Martha Snell Nicholson, like Amy Carmichael, lived in the first half of the twentieth century. One spent most of her adult life as an invalid bound to her bed, suffering from chronic pain due to various medical conditions. The other, Amy Carmichael, went first as a missionary to Japan, and then to South India where she was able to rescue little children abandoned by their parents to a life of temple prostitution. The last twenty years of her life were spent confined to bed after a fall and devastating injury.
Martha Snell Nicholson (1886-1951):
I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.”
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.
He said, “My child, I give good gifts, and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.
Pain knocked upon my door and said
That she had come to stay;
And though I would not welcome her
But bade her go away,
She entered in. Like my own shade
She followed after me,
And from her stabbing, stinging sword
No moment was I free.
And then one day another knocked
Most gently at my door.
I cried, “No, Pain is living here,
There is no room for more”.
And then I heard His tender voice,
”‘Tis I, be not afraid”.
And from the day He entered in —
The difference it made!
For though He did not bid her leave,
(My strange, unwelcome guest,)
He taught me how to live with her.
Oh, I had never guessed
That we could dwell so sweetly here,
My Lord and Pain and I,
Within this fragile house of clay
While years slip slowly by!
Amy Carmichael (1867-1951):
Gone, they tell me, is youth
Gone is the strength of my life,
Nothing remains but decline,
Nothing but age and decay.
Not so, I’m God’s little child,
Only beginning to live;
Coming the days of my prime,
Coming the strength of my life,
Coming the vision of God,
Coming my bloom and my power.
Make Me Thy Fuel
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified,)
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.