.
It may be a small and intimate touch upon us or our affairs, light as the touch of the dawn wind on the leaves of the tree, something not to be captured or expressed in words. But we know that it is our Lord. Perhaps the room where we are, with its furniture and books and flowers, seems less “present” than His presence, which draws the heart into that sweetness as the old hymn sings, “The love of Jesus, what it is – none but his loved ones know.”
Or, the dear human love about us might bathe us as in summer seas and bring rest to us through and through. Can we ever cease to wonder at the love of our companions? And then suddenly, we recognize our Lord in them. His love is what they lavish on us. O love of God, made manifest in Your lovers, we worship You.
Or we might look up through the blue air and see the love of God. And yet, after all this, how little we see! Not often, perhaps, for dimness seems to be greater here. But sometimes we see because our Lord is very merciful. May we[_ be able to well comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height and to know the charity of the Christ, which passes all knowledge _](Ephesians 3:18-19).[* *]These words are too great for us.
What do we comprehend? What do we know? Confounded and abased, we enter into the rock and hide in the dust before the glory of the majesty of love – the love whose symbol is the cross.
And a question pierces then; what do I know of Calvary love?
If I do not have compassion on my fellow servant even as my Lord had pity on me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
Then his lord, after he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked slave, I forgave thee all that debt because thou didst beseech me; was it not also expedient unto thee to have mercy on thy fellowslave even as I had mercy on thee (Matthew 18:32-33)?
Thank you, Lord, for having compassion and mercy on me. Open my eyes that I might remember your love and show me how to share that same love with those around me.
If I belittle those I am called to serve, or talk of their weak points in contrast to what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude – forgetting who makes thee to judge? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?1 – then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in humility let each esteem others better than themselves _](Philippians 2:3).
Lord, help me look after the things of others rather than my own. May I not exalt myself, but rather experience the joy of humility and like-mindedness of your Son who emptied Himself when He became man.
11 Corinthians 4:7
If I discuss the shortcomings and the sins of anyone; if I speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good for edification, that it may minister grace unto the hearers _](Ephesians 4:29).
Oh dear Lord, give me the courage and discernment I need when communicating with others that I might not talk of things I should not. Remind me to not dwell on the failures of others, but remember instead your overcoming love for them.
If I find myself carelessly lapsing and thinking, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” or “Oh, of course she talks like that; he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed because his mercies never diminish. They are new every morning; great is thy faith _](Lamentations 3:22-23).
Give me mercy for others, Lord, that overlooks their weaknesses and cares for their heart, lest I be caught judging others and bringing that judgement on myself.
If I enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I slight another in conversation or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer seem smooth, but they go down into the innermost parts of the belly _](Proverbs 18:7-8).
Dear Lord, I need you to help me tame my tongue. Help me to be an encourager – to focus on what is true, honest, and just. May I speak wholesome words to those around me about those I know.
If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God has forgiven you in Christ _](Ephesians 4:32).
Thank you for pouring all kindness and love out to me in sending your Son to die for me. Help me in extending that same love to everyone with whom I have contact, through your Son, my Lord and Savior.
If I am not more grieved for my Savior than for myself when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_For before certain ones came from James, he _][Peter] [_ate with the Gentiles, but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision _](Galatians 2:12).
Too often, Lord, my fears hinder me from speaking up when I know I should express your grace and mercy, your love and salvation to others. Forgive me for my lack of faith and strengthen me in the troublesome times to bring your good news to all who need to hear.
If I know little of His pity (the Lord turned and looked upon Peter2),[* *]if I know little of His hope for the truly humble and penitent (He saith unto him, Feed my lambs3), then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death _](Philippians 1:20).
Lord, teach me from Peter, who wept bitterly after denying your Son. Help me understand the hope Jesus gave us that I may not be ashamed, but only bring glory to you as He is magnified in me.
