My Father, quiet me,
Til in thy holy presence, hushed,
I think thy thoughts with Thee.
— Amy Carmichael (circa mid-1930s)
Amy Carmichael was an energetic, passionate missionary who gave every inch of her life to rescue the forgotten children of India. Victims of the caste system, these boys and girls had been exposed to unimaginable circumstances—child-headed households, trafficking and slavery, just to name a few. Her world seems to have been one of dichotomies:
- The mundane, daily tasks of caring for the ever-increasing numbers of children rescued and brought to her home in Dohnavur.
- The defining, life-altering moments of crisis, fear, exhilaration and grief.
But, really, isn’t that the rhythm of our stories, too?
We each have mundane, daily tasks. For example, we ask ourselves: Did I remember to change the toilet paper roll, take the dog to the vet, put gas in the car, pay the utility bill, take the kids to their activity, mow the grass, or stir the macaroni and cheese? (You get the picture.)
But we also have the heart-stopping moments—both the deeply terrifying and incredibly joyful—where our worlds are instantly changed, when:
You receive the diagnosis.
The marriage proposal comes.
The layoff notice arrives.
The pregnancy test is positive.
You experience a miscarriage.
The police call.
You receive that college acceptance letter.
You learn your children are doing drugs.
You land that dream job.
The fire/tornado/flood/hurricane strikes.
You sense God’s unmistakable presence.
Evil crosses the firewalls that we think insulate us and our loved ones.
These moments interrupt the daily mundane tasks, and our world stops for a moment, a day or even a year.
Amy Carmichael lived these same dichotomies. Her world was noisy. Our worlds are noisy.
I often find myself gravitating to Amy’s prayer. See, the noise of life unsettles my soul. These occasions cause me to become ramped up with either restlessness (in the mundane) or weariness (in the big moments). Even joy can cause anxiety because I know the joyful moments will all-too-soon slip away.
Seldom am I still. Even more seldom do I fix my thoughts upon the thoughts of my God. You, too, may experience the same in your mind and soul.
But here is the beauty of Amy’s prayer: Our father knows this about us, and he wants us to depend on him more. We need him in all the moments of our lives. Only he can quiet our souls.
That’s not to say that we don’t play a role in our spiritual rest. We must practice and devote time to spiritual disciplines: Prayer, scripture, worship, care for our bodies and minds, rest, quiet.
In other words, we must consistently preach to our souls the words of the old familiar hymn, “Be Still, My Soul”: