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« Reply #60 on: May 04, 2006, 06:07:08 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Colossians 4:12-13
The Path of Lonliness


Pray Hard, Work Tirelessly

Sometimes we think of these two things as in opposition. The Bible never places them so, but shows how perfectly they harmonize. Prayer is one kind of work, necessary to the proper doing of all other kinds. When we pray, we are in touch with God, expectant, trusting: He is at work. He does what we cannot do. We are to be at work also, doing what we can do.

In Paul's closing remarks to the Christians in Colossae he includes greetings from Epaphras.

He prays hard for you all the time....He works tirelessly for you. (Col 4:12-13 NEB)

As we pray, the Lord frequently shows us what we ourselves can do to cooperate with Him in bringing about the answer. Let us listen as we pray. Then let us go out and work tirelessly.

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« Reply #61 on: May 05, 2006, 10:22:44 PM »

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


Does Prayer Work?

The answer to that depends on one's definition of work. It is necessary to know what a thing is for in order to judge whether it works. It would be senseless, for example, to say that if a screwdriver fails to drive nails into a board it doesn't "work." A screwdriver works very well for driving screws. Often we expect to arrange things according to our whims by praying about them, and when the arrangement fails to materialize we conclude that prayer doesn't work. God wants our willing cooperation in the bringing in of his kingdom. If "Thy kingdom come" is an honest prayer, we will seek to ask for whatever contributes to that end. What, after all is said and done, do you want above all? Is it "Thy will be done"? If so, leave it to Him.

Is it "My will be done"? Don't waste your time and God's by praying. Have it your way.

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« Reply #62 on: May 06, 2006, 10:32:13 PM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Ezekiel 20:3 Psalm 51:10 Ezekiel 20:31
The Path of Lonliness


Why Guidance is Not Given

Sometimes we are perplexed because guidance does not come when we ask for it.

Some of the elders of Israel came to consult the Lord and were sitting with the prophet Ezekiel. The word of the Lord through him was, "As I live, I will not be consulted by you" (Ez 20:3 NEB). Then followed a long account of Israel's deliberate disobedience: idolatry, desecration of the Sabbath, human sacrifice, revolt, rebellion, and trespassing all God's laws.

"You are still defiling yourselves...how can I let you consult me?" (Ez 20:31). Only the pure in heart--those who desire nothing but the will of God--can expect his counsel and guidance.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps 51:10 AV).

To pray that prayer is to accept the obligation to be obedient in all that is known of God's will.

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« Reply #63 on: May 08, 2006, 05:26:35 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: James 5:16 Daniel 9:23
The Path of Lonliness


As Soon As You Begin to Pray

Prayer sets spiritual forces in motion, although the effect is often invisible, perhaps for a long time.

In the first year of the reign of Darius, Daniel was reading and reflecting about the seventy years of Jerusalem's Iying in ruins. He turned to God in "earnest prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes," confessing Israel's sins and beseeching God for forgiveness and restoration. The angel Gabriel came close to him in the hour of evening sacrifice, "flying swiftly."

"As you were beginning your supplications a word went forth" (Dn 9:23 NEB), he said. The answer was already beginning to be processed when the prayer was offered. It took a very long time. Periods of weeks and years for the nation, and times of mourning, solitude, weakness, and fear on Daniel's part were required before the answer could come to pass.

We should take heart from Gabriel's message. Though our prayers seem feeble and sometimes appear to have gone unheard, a word has gone forth. Spiritual agents from the throne room of the King of kings are mobilized against spiritual forces from the headquarters of evil, and there will be ultimate victory.

"Tremendous power is made available through a good man's earnest prayer" (Jas 5:16 JBP).

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« Reply #64 on: May 08, 2006, 05:29:17 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Romans 8:26-27
The Path of Lonliness


Distractions to Prayer

No one who has tried to pray for more than a few seconds at a time would claim that he is never distracted. It is astonishing to note how insistently and immediately irrelevant matters come to mind, noises occur, things to be attended to are remembered, people interrupt, and even physical discomforts or pains bother us which we had not noticed until we tried to pray. These things are, of course, the work of the master saboteur of souls, who knows how to render our spiritual machinery useless, by the loosening of the tiniest screw or the loss of the smallest nut.

Distractions can be useful. They provide constant reminders of our human weakness. We recognize in them how earthbound we are, and then how completely we must depend on the help of the Holy Spirit to pray in and through us. We are shown, by a thousand trivialities, how trivial are our concerns. The very effort to focus, even for a minute, on higher things, is foiled, and we see that prayer--the prerequisite for doing anything for God--cannot be done without Him. We are not, however, left to fend for ourselves.

"The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God" (Romans 8:26-27 JB).