2Luke 22:61, KJV
3John 21:15, KJV
If I deal with wrong for any other reason than that implied in the words at his right hand the law of fire for them…Yea he loved the peoples;4[* *]if I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Preach the word; be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine _](2 Timothy 4:2).
I know you intend for us to correct each other, Lord, but please guide me and direct me to do so with the right attitude. May I always be loving and compassionate in my dealings with all of your servants, even as your Son lovingly reproved His disciples.
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.
[_And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. Therefore as long as we have the opportunity, let us do good unto everyone, especially unto those who are of the household of faith _](Galatians 6:9-10).
May I forever remember the great patience and longsuffering you have shown us, Lord, and be strengthened to carry on in like manner. Thank you for loving me enough to persevere in my times of weakness. May I follow your example.
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 to take effect, because of the distress it causes me to see that law in operation, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_For the LORD chastens whom he loves and delights in, even as a father to his son _](Proverbs 3:12).
Help me when I struggle to train my children and those in my charge. Give me strength to discipline them when it grieves my heart to impose unpleasantness on them. May I always remember how it grieves you to correct me.
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.
[_The scorner does not love the one that reproves him, neither will he go unto the wise _](Proverbs 15:12).
Oh dear Lord, reproving those for whom I am responsible grieves me because I know I bring sorrow to them. Please give me wisdom in correcting others and then peace to move forward.
If I cannot catch the sound of abundance of rain5 long before the rain falls; if, going to some hilltop – as near to my God as I can – and have not faith to wait 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,6 then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Therefore I say unto you that everything that ye ask for, praying, believe that ye receive it, and it shall come upon you _](Mark 11:24).
I know you promise to answer my prayers, Lord. And I know you have given me many examples and experiences by answering me, but please help my unbelief. Help me to remember you are faithful.
5I Kings 18:41
6I Kings 18:44
If my attitude is 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.
[_[Charity] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity is never lost _](1 Corinthians 13:7-8).
Teach me to love as you love, Lord, and not allow disappointment to hinder me in my work. Help me to persevere with those who stumble and fall. Help me to be a light to them, that they may rise again to bring honor and glory to you.
If I do not look with eyes of hope on those who have a weak beginning as our Lord did when, after His disciples had wrangled about who would be the greatest, He softened His rebuke with those heart-melting words, but ye are those who have continued with me in my temptations,[* *]then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching in this with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints _](Ephesians 6:18).
I lose heart and grow weary when I do not see growth in others. Forgive me, Lord. Sustain my hope to the end for the people in my life and help me deal with them in the most understanding, compassionate way.
If I remind another of a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin and allow my memory of that sin to color my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my rebellions; according to thy mercy remember me for thy goodness’ sake _](Psalm 25:7).
Oh dear Lord, make me like you that I might forgive and then forget the wrongs of others, whether they are against me or against others. Help me to be tenderhearted and forgiving, as you have forgiven me for Christ’s sake.
If I do not have the patience of my Savior 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.
[_The Lord is not late concerning his promise, as some count lateness, but is patient with us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance _](2 Peter 3:9).
May I walk worthy of your calling and with joy wait patiently for others to understand, believe and grow. I thank you for those you have brought into my life to guide and direct me, and for those you’ve given me to mentor and inspire.
If I sympathize weakly with weakness and say to one who is turning back from the cross, “Pity thyself;” if I refuse such a person the sympathy that braces and the brave and heartening word of comradeship, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Do not fear for I am with thee; do not be dismayed, for I am thy God, who strengthens thee; I will help thee always; I will always uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness _](Isaiah 41:10).
Teach me from your example, Lord, when you promised to uphold Israel at a crucial moment. May I always be an encourager for anyone who may weaken and stumble, coming alongside to bring assistance and hope when needed.
If I cannot keep silent over a disappointing soul (unless for the sake of that soul’s good or for the good of others it is necessary to speak), then I know nothing of Calvary love.
