Every Day We Die a Little

               “All I can offer you is a chance to die.”

Early missionaries did not pack trunks as they set off on long voyages across the world to take the gospel to hidden peoples. Instead, they each packed a coffin, one that would eventually be used to bury them in their new land.

What does this say about commitment? They knew their venture would end in death, yet they still chose to do it—the loss was worth the hopeful kingdom gain.

Flannery O’Connor once said, “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.”

In 1903 there was an excitement amongst genteel young Englishwomen who were eager to embrace the adventure of missionary life in India. As Amy Carmichael answered their letters, she submitted these terms:  “All I can offer you is a chance to die.”

As the 20th century began, Amy Carmichael’s rescuing of young girls from temple prostitution was groundbreaking early work in human trafficking.

Challenging. Dangerous. Humbling.

Yet Amy served there for fifty-five years without a furlough, establishing the Dohnavur Fellowship, which housed 900 children at the time of her death in 1951. These wounded and broken children called her “Amma,” the Tamil word for “Mother.”

Amy Carmichael understood the paradox in Jesus’ words: “If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Luke 9:24) Early in her missionary career, when crossed by a coworker, she had clearly heard the voice of God before she reacted in defense: “See in this a chance to die.” And thus began her journey of dying to self in order to give life to others.

In the middle of her vibrant ministry, Amy suffered a fall and was bedridden the last half of her life. She kept her windows and doors constantly open to the children, and she wrote volumes of poetry. (The epigraphs for sections in both my books Ordinary Graces and Dwelling Places are from Amy Carmichael’s poems.)

Jesus’ words about giving up our lives, remind us that as we release with open hands of surrender, we will be filled with grace gifts we never dared hope for. Give up your perceived right to control; and discover that God’s sovereignty will orchestrate everything better than you possibly imagined.

Do you realize that every gain comes through loss?

This month marks 39 years since the death of a young wife and mother I never knew, but whose life impacted mine greatly. What a loss this was to all who loved and needed her.

But it was my eventual gain. Only God.

Three years after Inka’s death, I received a priceless gift when I went to court in Seattle and adopted her three precious children. Justin, Tim, and Fiona have filled this mama’s life with more joy, purpose, on-my-knees-prayer, and hopes than you can imagine.

“The only way anyone gets to adoption is through a door of loss and unless you fully feel the depth of that loss, the door you’re walking through leads to nowhere honest.” (Ann Voskamp)

What are we willing to lose in order to know Him more fully? Our reputation? Our stuff? Our control? Our own dreams?

Only God.

under the mercy, Lucinda

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength”

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouragement at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

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  1. barbara on October 14, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    God love you! This gave me goosebumps. And seeped wisdom. Bless the soul of Inka, bless the magnificent voluminous heart of you. xoxox

  2. Maggie Rowe on October 14, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    Love Amy, one of my book mentors. Love you, one of my peer mentors. And also how amazing that you became the answer to Inka’s prayers for a mother who would love her children as much as she did.

  3. Ginger on October 14, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    What a beautiful blessing from loss. You’re so right, only God!

  4. Meadow Merrill on October 14, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    I love Amy too–and a beautiful quote from Ann Voskamp. Good reminders to hold onto during these challenging days. Thank you for sharing your own beautiful words of wisdom!

  5. Peggy McCleskey on October 14, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Thank you so much for helping us to put things in perspective.

  6. Polly Brown on October 15, 2020 at 12:58 am

    God began my call to India when I first heard a missionary at the age of 10. He led both me and my husband-to-be to Gordon College in 1946, where God called him, also to India. They had to create a new country in 1947, Pakistan, for God to lead us there when India didn’t want us. We went in 1954, stayed until 1988, raised our 5 children there. Amy Carmichael was one of role models along with Lilias Trotter of Algeria, (A Passion for thg Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness.) God gave me many opportunities to die. I was pretty self-centered and immature in 1954. Many of them are incorporated into my latest book, “Where is My Sister”, available on Amazon published in July 2020. Thank you, Lucinda for this wonderful post, and for the reminder of your story. Blessings, dear Sister!

  7. Elaine W. Miller on October 15, 2020 at 12:21 pm


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