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« Reply #480 on: March 12, 2007, 02:28:13 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: On Asking God Why
Scripture: Psalm 139
The Path of Lonliness


When I Was Being Made In Secret

As I drove into the yard a boy of nine raced across the lawn with his new golden retriever puppy on a training lead.

"Aunt Betty! This is Bucky! We just got him!" Within the next few minutes, I heard all about Bucky and about Charles's new collections of stamps, baseball cards, and toy cars (among them a police car, a space vehicle, a green hatchback, a Volkswagen with oversize tires, and a model of "Le Car"), as well as about his golf lessons ("I got a set of clubs, too!"), tennis lessons ("Look at my new racquet!"), the Christmas cards he is selling in order to win prizes, and about sleeping on the screened porch in a sleeping bag.

Nothing extraordinary or astonishing about this nine-year-old. He's lively, he has a very wide grin, he wears ragged cutoffs, and he even chopped up his shirt with scissors (collar and sleeves were too hot, he explained). His blond hair sticks out in funny places, and his striped tennis shoes seem as clumsily huge as Mickey Mouse's always did.

But yesterday when I visited this charming nephew of mine I thought of some people I saw last month when I went to a hospital in Mississippi to visit my new granddaughter Elisabeth. I peered eagerly through the nursery window along with all the other grandmothers and the smug fathers. "Ours" was shown to us by the nurse, a beautiful tiny thing clenching her perfect fists. I gazed as enthralled as though I had never seen a newborn child, as though Elisabeth were the first of her kind ever to appear to mystify and bewitch and melt the soul of a grandmother.

It was at the back of the nursery that I saw the people who affected me very differently but also very deeply. They were extremely small. A nurse thrust her hands into built-in rubber gloves in the side of an incubator and ever so gently lifted a little creature that looked infinitely more fragile and helpless than our baby, a "preemie" of perhaps two and a half pounds. He was one of several in incubators, and as I watched them lying there, eyes bandaged against the heat lamp, moving and breathing in their plastic boxes, I thought of Charles, who was just such a baby nine years ago. Born three months early, he was not expected to make it through the first night.

Earnestly prayed for by his parents and many others, cared for continuously by many hands as gentle as those of the nurse I watched in Mississippi, he survived.

Not long ago I saw a picture which will remain ineradicable in my mind: a black plastic garbage bag which contained what was left of the morning's work in one city hospital--four or five babies, some of them the size of Charles when he was born, some of them larger. They were rejects.

Who is it that makes the "selections"? Who may determine which tiny person is acceptable and may be permitted to be born (and if necessary, hovered over, cradled in a sterile temperaturecontrolled incubator to assist his survival), and which is unacceptable and may be treated as a cancer or a gangrenous growth and surgically or chemically removed? What perverted vision of "life enhancement" warrants such a choice?

Gloria Steinem appeared on television recently to speak about what she calls "pro-choice." What she did not say, what no proponent of abortion ever says, is that the choice they defend is the choice to kill people. Babies are people, but the U. S. Supreme Court has decreed that certain people, if they are young enough and helpless enough, may be killed.

Another choice which the courts and modern liberality and morality permit us to make is the choice of a tasteful vocabulary. To begin with, the rejects I saw in the plastic bag are not babies, they are not people, they are, if small enough and unrecognizable enough, merely "tissue" or, as ethicist Charles Curran puts it, "the matter involved in the research." If undeniably identifiable, they are but the "products of conception." Well, so is Charles. So am I.

Words most assiduously to be avoided are "kill" and "murder." They were also avoided by the physicians who supervised the "selections" in Nazi concentration camps. Heirs to Europe's proudest medical traditions, they resorted to complicated mental gymnastics to provide moral and scientific legitimacy for Hitler's crazed racial and biological notions. In a world forty years advanced from those barbarities we speak of freedom, of the liberation of women, of the right over our own bodies-- viewing ourselves as emancipated and enlightened while we sink into ever more diabolical (though always finely calculated and carefully rationalized) modes of self-worship and idolatry.

When anyone has the indelicacy to call a spade a spade (i.e., an abortion a murder) he is accused (as in Time, July 30, 1979) of "hateful propaganda, harassment, disregard of other people's civil rights…an attempt to force [his] own perception of morality on everyone else.'' It was Uta Landy, executive director of the National Abortion Federation in New York, who wrote that.

Shall we, like those idealists in Germany, in order to evade the real horror, invoke such forms of self-delusion and insist on innocuous and deceptive terms like "procedure'' or "loss" instead of "killing," or "tissue" for "child"? While we pharisaically deplore Malaysia's management of the pitiful "boat people" (the Home Affairs Minister, Ghazali bin Shafie, said, "The Vietnamese keep throwing rubbish into our gardens''), we rationalize and legalize--we even feel it our duty to facilitate and finance--the disposal of tens of thousands of--what shall we call them if not people?