She opened her mouth with wisdom, and the law of mercy is upon her tongue (Proverbs 31:26).
Oh, Lord, may I bridle my tongue when I’m tempted to correct more than is necessary. Help me be discerning to know the difference between what is crucial and what is not, and show all kindness to anyone I deal with.
If I hurt another by speaking faithfully without much preparation of spirit and without hurting myself far more than I hurt the other person, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to respond to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and reverence _](1 Peter 3:15).
Lord, thank you for your Word that I can know you and be led by your Spirit. I want to cherish that Word in my heart to be ready in season and out to give compassionate guidance without undue pain for that person.
If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection or 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.
[_That utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in this I may speak boldly as I ought to speak _](Ephesians 6:19-20).
Lord, may I love your truth and share it boldly, as the apostle Paul did – even to the point of imprisonment or loss of friendship. Please help me forget myself and guide me in the words I use that they may touch the hearts of those who hear them.
If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when is no peace;7 if I forget the poignant word, let love be without dissimulation8 and blunt the edge of truth, speaking smooth things instead of right things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life, And receive some with mercy, discerning; And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh _](Jude 1:21-23).
Thank you for knowing what I need to help me walk with you. May I also understand the people in my life and their individual characteristics that I may know best how to share your words of salvation with them.
7Jeremiah 6:14, KJV
8Romans 12:9, KJV
If I fear to hold another to the highest goal because it is so much easier to avoid doing so, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_And whatever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ _](Colossians 3:23-24).
I know you tell me to do everything with all my heart, Lord, but I ask that you help me to not be afraid to encourage others and spur them on to do likewise. Your Son pressed on to the end for me; may I do likewise.
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.
[_Then Jesus said unto his disciples, If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me _](Matthew 16:24).
Please take all of me, Lord, that I may be wholly yours. Help me to hold loosely those things, even those blessings, that I have here, that I may be available for service to you at any time.
If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if – though I have this ministry and have received much mercy – I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_For whosoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it _](Matthew 16:25).
I know that as I delight in you my desires and wishes will come from you, Lord. I not only thank you for the work you have given me, but I also thank you that your work can bring more happiness to me than anything I might conjure up.
If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not practice fortitude by the grace of God, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand firm against the wiles of the devil _](Ephesians 6:10-11).
Thank you for providing what I need to stand firm when I am inclined to weaken and fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself. Remind me to always draw my strength from you, Lord, to face whatever situation I may encounter today.
If I dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve around myself; if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,”9 then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_With each one not looking to their own things, but also to the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who…emptied himself, taking the form of a slave _](Philippians 2:4-5, 7a).
Thank you for the sacrifice you made in sending your Son. Help me to recognize when I am focusing on myself, and give me the wisdom to know how to refocus on you and the work you have given me.
9Anna L. Waring, Father, I Know That All My Life (1850).
If I do not shut the door the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, and if I do not keep that door shut in the power of _Him who works in us to will and to work_,10 then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself _](Galatians 6:3).
So quickly my thoughts turn to me and my desires. Let your Word, Lord, be just as quick and powerful to convict me of this and reverse my attention.
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.
[_Then, sitting down, he called the twelve and said unto them, If anyone desires to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant unto them _](Mark 9:35).
Help me not to compare myself to others or desire the position of greatest honor. Teach me how to be happy when others seem better than me, but also to be humble when you bless me in a special way. May I always recognize that without you I am nothing.
If when I am able to discover something which has baffled others, I forget Him who reveals the deep and secret things, and knows what is in the darkness and shows it to us; if I forget that it was He who granted that ray of light to His most unworthy servant, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_And if anyone thinks that they know anything, they know nothing yet as they ought to know _](1 Corinthians 8:2).
I thank you, Lord, for teaching me in your Word. I pray that I may grow in the knowledge of your will and your truth in the love of Christ which passes all knowledge, recognizing that only you can give that knowledge to me.
