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July 17, 2010

"we died before we came here"

While working in Asia, Amy Carmichael received a letter asking what her m--------y life was like. I wonder if the young lady sending the question wanted exotic stories. Elephant rides, jeweled children, bright colours. Amy wrote back honestly: "M--------y life is simply a chance to die." It was from this statement that Elizabeth Elliot took the title of her book about Carmichael's life and ministry.

Recently my mom passed along the following story. "A ship captain tried to dissuade James Calvert, [an] early m--------y to the New Hebrides, from going ashore by saying, 'You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among the cannibals of these islands.'" Calvert's stoic reply blows me away: “We died before we came here.” Another new m--------y to the same area was also warned as to his possible destiny. His response? “In the resurrection it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals (on the m-----n field) or by worms (at home).”

The zeal and discipline of these m----------s puts me to shame. But the "death" of which they speak is not just for m----------s. Every believer must die to self if he is to be productive for Christ. "...Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24). As Addison Leitch said, "When the will of God crosses the will of man, somebody has to die." Elizabeth Elliot writes, "Life requires countless 'little' deaths--occasions when we are given the chance to say no to self and yes to God." At each crossroads, big or small, I want to say with unquestioning allegiance, "I died before I came here." In death we find life abundant.


  1. Recently I read again in Luke 9:23-26 "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
    For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
    For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."