A remarkable Christian missionary and author, Amy Carmichael, wrote a book published in 1933 entitled Rose Briar. Carmichael ministered in India and started a home for children being rescued from being temple prostitutes. This book was written especially for the ill; the confined; the elderly; the handicapped; and the suffering.
Since she was bedridden for nearly 20 years, she writes from her experiences. My book is underlined, dog-eared and worn in many places, since I have been ill for nearly the last eight years. This book has ministered to me!
I have experienced much prayer being offered and still being offered on my behalf. I appreciate every prayer and I continue to pray constantly and thank God my healing was purchased because Jesus took the stripes on His back for my healing. I am healed by His stripes. God has healed me from kidney failure and my heart being totally out of rhythm and recovering from that. He has spared my life and I have the wonderful privilege to serve the Lord and be His servant.
Several people have mentioned to me that they feel they have been “laid aside.” They are no longer chosen to work in the Church, after years of being faithful at their post and loving to serve the Lord, but now it is over. They realize that the young people are the Church of tomorrow and are supportive of that, but they feel “laid aside” – discouraged, depressed!
I personally have been told, “Carolyn, you have been laid aside and put on a shelf.” This leaves me feeling like I have been disregarded by God, rejected, of no use!
Did you know that God’s soldiers are never laid aside or put on a shelf?
Amy Carmichael writes, “Soldiers may be wounded in battle and sent to hospitals. A hospital is not a shelf; it is a place of repair. And a soldier in the “spiritual army” is never off his battlefield. He is only removed to another part of the field when a wound interrupts what he is meant to do; and sets him to doing something else.”
No soldier or server is ever “LAID ASIDE.” He is only given another commission, sometimes just to suffer, (share Christ’s sufferings as Paul stated in his writings); sometimes in pain and weakness, to fight among the unseen forces of the field. Never, never, is he shelved as of no further use to HIS BELOVED CAPTAIN.
The soldier must let his Captain say where, and for what, He needs him most, and he must not cloud his mind with questions. There is no discharge in our warfare – no, not for a single day. SOLDIERS ARE NOT SHELVED.
You may be struggling physically, or perhaps life has hit you so hard in other areas, but “true valor” lies, NOT in what the world calls success, but the dogged going on when everything in you says, “Stop!” We must refuse the softness that would eventually sink to things below: dullness, selfishness and self-centeredness!
Even as we age, let us determine to go on and be just the soldier with orders that Jesus would give us, individually! Even though there may be a “briar” for us, we find a secret sweetness. But it is the sweetness of Love, God Himself, that is the sweetness. You who are in a great weariness, or the exhaustion that follows a sore hurt, or in the terrible grasp of pain, God understands and is not far away from us.
Amy Carmichael writes, “It seems clear to me beyond question, that in the lives of God’s beloved, there are sometimes periods when the adversary is given permission to overcome us. Yet our Lord is saying about each of us, and about us all, as a little company of His children, He says, ‘I can count on them for peace under any disappointment or series of disappointments, under any strain, I can trust them never to set limits, telling me, ‘Lord, this far and no further.’ I can trust them NOT to offer reluctant obedience of a doubted faith, but to be glad and merry as is possible.”
All that begins in the “gift of contentment.” God wants us to say, “My Lord, my Love, I am content with Thee. All my joy comes from You alone; not in services for You.” The child of God must be so, that GOD HIMSELF IS ENOUGH!
The Bible tells us that God is “Our refuge, our help, our strength; a very present help in the time of trouble.”
Amy Carmichael writes:
“Thou hast that, my child, but thou hast Me,
Am not I alone enough for thee?
I know it all; know how thy heart was set;
Upon this joy which is not given yet,
Know it all, know how through the wistful days,
Thou walkest all the dear familiar ways,
As unregarded as a breath of air,
But there is love and longing, always there,
I know it all; but from thy BRIAR shall flow,
A rose for others; if it were not so
I would have told thee; Come, then, say to ME,
My Lord, My Love, I am content with Thee!”
I mentioned that we are soldiers in a “spiritual army.” That means we have to walk in the Holy Spirit; finding out what God’s mind is regarding what we should do.
The Lord’s Prayer says, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” God is a jealous God. He knows how entangled we are in this world – the physical realm. But, today, He is encouraging us to lay aside the physical and begin to do His bidding.
Remember, we are not laid aside, but it’s not about us; it’s about Him and what He wants us to do.
Be the light of Jesus in your family, church and community. Look for the overlooked, the downtrodden, the hurting, the sick, the sinner. That’s what Jesus did!
Remember, even in old age, we can be vital and green.
Father, in Jesus’ Name, we come! Please help us to get out of the physical realm and more into what You want us to do. We offer our bodies a living sacrifice. Thank you that we are never laid aside or put on a shelf. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.