A million motes of dust danced in the tropical sunlight streaming through the window. On the bed, prostrate in the heat, an old woman lay watching them spin in the air. Then she sighed, reached for the paper lying beside her, took her pencil in aching fingers, and began to write.
For the last 20 years of her life, Amy Carmichael scarcely moved from that bed. Behind her lay decades of trailblazing missionary work in southern India—work that had made her world famous. But a fall in 1931, along with other health problems, made her an invalid. From then until her death in 1951, she was largely confined to one room.
Yet Amy’s influence did not end with her mobility. For Amy was a writer, and God wanted to make her words run where her legs could not.
Already an accomplished author (she published 21 books between 1895 and 1929), she continued writing despite nearly constant pain. She wrote at a table when she could, or on a writing stand in bed, or resting the paper on a blotter as she lay on her back. In the end she resorted to dictation because holding a pencil was too hard. But still the books came.
She produced seven more during her illness, and a further seven were compiled from her unpublished writings after her death. Altogether her books sold hundreds of thousands of copies and were translated into multiple languages. And they galvanized untold numbers with a passion to reach the world for Jesus.
Amy Carmichael’s body was confined, but what God wanted to do through her was not. He had purposes for her life—and her writing—beyond anything she could see. I realize the same thing about my own life whenever someone tells me how the Christian magazine I edited back in the 1980s was a lifeline for their faith. They still remember helpful things people wrote back then, 30 years later.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” When we submit our writing to Him, we never know what wonderful things He may do with it.
To echo a prayer Amy wrote in one of her books:
And now at His feet, who can use the least, I lay my writing again; for “to the Mighty One,” as the Tamil proverb says, “even the blade of grass is a weapon.”
Owen Salter has worked as editor and writer for over 35 years. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife Jane, and together they have three children and four grandchildren. Owen is an MAI trainer and a member of the MAI-Asia board.