I could not miss the ironies of The New Yorker's editorializing about Malaysia. Not many months ago it threw up its hands in horror at those who would oppose "the right to choose" abortion. Now it points out that it is the policy of our government to favor human rights around the world, yet "one of earth's peoples is being set adrift on the high seas, and in the whole wide world there is no dependable place of refuge."

Let us who claim to accept moral responsibility for refugees and the world's rejects remember that another of earth's peoples is being "selected," shall we say, for annihilation. We are accused of insensitivity if we mention the black plastic garbage bags or saline burning or the intrauterine dismemberment of gestating human beings, but in the whole wide world is there for them "no dependable place of refuge''?

Let us consider these things in quietness before God who sees them all. "O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me…my frame was not hidden from thee when I was being made in secret…Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them…See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

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« Reply #481 on: March 12, 2007, 02:29:38 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: On Asking God Why
Scripture: Luke 17:33
The Path of Lonliness


How To Sell Yourself - Page 1

A couple of hundred secretaries attended a seminar in Syracuse a few months ago. Because I happened to be in the hotel that day, I did a little eavesdropping.

The speaker was a snappily dressed, fast-talking Yuppie who dished out a lot of expensive advice about how to sell yourself in the business world. By the way you dress, she explained, you can put across a message of power (suits, ladies, not soft sweaters; skirts, not slacks; pumps, not sandals).

The way you wear your hair tells the boss more than your resume did. Hair over the forehead tells him (yes, the lecturer did actually refer to the boss as "him" most of the time) you're shy, coy, or afraid of something; long, loose stuff says you haven't grown up. And you know what fluffed-out hair proclaims the minute you walk into the office: fluffbrain!

What you eat for lunch and how you arrange your desk lets people know who's in charge. No creamed dishes, no desserts; no teddy bears or cutesy mottoes on the desk. Feel good about yourself--slim, trim, lots of vim. Be assertive. Be confident. Walk into the head office in your elegant Joseph A. Bank suit--dark (of course) impeccably (of course) tailored (of course). Stand tall. Head up. Smile. Give him the kind of handshake that lets him know it could have been a knuckle-cruncher--he'll get the message: power. You're in charge.

Beneath the Surface

In Tree of Life magazine Peter Reinhart writes:

The spirit of this age is one of personal power; the spirit of Christ is one of humility. The spirit of this age is one of ambitious accomplishment; the spirit of Christ is one of poverty. The spirit of this age is one of self-determination; the spirit of Christ is one of abandonment to Divine Providence.

He goes on to suggest a new kind of seminar: training in the assertion of virtues--humility, for example, spiritual poverty, purity of heart, chastity of mind. Instead of self-reliance he sees reliance on Christ as the source of empowerment and liberation.

So do I. To be Christ's slave is perfect freedom.

Will this idea sell? Will it work? Can we really get what we want this way? The third question is the crucial one for Christians. Answer it, and you already have the answer to the first two.

If what you want is what the world wants, nobody will be able to sell Reinhart's seminar to you. It isn't going to work.

But if you've made up your mind to have what the world despises--the things that last forever--and if Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, the whole picture, even in the dog-eat-dog world of competition and big money and big success, will be different.

What distinguishes the Christian from others in that world? I admit the validity of some of the Yuppie's advice, silly as it sounds. The medium, alas, is to a certain extent the message. A Christian must he at least as careful, sensible, and serious about doing the job properly as anybody else. He must also dress and act carefully, sensibly, seriously. Man looks on the outward appearance because it's the only thing man can look on. God alone can look on the heart.

What's in the heart reveals itself sooner or later. You may get the job on the basis of first appearance. You'll keep it on the basis of how you perform day by day. Many perform well because they're after money and power--but there's nearly always room for a little fudging here and there, a lot of elbowing and shoving and downright trampling of whoever's in your way, not to mention high-level crimes that people get away with.

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« Reply #482 on: March 12, 2007, 02:30:56 PM »

How To Sell Yourself - Page 2

The Christian in the office or factory or construction job operates from a wholly different motive: "service rendered to Christ himself, not with the idea of currying favor with men, but as the servants of Christ conscientiously doing what you believe to be the will of God for you" (Ephesians 6:5, 6 PHILLIPS).

How High, How Mighty?

I would hope that the Christian businessman or woman, whether lowest on the corporate totem pole or the chief executive officer, would be distinguished from the rest not only by conscientious work but also by graciousness, by simple kindness, by an unassuming manliness or a modest womanliness, and above all by a readiness to serve. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with ambition--Jesus often appealed to it--but the nature of those ambitions makes a huge difference: "He that would be chief among you must be servant of all,'' even if that means serving coffee instead of serving on the committee you were itching to join.

A Christian is the sort of person who can be asked to do whatever needs to be done without retorting, "That's not my job." Somebody is bound to remind me that you can get in trouble with the unions this way. Well, you know what I mean. Christians are available. Christians aren't too high and mighty to do the nasty little task nobody else will do. Christians can be counted on, imposed on, sometimes walked all over. Why not? Their Master was.