If I cannot be at rest under the unexplained, forgetting the Word, _and blessed is he who is not offended in me_,11 or if I can allow the least shadow of misunderstanding, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus _](Philippians 4:6-7).
When I am bothered by someone or something, Lord, let me remember your Word and bring those concerns to you that I may experience your peace in the midst of a problem.
If I do not give a friend the benefit of the doubt, but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_I thank my God upon every remembrance of you always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now _](Philippians 1:3-5).
Lord, help me remember to pray for my friends when situations occur which cause me to doubt them or their motives. Help me to be loving and understanding in all affairs.
If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_This is my commandment, That ye love one another as I have loved you _](John 15:12).
Your Word is so clear here, Lord. Help me to share your love, even when I feel offended. Help me to show a genuine friendliness to all those around me.
If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, knowing that a cupful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitterness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Speaking among yourselves with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praising the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always for all things unto the God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ _](Ephesians 5:19-20).
Fill me with so much praise for you, Lord, that I am not able to speak with unloving words to any around me. Let me encourage and edify those around me with your love.
If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_For it is better (if the will of God so desires) that ye suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For the Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust _](1 Peter 3:17-18a).
When I am hurt in an unjust way, Lord, may I learn to only rejoice in suffering in the same fashion as your Son and bring glory only to you.
If I feel bitterly toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself, they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil speaking be taken away from you, with all malice _](Ephesians 4:31).
Though I know there is no condemnation in those who are in your Son, Jesus Christ, help me with the bitter feelings I have toward those who try to condemn me. Let me rest assured that I am set free by the law of the Spirit.
If I say, “Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,” as though the God who washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Forbearing one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a quarrel against another: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye _](Colossians 3:13).
Thank you for forgiving me and no longer remembering my sin and failures. Help me to forget when others offend me, in the same way as you have forgotten my sins.
If one whose help I greatly need appears to be as content to build in wood, hay, and stubble, as in gold, silver, and precious stones, and I if hesitate to obey my light and do without that help because so few will understand, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_At my first answer no one stood with me, but all men forsook me: let it not be imputed unto them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me _](2 Timothy 4:16-17a).
Help me to see clearly, Lord, what you would have me do without judging what you might have my brother do. May we all work to bring glory and honor to you.
If the care of a soul (or a community) be entrusted to me, and I consent to subject it to weakening influences, because the voice of the world – my immediate Christian world – fills my ears, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops to feed the congregation of God, which he has purchased with his own blood _](Acts 20:28).
What responsibility you gave me for teaching the ones you have put in my life! Help me to remain true to your Word and stand fast against anything that may weaken your offer of salvation through Christ, our Savior.
If I can best help others by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not spiritual work,” and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting I crave, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_With good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing anyone does the same shall they receive of the Lord, whether they are slaves or free _](Ephesians 6:7-8).
Lord, help me to remember I can do all my work for you – to bring honor and glory to you. May I forever recall that no work is too menial or unimportant.
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.
[_My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse trials, knowing that the proving of your faith works patience, and the patience finishes the work, that ye may be perfect and entire, not lacking in anything _](James 1:2-4).
So many trifles in my life can cause anxiety and irritation, Lord. Yet I know you want me to be patient with people and faithful in my work. Help me listen to you and be obedient.
If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others or their feelings or 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.
[_Loving one another with brotherly love, with honour preferring one another _](Romans 12:10).
Yes, love truly is the answer as we live and work together. Allow me, Lord, to extend that compassion and courtesy to all those with whom I work, being sensitive to their needs. I thank you for giving me your love to share each day.
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.
[_And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but only one thing is necessary, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her _](Luke 10:41-42).
This world pulls me in many directions. I know the best part is knowing you, Lord, but I also know that many of my day-to-day duties seem to take my focus away from you. Help me, moment-by-moment, to keep you at the center of all I do and say that I may bring glory to you.
