When Amy Carmichael first sent her manuscript of Things as They Are for the church to publish, it was returned to her – “Too depressing. Edit so readers will feel good, and we’ll consider publishing.”
Amy replied: “It is more important that you should know about the reverses than about the successes of the war. We shall have all eternity to celebrate the victories, but we have only a few hours before sunset in which to win them. We are not winning them as we should, because the fact of the reverses is so little realized, and the needed reinforcements are not forthcoming, as they would be if the position were thoroughly understood…. So we have tried to tell you the truth – the uninteresting, unromantic truth.”
Now I will let Amy Carmichael tell you just how things are. Nothing has changed since she wrote the following over 100 years ago.
“The tom-toms thumped straight on all night, and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:
“That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.
“Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step…it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!
“Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.
“Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simple agony, any no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could not call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.
“Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were far too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.
“Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their backs turned towards the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them it disturbed them, and they thought it a rather vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. ‘Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chains yet. It would be really selfish,’ they said, ‘to leave us to finish the work alone.’
“There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.
“Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing aa change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
“Once a child caught a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called––but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.
“Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was––the Cry of the Blood.
“Ten thundered a Voice, the Voice of the Lord: ‘And He said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.’
“The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and the weird wild shriek of the devil-posessed just outside the gate.
“What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years…. Why make such a fuss about it?
“I write this under a sense of the solemnity of being ‘a servant…separated unto the Gospel.’ I would not write one word lightly. But oh! may I ask you to face it? Are we honest towards God? If we were, would these people be left to die as they are being left to die?
“We feel for them. But feelings will not save souls; it cost God Calvary to win us.
“It will cost us as much as we may know of the fellowship of His sufferings, if those for whom He died that day are ever to be won.” Excerpt from Things as They Are, by Amy Carmichael.
Amy isn’t the only one who wrote such things.
“My heart is stirred to the very depths. Words are inadequate to express my feelings as I plead for perishing souls. Must I plead in vain? As Christ’s ambassador I would arouse you to labor as you never labored before. Your duty cannot be shifted upon another. No one but yourself can do your work. If you withhold your light, someone must be left in darkness through your neglect.
“Eternity stretches before us. The curtain is about to be lifted. We who occupy this solemn, responsible position, what are we doing, what are we thinking about, that we cling to our selfish love of ease, while souls are perishing around us? Have our hearts become utterly callous? Cannot we feel or understand that we have a work to do for the salvation of others? Brethren, are you of the class who having eyes see not, and having ears hear not? Is it in vain that God has given you a knowledge of His will? Is it in vain that He has sent you warning after warning? Do you believe the declarations of eternal truth concerning what is about to come upon the earth, do you believe that God’s judgments are hanging over the people, and can you still sit at ease, indolent, careless, pleasure loving?” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 464.1 & 2.