I think of my friend Betty Greene, a pilot (called an aviator in her early days) who ferried bombers during World War II and helped found Mission Aviation Fellowship. "I made up my mind," she told me, "that if I was to make it in a man's world, I would have to be a lady." A more ladylike lady I have never known. She knows when to keep her mouth shut. She's modest. She's the very soul of graciousness. She isn't trying to prove anything. Nate Saint, an early colleague of hers, once told me he had had no use for women pilots until he met Betty. She shook up his categories.

Christians ought to be always shaking up people's categories. I guess one of the things the world finds most infuriating about much-maligned Jerry Falwell is his unflappable graciousness, his refusal to retreat behind spurious logic. They'd like to call him a rechecked bigot, but he doesn't fit the category. His worst offense is that he's so often right. He speaks the truth--that's bad enough--and he speaks it in love. That's unforgivable.

"The very spring of our actions," said the apostle Paul, "is the love of Christ.'' That goes for all of us who claim the name Christian. It is the energizing principle of whatever we do--from praying and serving the church to laundry and lawn mowing and the jobs we get paid for. Charity is the word.

Charity? In the late twentieth century? Yes. If in home, school, and workplace the rule of each Christian's life were MY LIFE FOR YOURS ("in honor preferring one another") it would make a very great difference.

The Christian's distinctive mark is love. It was what set the Lord Jesus apart from all others. It was, in the end, what got him crucified. If we follow him in the marketplace, many of the self-promotion methods others use will be out of the question to us.

Won't we run the risks of being ignored, stepped on at times, passed over for a promotion? Yes, those and a good many others. But what price are we willing to pay for obedience? The faithful, unconcerned about self-actualization, will find along the pathway of self-denial the blossoms of fulfillment. We have our Lord's paradoxical promise in Luke 17:33: "Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, and the man who is prepared to lose his life will preserve it.

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« Reply #483 on: March 12, 2007, 02:32:17 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: On Asking God Why
Scripture: Colossians 1:11 Ephesians 3:17-18 Psalm 119:14-14
The Path of Lonliness


The Song of the Animals - Page 1

A very tall man, wrapped in a steamer rug, kneeling alone by a chair. When I think of my father, who died in 1963, this is often the first image that comes to mind. It was the habit of his life to rise early in the morning--usually between 4:30 and 5:00 A.M.--to study his Bible and to pray.

We did not often see him during that solitary hour (he purposed to make it solitary), but we were used to seeing him on his knees. He had family prayers every morning after breakfast. We began with a hymn; then he read from the Bible to us; and we all knelt to pray. As we grew older, we were encouraged to pray alone as well.

Few people know what to do with solitude when it is forced upon them; even fewer arrange for solitude regularly. This is not to suggest that we should neglect meeting with other believers for prayer (Hebrews 10:25), but the foundation of our devotional life is our own private relationship with God.

My father, an honest and humble disciple of the Lord Jesus, wanted to follow his example: "Very early in the morning…Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed" (Mark 1:35).

Christians may (and ought to) pray anytime and anywhere, but we cannot well do without a special time and place to be alone with God. Most of us find that early morning is not an easy time to pray. I wonder if there is an easy time.

The simple fact is that early morning is probably the only time when we can be fairly sure of not being interrupted. Where can we go? Into "your closet," was what the Lord said in Matthew 6:6, meaning any place apart from the eyes and the ears of others. Jesus went to the hills, to the wilderness, to a garden; the apostles to the seashore or to an upper room; Peter to a housetop.

We may need to find a literal closet or a bathroom or a parked car. We may walk outdoors and pray. But we must arrange to pray, to be alone with God sometime every day, to talk to him and to listen to what he wants to say to us.

The Bible is God's message to everybody. We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear his voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes. We must read his Word. We must obey it. We must live it, which means rereading it throughout our lives. I think my father read it more than forty times.

When we have heard God speak, what then shall we say to God? In an emergency or when we suddenly need help, the words come easily: "Oh, God!" or "Lord, help me!" During our quiet time, however, it is a good thing to remember that we are here not to pester God but to adore him.

All creation praises him all the time--the winds, the tides, the oceans, the rivers, move in obedience; the song sparrow and the wonderful burrowing wombat, the molecules in their cells, the stars in their courses, the singing whales and the burning seraphim do without protest or slovenliness exactly what their Maker intended, and thus praise him.

We read that our Heavenly Father actually looks for people who will worship him in spirit and in reality. Imagine! God is looking for worshippers. Will he always have to go to a church to find them, or might there be one here and there in an ordinary house, kneeling alone by a chair, simply adoring him?

How do we adore him? Adoration is not merely unselfish. It doesn't even take into consideration that the self exists. It is utterly consumed with the object adored.

Once in a while, a human face registers adoration. The groom in a wedding may seem to worship the approaching bride, but usually he has a few thoughts for himself--how does he look in this absurd ruffled shirt that she asked him to wear, what should he do with his hands at this moment, what if he messes up the vows?