If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_I have showed you in all things how that so labouring, ye ought to support the weak and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive _](Acts 20:35).
I am sorry, Lord, for when I fail to notice someone who is suffering or in need. Please help me to be more discerning and to reach out to such people in your love. Please use me to meet their needs.
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.
[Now when Jesus heard this _][that the rich man kept the commandments][, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing; sell all that thou hast and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me _](Luke 18:22).
How little faith I have, Lord, when I want to cling to something for pleasure or security. Please help my unbelief in the areas where I struggle, that I may live a rich life of faith and dependence on you.
If I become entangled in any “inordinate affection;”12 if things or places or people hold me back from obedience to my Lord, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil lust, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience _](Colossians 3:5-6).
Protect me from these entanglements that are all around us. Having put these things aside at the cross, with all of my life let me honor Christ who gave Himself for me.
If something I am asked to do for another feels burdensome; if, yielding to an inward unwillingness, I avoid doing it, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Therefore sin is still in the one that knows to do good and does not do it _](James 4:17).
I know real compassion is not convenient. Please speak to me, Lord, when I falter, and remind me to do what is right and good.
If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the slave of Christ _](Galatians 1:10).
The temporal praise of men is alluring, Lord, but I know my desire is to please you. Help me to be humble in all sincerity and always look to the needs of others before myself.
If I crave hungrily to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; if I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that another may give the word of release, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters, but God that gives the increase. Now he that plants and he that waters are one although each one shall receive his own reward according to his own labour _](1 Corinthians 3:7-8).
Thank you, Lord, for making us laborers together for the kingdom you are building. Help me faithfully do the part you have given me without concern over the ministry of others. May we all work together in the love of Christ.
If I want to be known as the doer of something that has proved the right thing, or known as the one who suggested it should be done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_When pride comes, then comes shame, but with the humble is wisdom _](Proverbs 11:2).
Dear Lord, help me to be humble even while I strive to do the right and good thing. May I always lift others up without concern for myself, as your Son did for me.
If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given a moment’s room there; if the cup of spiritual flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Be unanimous among yourselves, not high minded, but accommodating the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion _](Romans 12:16).
Let my so-called accomplishments slip from my mind that I may not be tempted to think higher of myself than I ought. Help me learn to forget about myself and my accomplishments.
If it is not simple and a natural thing to say, “Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets,”13 then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him _](Ephesians 1:17).
Lord, help me be like the apostle Paul and wish and pray you would illuminate my fellow believers with your understanding, that they would know the exceeding greatness of your power through your son, Jesus Christ.
13Numbers 11:29, KJV
If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin and are accused of the law as rebels _](James 2:9).
Prompt me to show compassion and consideration to all those around me, Lord, so others feel equally cared for and inclined to grow in their walk with you.
If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ; if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_And our hope of you is steadfast, being certain, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation _](2 Corinthians 1:7).
Oh Lord, you know it is easier for me to suffer than to watch someone I love suffer persecution, but help me understand that persecution is a high honor, and one to rejoice over. Help me also know when and how to pray for release of suffering according to your will.
If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading them to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ _](Philippians 1:6).
May I fully recognize that you are the one, Lord, who guides and directs and helps us grow. Help me to direct people back to you for truth and growth.
If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_We then that are stronger ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbour in that which is good, unto edification _](Romans 15:1-2).
Help me to put myself aside, Lord, and focus and concentrate on the burdens of others to lighten their load and share their joy.
If when an answer I did not expect comes to a prayer which I believed I truly meant, I shrink back from it; if the burden my Lord asks me to bear is not the burden of my heart’s choice, and I fret inwardly and do not welcome His will, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls _](Matthew 11:28-29).
Help me to do the work, Lord, that you have set before me even when it is not of my choosing. Guide me as I accomplish it according to your will.
