An Overflowing Cup

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  • **This week we continue our quarterly theme of Elisabeth Elliot’s Heroes of the Faith.

    “The Lord is gracious and compassionate.: good to all… faithful to all his promises… loving toward all he has made… righteous in all his ways… near to all who call on him… watches over all who love him… My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord” (from Psalm 145, NIV).

    As the year dwindles my heart swells. How to express the joy and gratitude for daily evidence of all the above? I thank God for all the saints whose lives have demonstrated to me what it means to be a Christian. Dr. May Powell, a remarkable English lady, died at age ninety-five. She had joined Amy Carmichael in her work in India in 1924, helping to build up the medical work and then, when Amy was injured, becoming co-leader with her of the Dohnavur Fellowship. After Amy’s death in 1951 the responsibility of leader fell to Dr. Powell. Eventually, she returned to England to care for two older sisters. Following their deaths she continued to serve the Lord she loved, always available to many who needed her prayers and her counsel.

    I visited her in England in 1983 when I was working on A Chance to Die, the biography of Amy Carmichael. She had given me specific instructions by phone as to train, taxi, and finding the residential home where she lived. She was waiting at the door, very tiny and erect, very cheerful and direct, reminding me at once (but in appearance only) of the old lady in “Beverly Hillbillies”!

    “So you’re Elisabeth. Come in. Do you know the word loo? (I did—British nickname for toilet.) Yes. There’s the loo. There’s your room. Tea at the top of these stairs in twenty minutes.” Up the stairs she went with great energy. Her room was not much more than a cell. A narrow cot, a small table with the teakettle, cups and biscuits all ready on a neat cloth, two chairs. A short bookshelf on the wall. Half of the books were Amy Carmichael’s. I had my notebook in hand.

    “What would you like to know?” she asked. There wasn’t time for nearly all my questions, but in those hours I knew that I had been with a very great woman, one of God’s hidden ones whose strength lies in nothing explainable by personality or heredity, but in Him who is Rock, Fortress, and Might, who is, “in the darkness drear their one true light,” whose distant song of triumph steals on our ears sometimes and makes our hearts brave again and our arms strong. Praise to God for such living flames of His love.

    **Excerpt originally published in Keep a Quiet Heart pp. 127-128.