I have seen adoration more than once on faces in a crowd surrounding a celebrity, but only when they were unaware of the television cameras, and only when there was not the remotest possibility that the celebrity would notice them. For a few seconds, they forgot themselves altogether.

When I stumble out of bed in the morning, put on a robe, and go into my study, words do not spring spontaneously to my lips--other than words like, "Lord, here I am again to talk to you. It's cold. I'm not feeling terribly spiritual...." Who can go on and on like that morning after morning, and who can bear to listen to it day after day?

I need help in order to worship God. Nothing helps me more than the Psalms. Here we find human cries--of praise, adoration, anguish, complaint, petition. There is an immediacy, an authenticity, about those cries. They speak for me to God--that is, they say what I often want to say, but for which I cannot find words.

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« Reply #484 on: March 12, 2007, 02:33:40 PM »

The Song of the Animals - Page 2

Surely the Holy Spirit preserved those Psalms in order that we might have paradigms of prayer and of our individual dealings with God. It is immensely comforting to find that even David, the great king, wailed about his loneliness, his enemies, his pains, his sorrows, and his fears. But then he turned from them to God in paeans of praise.

He found expression for praise far beyond my poor powers, so I use his and am lifted out of myself, up into heights of adoration, even though I'm still the same ordinary woman alone in the same little room.

Another source of assistance for me has been the great hymns of the Church, such as "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven," "New Every Morning Is the Love," "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," and ''O Worship the King." The third stanza of that last one delights me. It must delight God when I sing it to him:

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

That's praise. By putting into words things on earth for which we thank him, we are training ourselves to be ever more aware of such things as we live our lives. It is easy otherwise to be oblivious of the thousand evidences of his care. Have you thought of thanking God for light and air, because in them his care breathes and shines?

Hymns often combine praise and petition, which are appropriate for that time alone with God. The beautiful morning hymn "Awake, My Soul, and With the Sun" has these stanzas:

All praise to Thee, who safe hast kept,
And hast refreshed me while I slept.
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless light partake.
Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say;
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

Adoration should be followed by confession. Sometimes it happens that I can think of nothing that needs confessing. This is usually a sign that I'm not paying attention. I need to read the Bible. If I read it with prayer that the Holy Spirit will open my eyes to this need, I soon remember things done that ought not to have been done and things undone that ought to have been done.

Sometimes I follow confession of sin with confession of faith--that is, with a declaration of what I believe. Any one of the creeds helps here, or these simple words: "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."

Then comes intercession, the hardest work in the world--the giving of one's self, time, strength, energy, and attention to the needs of others in a way that no one but God sees, no one but God will do anything about, and no one but God will ever reward you for.

Do you know what to pray for people whom you haven't heard from in a long time? I don't. So I often use the prayers of the New Testament, so all-encompassing, so directed toward things of true and eternal importance, such as Paul's for the Christians in Ephesus: ''…I pray that you, rooted and founded in love yourselves, may be able to grasp…how wide and long and deep and high is the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:17, 18). Or I use his prayer for the Colossians, "We pray that you will be strengthened from God's boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with joy" (Colossians 1:11). I have included many New Testament prayers in a small booklet entitled And When You Pray (Good News Publishers).

My own devotional life is very far from being Exhibit A of what it should be. I have tried, throughout most of my life, to maintain a quiet time with God, with many lapses and failures. Occasionally, but only occasionally, it is impossible. Our Heavenly Father knows all about those occasions. He understands perfectly why mothers with small children bring them along when they talk to him.

Nearly always it is possible for most of us, with effort and planning and the will to do his will, to set aside time for God alone. I am sure I have lost out spiritually when I have missed that time. And I can say with the psalmist, "I have found more joy along the path of thy instruction than in any kind of wealth" (Psalms 119:14).

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« Reply #485 on: March 13, 2007, 09:03:16 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: On Asking God Why
Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:10 Titus 2:3-5
The Path of Lonliness


We've Come a Long Way--Or Have We?

Nowadays Christian women seem to be operating on the premise that they're perfectly free to do anything they like, including work outside the home. Whether they're young, middle-aged, or old, married or single, with children or without, droves of Christian women are now career-minded.

Isn't that okay? I'm not sure it is. Francis Schaeffer, shortly before he died, said, "Tell me what the world is saying now, and I'll tell you what the Church will be saying seven years from now." Careerism is one of the great cries of the feminist movement, and Christian women seem to be trotting along quite willingly, though perhaps five or seven years behind the secularists, tickled pink that ''we've come a long way, baby.''

Well, we certainly have. But is it in the right direction? Have Christian women's seminars, Christian books (and, dare I suggest it, Christian women's magazines), encouraged us, by the tacit acceptance of notions not carefully examined, to move in a direction which does not lead to freedom at all?

It's interesting to note a growing swell of disillusionment among women of the world. They're beginning to discover that the "fulfillment" they had sought in the business or professional world hasn't proved to be all that fulfilling. For many of them it's more like a sucked-out lemon.