If I avoid being “plowed under”14 with all that such plowing entails of rough handling, isolation, disagreeable situations, strange tests, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_For our tribulation, which is momentary and light, prepares an exceeding and eternal weight of glory unto us _](2 Corinthians 4:17).
May I not run from persecution or even uncomfortable situations that come because of knowing you, Lord. Help me rejoice as Paul did in suffering for your name’s sake.
14Reference to Amy Carmichael, [_Ploughed Under _](1938).
If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment or go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me _](Psalm 13:1)?
Help me, Lord, when I become discouraged, and like David wonder – how long? Guide me when I do not understand, so I may stand firm in the faith though I do not see clearly.
If I make much of anything appointed to me, magnify it secretly to myself or insidiously to others; if I let them think it hard, if I look back longingly upon what used to be and linger among the byways of memory, so my power to help is weakened, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Brethren, I do not reckon to have laid hold of it yet, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and extending myself unto those things which are ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus _](Philippians 3:13-14).
Help me to not dwell on things from the past – whether they are successes or failures. May I only press forward to the work you have placed in front of me.
If the love that “alone maketh light of every heavy thing, and beareth evenly every uneven thing”15 is not my heart’s desire, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_With all humility and meekness, with tolerance, forbearing one another in love, being diligent to guard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace _](Ephesians 4:2-3).
Lord, let my love for you and the people around me grow such that the burdens we share will be light. Even more, thank you for your Son who promised His burden to be light.
15Thomas à Kempis
If I refuse to be a kernel of wheat that falls into the ground and dies16 (is separated from all in which it lived before), then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me _](Galatians 2:20).
Thank you, Lord, for this marvelous truth of what it means to die with your Son. Thank you for making it possible for me to live His life and for the promise of eternal life.
If I ask to be delivered from trial rather than for deliverance out of it to the praise of His glory; if I forget that the way of the cross leads to the cross and not to a bank of flowers; if I regulate my life on these lines, or even unconsciously my thinking, so that I am surprised when the way is rough, and think it strange, though the Word says:[* *]think it not strange,17 count it all joy,18 then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of the afflictions of the Christ, so that also in the revelation of his glory, ye may rejoice in triumph _](1 Peter 4:13).
Finding joy in adversity is hard for me, Lord, but I trust you to use whatever trials come my way to work for patience and increased faith. Thank you for being faithful and true.
17I Peter 4:12
If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of my brothers, ye did it not to me _](Matthew 25:43, 45).
Oh dear Lord, help me to be sensitive and discerning with those around me, that I might know when they need something without them having to ask. Let me present myself in such a way that they feel welcome and cared for.
If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
[_Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also _](Matthew 6:20-21).
May I say with the apostle Paul that I count all of this here as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of my Lord. Things in this world are nothing, and my only desire is to know you and the power of resurrection.
I have felt a scorching drive to write these words, but it is borne upon me that, in spite of all our hymns and prayers (so many of them about love), it is possible to be content with the shallows of love, if indeed such shallows should be called love at all.
Perhaps prayer often needs to be followed by a little pause, that we may have time to open our hearts to that for which we have prayed. We often rush from prayer to prayer without waiting for the word within, which says, “I have heard you, my child.”
The more we ponder our Lord’s words about love and the burning words the Spirit gave to His followers to write, the more acutely we feel our deadly lack.
The searchlight of the Spirit exposes us to ourselves, and such a discovery leaves us appalled. How can even He who is the God of all patience have patience with us? Like Job, we abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes.
But the light is not turned upon us to rob us of our hope. There is a lifting up. If only we desire to be purged from self with its entangling nets, its subtleties, its disguises – falsehoods truly – its superficial showing of brass for gold,19 as Scripture says. If, hating unlove from the ground of the heart, we cry to be delivered, then our God will be to us a God of deliverances.
