Excerpted from Amy Carmichael's Gold by Moonlight
The Land of Far Distances
Often when our feet have been cut on the stones, and we are much tempted to think of the passing hurts, we turn a corner, and see outspread before our delighted eyes something so reviving and so beautiful that we forget about the travail of the way. It is with us then as it was with the young man in the Dothan story: our eyes are opened and we see what was there before we saw it; just as sometimes our ear is quickened and we hear in a new way. Spiritual sense may be refined at any moment. We are not all and only flesh.
Something like this happens even on the earthly plane. If one to whom beauty is not merely form and colour but the hem of the garment of God looks quietly and intently for a little while upon any lovely thing, he will presently see far more in it than he saw at first, and as he looks, thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls will disturb, or kindle, or delight him.
It was a touch of genius in John Bunyan that made him take his pilgrim to the top of the House Beautiful just after he had climbed the hill Difficulty, just before he met Apollyon, and long before he reached his journey's end. Even so did a greater John tell of a heavenly vision shown to him after he had climbed the steep hill of tribulation, before he fought a stern fight for the truth in a very evil age and many years before his race was run. It has always been the custom of our Father to let us look into heaven while the fogs of earth are about us. It is then that the earthly ceases to dominate. We have seen something better than that. And deep in our happy hearts we know that all that grieves us is but for a moment, and all that pleases is but for a moment, and only the eternal is important, as the words carved above the doors of Milan Cathedral declare.
These words have virtue in them. They can still us when we look at the world ("Let not the world deceive me and his short glory") and even at the professing church that strange travesty of the spiritual, where men praise him who doeth well to himself. There is not much happiness to be found in looking at the shell of things. But the shell is not the substance. All this that looks so important now is but for the moment. Only the eternal is important. And everywhere under the painted show God treasures the eternal.
On the wall of the guest-room of a Rhenish Mission house in Sumatra a gust saw a prayer, which he translated thus:
Light of eternity, light divine,
Into my darkness shine,
That the small may appear small,
And the great, greatest of all:
O light of eternity, shine.
The beautiful German hymn, of which this is the last verse, is a prayer for common days: Break forth, sweet shining of Divine light, illuminate our poor life, give strength to our feet, joy to our souls. There is care in the early morning, care in the late evening, fear, and heart-breaking trouble. Often a cold wind blows. Jesus Christ, Thou alone art the light of our hope, come forth and let us see Thy green pastures, the promise of Thy word. Light of eternity, shine.