Not long ago on the "Today Show" Jane Pauley hosted a TV special on working women. She's one herself, and I have a hunch she was wondering if other women had any unconfessed misgivings about the joys of a career. Is a career really stimulating? Is it really more "creative" than mothering or homemaking? Is it satisfying? Is it fun? Has it brought the fulfillment it promised? Her show was not a parade of happy faces. Women actually looked straight into the cameras and admitted they'd been had. They were willing to change their whole life-style, make sacrifices, do whatever was necessary, to get out of the work world. Several hard-driving executive types said they were going home to take care of their children. One newspaper columnist described the results of the new forms of child rearing as ''emotional carnage.''

Two psychologists, one from Yale, one from Harvard, have echoed these career women's misgivings, stating that what we are doing to our children now may be the equivalent of "psychological thalidomide.'' It's sobering to me to think that we may be maiming our children by depriving them of normal home life.

"You've got to be kidding," I hear someone say. "You aren't going to tell me that women with children aren't supposed to be working?" I'd be crazy to try to tell anybody that unless I had some authority more convincing than my personal bias. I think I have. It's a clear and simple list of things godly women--all of them--are meant to do, and it's found in Paul's instructions to a young pastor (Titus 2:3-5):

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Might there be a pattern in these verses that we've ignored? I've met women lately who had jumped on the careerism bandwagon but have now discovered the Bible's pattern (more of it can be found in 1 Timothy 5). Realizing that the life-style they've been pursuing doesn't fit the biblical pattern, they are making drastic changes. For some of them the cost has been high, but not too high for the liberation that comes with honest obedience.

I'm one of those older women Paul refers to. If I'm a Christian, I am bound by what Scripture tells me to do (there's no Christianity without obedience). By every means open to me, I am to "teach," that is, to set an example, to be a model for younger women--by reverence; by self-control; by being a loving wife and mother; pure; kind; working at home; respecting the authority of my husband; prayerful; worshipful; hospitable; willing to do humble and dirty jobs; taking "every opportunity of doing good" (1 Timothy 5:10 NEB).

That's a tall order. Who of us is sufficient for these things? None of us, of course, without a large portion of the grace of God every minute of every day. But if we will trust him for that grace, we must be sure our wills are lined up with his and our lives ordered according to his pattern.

There are many "buts" in our minds whenever we face truthfully any of God's clear directives. I am well aware of the thousands of women without men who must find some way to support themselves and their children. The Lord who gave us his pattern also knows intimately every situation: "Your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things." Might he have another way than the one which seems inevitable? Might there be a way to work at home? How serious are we about following him? Whoever is willing to obey will be shown the way.

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« Reply #486 on: March 13, 2007, 09:06:10 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: On Asking God Why
Scripture: Hebrews 2:9 1 John 3:16
The Path of Lonliness


Parable in a Car Wash - Page 1

My eighteen-month-old grandson Walter, his father, and I were out for a drive when his father decided it was time to have the car washed. Those automatic car washes can be a bit scary on the first run-through, even for an adult.

I watched Walter's face as the car was drawn into the dark tunnel. The water suddenly began to roar down over all four sides of the car, and his big blue eyes got bigger--but went immediately from the windows to the face of his father.

He was too small to understand what it was all about, and he'd had no explanation beforehand. What he did know was that Daddy would take care of him. Then the giant brushes began to close in around us, whirling and sloshing and making a tremendous racket. It grew even darker inside the car.

The boy had no way of knowing whether we'd get out of this alive. His eyes darted again from the brushes to the face of his father. I could see he was afraid, but he didn't cry.

Then the rubber wheel came banging down on the windshield, and hot air began to blast us. It must have seemed to the child that this tunnel had no end. What further terrors awaited us? He clung to only one thing; he knew his father. His father had never given him any reason not to trust him, but still....

When the car finally broke out into sunshine, the little boy's face broke into a big smile. Everything was okay; Daddy knew what he was doing after all.

Like Walter, I have been through some dark tunnels. Although they were frightening, in the end I've found my Heavenly Father always knows the way out.

Thirty years ago I was standing beside a shortwave radio in a house on the Atun Yacu, one of the principal headwaters of the Amazon, when I learned that my husband, Jim Elliot, was one of the five missionaries missing. They had gone into the territory of the Auca Indians, a people who had never heard even the name of Jesus Christ. What did I do? I suppose I said out loud, "O Lord!"

And he answered me. Not with an audible voice (I've never heard him speak that way in my life). But God brought to mind an ancient promise from the Book of Isaiah: "I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned....For I am the Lord your God" (Isaiah 43:1, 2).

l am the Lord your God. Think of it! The One who engineered this incredible universe with such exquisite precision that astronomers can predict exactly where and when Halley's comet will appear--this God is my Lord.

Evelyn Underhill said, "If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped."

Can we imagine that God, who is concerned with so many stupendous things, can possibly be concerned about us? We do imagine it. We hope he is. That is why we turn to him in desperation and cry out, as I did, "O Lord!" Where else can we possibly turn when we have come to the end of our resources?