No vision of the night can show, no word declare, with what longings of love, divine love, waits till the heart, all weary and sick of itself, turns to its lord and says, “Take full possession.” There is no need to plead that the love of God shall fill our heart, as though He were unwilling to fill us; He is willing as light is willing to flood a room that is opened to its brightness; willing as water is willing to flow into an emptied channel. Love is pressing round us on all sides like air. Cease to resist, and instantly love takes possession. As the fifteenth century poem, “Quia Amore Langueo” says:
“Long thou for love never so high,
My love is more than thine may be.”
More, far more. For as His abundance of pardon passes our power to tell it, so does His abundance of love. It is far as the East is from the West, as high as the heaven is above the earth. But words fail. Love soars above them all.
To look at ourselves leads to despair. Thank God, the blood cleanses.
If thou be foul, I shall thee make clean,
If thou be sick, I shall thee heal,
Foundest thou ever love so real?
Never, Lord, never.20
Sometimes, when we are distressed by past failure and tormented by fear of failure in the future, nothing helps so much as to give some familiar Scripture time to enter into us and become part of our being. The words “grace for grace” have been a help to me since I read a little old book of Bishop Moule’s. (Till then I had not understood them.) He said for means simply “instead.” Moule said:
The image is of a perpetual succession of supply; a displacement ever going on; ceaseless changes of need and demand.
The picture before us is as of a river. Stand on its banks and contemplate the flow of waters. A minute passes, and another. Is it the same stream still? Yes. But is it the same water? No. The liquid mass that passed you a few seconds ago now fills another section of the channel; new water has displaced it, or if you please, replaced it:[* ]water instead of water.[ *]And so, hour by hour, and year by year, and century by century, the process holds; one stream, other waters, living, not stagnant, because always in the great identity, there is perpetual exchange. Grace takes the place of grace, and love takes the place of love; ever new, ever old, ever the same, ever fresh and young, for hour by hour, for year by year, through Christ.
There is no force strong enough to hold us together as a company and animate all our doings, but His one force of love; and so there is a constant attack upon the love without which we are sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.21
That explains why, every now and then, those who want to live the life of love seem to be constrained to seek the searchings and the cleansing of the Spirit of God – first in the secret of our own hearts and then together. We know how graciously God has answered us, so that, though our word must always be not as though I had already attained;22 we do, by His enabling, press onward.
There is another reason why the adversary attacks love. Far out on our uttermost rim, a thing may occur which is the reflection, so-to-speak, of something that was nourished in the heart of one who is in the very center. I have often known it to be so. Perhaps it was never expressed in act or word; the eye did not see it; the ear did not hear it. But spiritual influences move where sight and hearing have no place, and unlove in any one of us – or even an absence of the quality of love of which we have been thinking – is enough to cause the slow stain to spread till it reaches some soul in a moment of its weakness. And irreparable harm may result.
O Lord, forgive; Your property is always to have mercy. Give me the comfort of Your help again. Let it be Your pleasure to deliver me, O Lord my God.
The way of love is never the easy way. If our hearts are set on walking in that way, we must be prepared to suffer. “It was the way the Master went; should not the servant tread it still?”23 It is possible that we may be enclosed in circumstances, which drain natural love, till we feel as dry as grass on an Indian hillside under a burning sun.
We have toiled for someone dear to us, but never knew it as toil. We have poured out stores of health, never to be recovered, but did not know it, nor would we have cared if we had known it, so dearly did we love. And all our hope was that the one so cherished would become a minister to others. But it was not so.
And then unwillingly, we become aware of a strange unresponsiveness in the one for whom nothing had seemed too much to do – of a coldness that chilled, a hardness that pushed away, as with hard hands the heart that had almost broken, to save that life from destruction.
Then – but only those who have gone through such a bereft hour will understand – a fear worse than any pain has us in its grip. Is the love of the years slipping from us? Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do24 – is that fading from our memory? Love never faileth25 – is love failing now? Shall we find ourselves meeting lovelessness with lovelessness?
