“Amy didn’t like her dark brown eyes,” our teacher explained to my fourth grade class. “She thought blue eyes were much prettier, like her chubby baby brother had.”
I sat cross-legged on the floor, eyes glued to the pen-and-ink illustrations of the large spiral-bound book. As my teacher brought to life the story of a feisty little Irish girl named Amy Carmichael, I listened with rapt attention.
“So, believing that God hears and answers prayer, young Amy knelt beside her bed one night and asked God to please change her brown eyes to blue. She went to bed happy, confident that He would answer her prayer. But in the morning, Amy was crushed to discover the same brown eyes staring back at her from the mirror.”
Fingering one of my long braids, I sighed softly. I could identify with Amy. Every time I read of Rapunzel’s shining golden hair or Goldilocks’ curly tresses, I imagined how much prettier I would be if my stick-straight dark brown hair could be transformed into soft blonde curls.
“In 1895 Amy Carmichael signed up for missionary service and sailed to India,” our teacher continued. “She was horrified by the plight of young girls sold as slaves in the Hindu temples. So she began to rescue and care for them. But it was dangerous work. The temple priests didn’t want the girls to leave. So in order to not attract unnecessary attention to herself as a foreigner, Amy decided to dress in the colorful native saris. She even used coffee to make her pale skin darker!”
“Finally Amy realized God’s wisdom in not answering her childhood requests to change her eye color. Blue eyes would have been impossible to hide. But her dark brown eyes were the same color as the Indians that jostled her in the streets! Over the next fifty-six years, through Amy Carmichael’s rescue missions, she became ‘Amma,’ or mother, to over one thousand abandoned and abused children. All this may not have been possible if God had answered her prayer and changed her eyes to blue!”
Trusting God’s Purpose
Mouth gaping, my ten-year-old brain tried to take this in. So God has a reason for making my hair brown instead of blonde? I couldn’t imagine what that reason could be. But I thought that if Amy Carmichael could trust God’s purpose in giving her brown eyes instead of blue, then I could maybe trust Him too.
Years later, as God took me to Latin America and to East Asia, I realized that my dark hair was a blessing. I was able to blend in more with the crowd, crossing some of the cultural barriers and prejudices against outsiders. I certainly couldn’t pass for Guatemalan or Chinese. But, I didn’t stand out nearly as much as a blonde or red-head!
The God of all the universe has a specific purpose for YOU. Even if you never understand it all, you can trust Him. He will use everything in your life, even the difficult or painful things, for good.
“I am God and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man for my purpose from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass, I have planned, and I will do it.” Isaiah 46:9-11 (NRSV)