Does God love us? Karl Barth, the great theologian, was once asked if he could condense all the theology he had ever written into one simple sentence.

"Yes," he said. "I can. 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'"

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« Reply #487 on: March 13, 2007, 09:07:30 PM »

Parable in a Car Wash - Page 2

Think about the account of the Crucifixion in Mark 15. Jesus was fastened to a cross. It was a man-made cross, and man-made nails were hammered through his hands--the hands that had formed the galaxies. Wicked men put him up there. Then they flung at him a bold and insolent challenge: "If you're the Son of God, come down! Then we'll believe."

Did he come down? No. He stayed there. He could have summoned an army of angels to rescue him, but he stayed there. Why? Because he loved us with a love that gives everything.

Because of the love of the father for us, he gave his son. Because of the love of the son for his father, he was willing to die, "so that by God's gracious will, in tasting death, he should stand for us all" (Hebrews 2:9).

When I heard Jim was missing, my first response was "O Lord!" God answered by giving me a promise: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you."

Was that enough for me? Was that all I wanted? No, I wanted Jim back alive. I didn't want to go through that deep river, that dark tunnel. Five days later I got another radio message: Jim was dead. All five of the men were dead.

God hadn't worked any magic. He is not a talisman, a magic charm to carry in our pocket and stroke to get whatever we want. He could have sent a rescue squad of angels to save Jim and the others, but he didn't. Why not? Didn't he love us?

Fourteen years later God brought another man into my life. I thought it was a miracle I'd gotten married the first time! Now, once again, I was a wife.

However, Addison Leitch and I had not yet reached our fourth anniversary when we learned he had cancer. O Lord, I thought, another dark tunnel. The medical verdict was grim, but we prayed for healing. We did not know positively what the outcome would be, but like little Walter, we knew our Father. We had to keep turning our eyes from the frightening things to him, knowing him to be utterly faithful.

Whatever dark tunnel we may be called upon to travel through, God has been there. Whatever deep waters seem about to drown us, he has traversed. Faith is not merely "feeling good about God" but a conscious choice, even in the utter absence of feelings or external encouragements, to obey his Word when he says, "Trust Me." This choice has nothing to do with mood but is a deliberate act of laying hold on the character of God whom circumstances never change.

Does he love us? No, no, no is what our circumstances seem to say. We cannot deduce the fact of his unchanging love from the evidence we see around us. Things are a mess. Yet to turn our eyes back to the Cross of Calvary is to see the irrefutable proof that has stood all the tests of the ages: "It is by this that we know what love is: that Christ laid down his life for us" (John 3:16 NEB).

We are all little Walters to God. He knows the necessity of the "car wash," the dark passages of every human life, but he is in the car! The outcome will be most glorious.

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« Reply #488 on: March 13, 2007, 09:09:03 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: On Asking God Why
Scripture:
The Path of Lonliness


Two Marriageable People - Page 1

What Holly thought would be an ordinary Sunday evening turned into an enchanted evening. She met Scott.

"I'd seen him around church a few times, but it's a big church and we had never spoken. During the social hour following the service we got into conversation. He offered to drive me home, and--well, you know the story. He started calling me, we'd talk for hours on the phone. He decided to join the singles group, hung around afterward and we'd talk, and finally he actually asked me out. Sometimes he picked up the tab, but usually I paid my own way. I didn't want to feel obligated to him.

"Once when we had dinner together he prayed,'' Holly confided to me, "thanking God for our friendship and for the fact that the singles group could witness a man and a woman who could be good friends without falling in love."

Without falling in love. Uh-huh. I've heard that story from both men and women, perhaps hundreds of times.

Who did Scott think he was kidding? Had it not crossed his mind that one of them might fall? One of the two always does. Poor Holly had fallen flat. She was in her early twenties and attractive, yet she told me she "had a problem." She did--her heart was on hold.

When one's heart is on hold, you do what Holly did--a lot of praying and crying and hoping for the telephone to ring. Scott kept her hopes up. He invited her to a big family wedding, even to the reception meant only for family and close friends. Surely he must be getting on toward serious. Would he put words to his feelings? Well, almost. He talked about marriage, telling Holly he often dreamed of having a wife and how he hoped to find one. He told her how much he wanted children, offering her his ideas on raising them. The time came when Holly could stand it no longer.

They were eating pizza by the fire in her living room. Scott always accepted her invitations. Once or twice he had brought flowers or a bottle of wine.

Tonight he was enjoying the pizza, chattering away about a game he'd been to. But Holly's mind wasn't on the game.

"Scott," she said hesitantly, "we need to talk about something."

"Yeah?"

"I mean--like, we've been, you know, friends long enough."

The man was startled. He took a huge bite of pizza and said nothing.

''This is really hard for me to say, but, Scott, if you don't have any intentions of, well, a real relationship, I can't spend any more time alone with you. I've felt so comfortable with you. I can be myself, you know? My real self, I mean. I've told you a lot of--well, of my heart. But if it doesn't--if you aren't, you know...." Her voice trailed off.