In such an hour, a poem, now many years old, that expressed a desperate prayer burned into words:
Deep unto deep, O Lord,
Crieth in me,
Gathering strength, I come,
Lord unto Thee.
Jesus of Calvary,
Smitten for me,
Ask what thou wilt, but give
Love to me.
Yes, ask what You will – any hopes, any joys of human affection, any rewards of love – but let not love depart. Nothing ordinary is equal to this new call; nothing in me suffices for this. O Lord of love and Lord of pain, abound in me in love. Love through me, Love of God.
Our dear Lord listens to the prayer that goes not out of feigned lips. And it is written for our comfort that he causes those who love Him to inherit substance – the wonderful “substance” that is “grace instead of grace,” the perpetual gift of His fullness. This grace is no mere “impersonal substance,” but God working in us, the Lord in action in our very springs of thought and will. God is love. So, for us, love is this blessed “substance” that the children of the Father are caused to inherit.
It is the river’s word again. The empty riverbed “inherits” the water that pours through it from the heights. It does not create that water; it only receives it, and its treasuries are filled. Its pools overflow for the blessing and refreshment of the land. It is so with us. Our treasuries of time, our years with all their months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes are filled with the flowing treasure of love that we may help others. Who could have thought of such joy for us but He whose name is Love?
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory (Ephesians 3:20-21a).
Let’s end on a very simple note. Let’s listen to simple words; our Lord speaks simply. “Trust me, my child,” He says. “Trust me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandon to my will than ever you did before. Trust me to pour my love through you, as minute succeeds minute. And if you are conscious of anything hindering that flow, do not hurt my love by going away from me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt so much as that. Draw all the closer to me; come, flee unto me to hide you, even from yourself. Tell me about the trouble. Trust me to turn my hand upon you and thoroughly to remove the boulder that has choked the riverbed, and take away all the sand that has silted up the channel. I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you. I will perfect that which concerns you. Fear not, O child of my love; fear not.”
And now, to gather all in one page:
Beloved, let us love.
Lord, what is love?
Love is that which inspired my life and led me to my cross and held me on my cross. Love is that which will make it your joy to lay down your life for your brethren.
Lord, evermore give me this love.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after love, for they shall be filled.
20Quia Amore Langueo
21I Corinthians 13:1, KJV
22Philippians 3:12, KJV
23Hroatius Bonar, [_Go, Labor On: Spend and Be Spent _](1843).
24Luke 23:24, KJV
25I Corinthians 13:8, ASV
About the Author
Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) was a missionary, ministry founder, and prolific author. Her booklet, If, is currently one of the most popular. Carmichael is widely known for her steadfastness in faith and dedication to go and do whatever her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, asked her to do.
Dohnavur Fellowship website: www.dohnavurfellowship.org.in
[_If _]– Amy Carmichael
Revised Edition Copyright © 2016
First edition published 1938
This version is based on SBN 87508-071-5, by CLC, which contains no copyright notice and is now in the public domain. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Jubilee Bible copyright © 2000, 2001, 2010, 2013 by Life Sentence Publishing, Inc. Used by permission of Life Sentence Publishing, Inc., Abbotsford, Wisconsin. All rights reserved.
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RELIGION / Christian Life / Spiritual Growth
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If weighed in a balance, far more conversation and preaching is centered on the nature of salvation than is given to the subject of how we live as Christians. This is unfortunate, especially when so much of Scripture hones in on how to live victoriously (Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in the heavens is perfect – Matthew 5:48). In this small book, If, Amy Carmichael asks little questions that, if examined in the Spirit, pack a big punch. Each question provides an opportunity to consider our motives and align our thoughts, attitudes and actions with those of Christ. How can we teach others the way of the cross if we don’t first allow the Lord to deal with us? A relevant Bible verse and prayer follow each “if” question in this edition. The intent is that it would be used as a daily devotional and a launching pad for deeper study and prayer for the edification of the reader.