The silence was thundering. Holly looked at Scott. Scott looked at the fire. After another bite and another gulp he said he couldn't see himself married to her. The truth was, of course, that for months Holly had been seeing herself married to him. To her, a "real relationship" meant engagement, although she didn't use that word. In fact, she told me, she had never voiced any desire whatsoever to be married to him. Hadn't she? Scott might be a little obtuse, but he knew what a "real relationship" had to mean. He thought he was forestalling any such complication by telling Holly about his hopes. Didn't she catch on that she wasn't what he was looking for?

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« Reply #489 on: March 13, 2007, 09:10:30 PM »

Two Marriageable People - Page 2

So here are two marriageable people who would like to be married, though not in both cases to each other. What's wrong? Both the why and the how, it seems to me, are wrong.

Note that Scott took no risks, as far as he knew. Talked to a girl after church, drove her home--pretty innocuous, spur-of-the moment gestures. Nobody would make anything out of that. She was nice and let him talk about what interested him. So he started going to the singles group, talked to a few others, phoned Holly now and then, went to dinner and let her pay her half (didn't want her to "think anything," didn't want to put her down by turning down her offer to pay). Then, because once or twice he thought maybe he caught a little glimmer in her eyes, he put across an important message--in a prayer. She couldn't suspect any nefarious designs here, could she? When he took her to the family wedding she should have known she was just a sister to him.

She didn't. It was quite out of the question for her not to think of marriage. Any smallest sign of a man's interest was a big thing. She tried to deny it, tried to tell herself not to "think anything," but she couldn't refrain.

The man didn't mean to put her heart on hold. How did it happen? Had he wronged her? Was he being dishonest, unfair? What was he supposed to do--take 'em all out, give 'em equal time? He was no Casanova, just an ordinary guy. He meant well. He'd tried to play it cool. The trouble is you can't play it cool with a powder keg.

I wonder if it isn't time for Christian young people to discard the currently accepted methods of mate-finding, which haven't scored higher in marital success than the ancient matchmaker method. I offer the following as humble suggestions for the why and the how of finding a mate. They don't constitute the Law of Sinai, but I ask you to think soberly, even to pray, about them.

You men are the ones on whom God originally laid the burden of responsibility as head, initiator, provider. Why do you want to marry? If Scott had given sufficient thought and prayer to that one, perhaps he would not have been the bull in the china shop of Holly's heart. God ordained marriage. God provided the equipment needed for reproduction. But it is not his plan for every man to marry. How about getting down to business, when you reach the age of responsibility, and specifically asking God whether marriage is, in fact, a part of his plan for you? In order to listen to him without distraction you will need to:

   1. Stop everything--intimacy, dating, any "special relationship."
   2. Be silent before God. Lay your life before him, willing to accept the path he shows you. If you get no answer, do nothing in that direction now. Wait.
   3. If it seems the answer is yes, go to a spiritual mother or father (someone older in the faith than you are, someone with wisdom and common sense who knows how to pray) and ask them to pray with you and for you about a wife. Listen to their counsel. If they know somebody they think suitable, take them seriously.
   4. Study the story of Abraham's servant who was sent to find a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24). He went to the logical place where he might find women. He prayed silently, watched quietly. The story is rich in lessons. Find them.
   5. Keep your eyes open--in your own "garden." You don't have to survey all the roses before you pick the one for your bud vase. When you spot the sort of woman you think you're looking for, watch her from a respectful distance. Much can be learned without conversation, let alone "relationship." Ask about her of others who know her and whom you can trust to keep their mouths shut. Does she give evidence of being a godly woman? A womanly one? Expect God to lead. "Let the one to whom I shall say…Iet her be the one whom thou hast appointed" (Genesis 24:14 RSV).
   6. Proceed with extreme caution, praying over every move. By this I do not mean mumbling prayers while you're charging across the church campus to ask her for a date. I mean giving yourself whatever it takes, whether weeks or years, to take his yoke and learn of him. It is "good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.''
   7. Talk to her in a casual setting. You will be able to discover if she is a woman of serious purpose. Do not mention "relationships," marriage, feelings.
   8. Give yourself time to think. Go back to your spiritual mother or father. (In our family, our own parents were our spiritual parents as well, and they prayed for four specific people to marry four of their children. It happened.)

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« Reply #490 on: March 13, 2007, 09:11:58 PM »

Two Marriageable People - Page 3

I'm not going to outline the chronology of dating. I would only suggest that you start small--a simple lunch somewhere rather than a gala dinner. You pick up the tab. Treat her like a lady, act like a gentleman. (See my book The Mark of a Man for more guidelines.)

If you find yourself falling for a girl who offers you only casual friendship, or worse, the cold shoulder, first get it settled with God that she is the one to pursue. Even if a woman tells a man to "get lost" but he knows in his heart she's the right one, he can still wait and pray for God's timing. I know of many married couples whose courtship began this way.

The time will come when your conversations have revealed, without direct inquiry, whether this woman would be prepared to accept your destiny and your headship; whether she is maternal, a homeworker--in short, whether she is what you've been praying for.

It is a great mistake to put too much stock in physical beauty or in thrills and chills. Neither has anything to do with a sound foundation for a marriage. Remember that the love of 1 Corinthians 13 is action, not a glandular condition. The love that makes a marriage is basically a deep respect and an unselfish kindness. That's pleasant to live with.

Now a few words, and only a few, for you women. I know--oh, how well I know--your position. Because we are women we are made to be responders, not initiators (see Let Me Be a Woman). This means that the burden of responsibility of seeking and wooing a mate does not belong to us. To us belongs the waiting.

This does not mean inactivity. It means first of all a positive, active placing of our trust in him who loves us, does all things well, and promises to crown us with everlasting joy. It means next a continued obedience in whatever God has given us to do today, without allowing our longing to "slay the appetite of our living," as Jim Elliot once wrote to me, long before God gave us the green light to marry. It means just what Paul meant when he wrote from prison to the Philippian Christians, "Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus."

Often the awkward scenario depicted in Holly and Scott's story is more the woman's fault than the man's. That is because women generally allow too many liberties, make themselves too available, and press for explanations when they should remain quiet. It is foolhardy to stick your neck out that way. When your heart is on hold, it's best quietly to decline any further invitations rather than to try to "preserve the friendship." It can't be done. Better to simply back off.

If our supreme goal is to follow Christ, the rule of our lives will be my life for yours. We will be directing our energies far more toward the will of God and the service of others than to our own heart's longings. And that, believe me, is the best possible training course for marriage.

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« Reply #491 on: March 13, 2007, 09:13:07 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Proverbs 11:25 Hosea 14:5 Isaiah 58:10-11
The Path of Lonliness


Refreshment

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Prv 11:25). "If you...satisfy the needs of the wretched...the Lord will satisfy your needs" (Is 58:10,11 NEB).

Do you often feel like parched ground, unable to produce anything worthwhile? I do. When I am in need of refreshment, it isn't easy to think of the needs of others. But I have found that if, instead of praying for my own comfort and satisfaction, I ask the Lord to enable me to give to others, an amazing thing often happens--I find my own needs wonderfully met. Refreshment comes in ways I would never have thought of, both for others, and then, incidentally, for myself.

Lord, be as the dew to me today, as You were to Israel, that I may "flower like the lily" (Hos 14:5 NEB).

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« Reply #492 on: March 13, 2007, 09:14:26 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Romans 10:12
The Path of Lonliness


Rich Enough

This morning I was praying about three very complicated matters for which I have a share of responsibility. I could not see my way through them and realized, as I prayed, that because I could not see a way, I was doubtful that there was a way. My limitations became, in my mind, God's limitations. Then my reading fell on Romans 10, where Paul speaks of the same sort of error (though much more far-reaching than mine)--that of the Jews having supposed that they must find the way of righteousness by themselves, and that Gentiles could not possibly find it. The way is and always has been God's and only God's, open to those who trust Him. For "the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich enough for the need of all who invoke Him" (Rom 10:12 NEB).

"Rich enough!" I had been praying as though my own needs might exhaust God's resources.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring,
For His grace and power are such
None can ever ask too much.
(John Newton)

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« Reply #493 on: March 13, 2007, 09:15:37 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Isaiah 50:7
The Path of Lonliness


God's Help for God's Assignment

Sometimes a task we have begun takes on seemingly crushing size, and we wonder what ever gave us the notion that we could accomplish it. There is no way out, no way around it, and yet we cannot contemplate actually carrying it through. The rearing of children or the writing of a book are illustrations that come to mind. Let us recall that the task is a divinely appointed one, and divine aid is therefore to be expected. Expect it! Ask for it, wait for it, believe that God gives it. Offer to Him the job itself, along with your fears and misgivings about it. He will not fail or be discouraged. Let his courage encourage you. The day will come when the task will be finished. Trust Him for it.

"For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded, therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed" (Is 50:7 AV).

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« Reply #494 on: March 13, 2007, 09:18:17 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Deuteronomy 33:25
The Path of Lonliness


Iron Shoes

When some out-of-the ordinary supply is needed in order for us to accomplish the job given, we can be confident it will be provided. "Shoes of iron" were asked in Moses' blessing for Asher, an impossibly long-lasting provision from God. The old spiritual says, "l got shoes, you got shoes, all God's children got shoes," but not all God's children have iron ones; only those who need them. Our heavenly Father knows exactly what we will require to fulfill his purposes for us. It is wrong--it is, in fact, a sin--for us to worry about where the "shoes" will come from. "Trust me!" God says to us. "I'll give you iron ones if only iron ones can do the job."

I worried this morning about the seeming impossibility of doing everything that needs to be done before Wednesday when we are moving to a new house. Then I remembered that strength according to my day's need is promised in the same verse (Dt 33:25), and any special need--"iron shoes" or whatever--will also be forthcoming.

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