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« Reply #65 on: May 10, 2006, 11:27:13 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet
Scripture: Isaiah 7:2
The Path of Lonliness


Stop Quivering

"The King's heart quivered as the trees in the forest shake before the wind" (ls 7:2 RSV), Isaiah tells us in the story of Syria's occupation of Ephraim. The worst had happened. The thing Ahaz feared had come upon him, and he was terrified. So are we when we seem to have no defense against something. We are at the mercy of an enemy--debt or disease or disaster or doubt--and we wait, quivering in fear, for our final ruin. Then we are reminded of our sure defense, the only absolutely impregnable stronghold--the word of the Lord, and when He speaks ("This plan shall not succeed, it shall never come to pass") as He did to Ahaz, we are safe. No power on earth (or in heaven or hell) can shake the Rock of our salvation. It is on that Rock that we plant our faith and stop quivering.

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« Reply #66 on: May 10, 2006, 11:28:33 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Keep A Quiet Heart
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4
The Path of Lonliness


My Spiritual Mother

Katherine Morgan has been a missionary in Pasto, Colombia, for more than fifty years. She has been a friend of mine for more than forty-three of those years and has done for me what Paul said Onesiphorus did for him: refreshed me often. Katherine's husband died when they had been married only six years, but she carried on their missionary work and reared their four little girls.

To Katherine I owe more than I can ever tell. She more or less booted me to Ecuador. I was a missionary candidate without a field, didn't know quite how to find one, talked to her, and within months found myself in Quito. She had had me in her home many weekends, giving me previews of coming attractions--what not to expect from "supporters," what to expect from them, what to expect from Ecuadorians and from jungle Indians, what to take (a sense of humor, for one thing), what not to take (a sense of smell, a trunkful of inhibitions and Plymouth Brethren prejudices, an inflated idea of my own importance, and the notion that people are longing to hear the gospel).

At times all of us--her daughters were in junior high and high school then--would be nearly rolling on the floor with laughter. One evening we had a hat show. Katherine had come home from a missionary meeting with a shopping bag full of hats that a lady told her the Lord had "laid on my heart to give to the missionaries."

A few years ago she called me from Pennsylvania where she was visiting a daughter. She just wanted to chat while it would still be easy to chat, since she'd be going back to Colombia in a few weeks. Asking about a mutual friend who had been in the hospital, she told me to tell her to jump up and praise the Lord. She mentioned a gift sent to her which had been designated for a retired missionary. "Me--retired! I haven't even thought of retiring." She sent it back.

We talked about "travailing," for people who have fallen away from the Lord. I reminded her of 2 Corinthians 4, the passage about bearing "death in our bodies" in order that life may work in others. Yes, she agreed, that's in the Bible, all right, but she couldn't think of herself in that way--"I'm too cheerful"--even though I happen to know she has suffered many kinds of death for the sake of other people (and has had her own life threatened a number of times, including being stoned and doused with gasoline more than once).

Dear Katherine! "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Hers has been an elixir for me. She's one of those who bring forth fruit in old age--though she'd hit me for suggesting she's anywhere near that category. May God make me like her.

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« Reply #67 on: May 14, 2006, 05:54:41 AM »

Author:  Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Keep A Quiet Heart
Scripture:
The Path of Lonliness


A Call to Older Women

In 1948 when I had been at Prairie Bible Institute (a very stark set of wooden buildings on a very bleak prairie in Alberta) for only a few weeks, I was feeling a bit displaced and lonesome one afternoon when there came a knock on my door. I opened it to find a beautiful rosy-cheeked face framed by white hair. She spoke with a charming Scottish burr.

"You don't know me, but I know you. I've been prraying for you, Betty dearr. I'm Mrs. Cunningham. If everr you'd like a cup of tea and a Scottish scone, just pop down to my little aparrtment."

She told me where she lived and went on to say that my name had been mentioned in a staff meeting (she never said how--was I thought of as a misfit at PBI? I wonder) and the Lord had given her a burden for me. Many were the wintry afternoons when I availed myself of her gracious offer and we sat together in her tiny but very cozy basement apartment while she poured tea for me and I poured my soul out to her. Her radiant face was full of sympathy, love, and understanding as she listened. She would be quiet for a little, then she would pray and, looking up, cheer and strengthen me with words from God. During and after my missionary years she wrote to me until she died. Only God knows what I owe to "the four Katharines"--Katharine Cunningham, Katharine Gillingham Howard (my own mother), Katherine Cumming (my house mother when I was in college), and Katherine Morgan. These and several others have not only shown me what godliness looks like (many have done that), but have significantly graced my life by obeying God's special call to older women.

The apostle Paul tells Titus that older women ought to "school the younger women to be loving wives and mothers, temperate, chaste, and kind, busy at home, respecting the authority of their own husbands" (Titus 2:4-5, NEB). My dear "Mom Cunningham" schooled me--not in a class or seminar, or even primarily by her words. It was what she was that taught me. It was her availability to God when He sent her to my door. It was the surrender of her time, an offering to Him for my sake. It was her readiness to "get involved," to lay down her life for one anxious Bible school girl. Above all, she herself, a simple Scottish woman, was the message.

I think of the vast number of older women today. The Statistical Abstract of the United States for 1980 says that 19.5 percent of the population was between ages 45-65, but by 2000 it will be 22.9 percent. Assuming that half of those people are women, what a pool of energy and power for God they might be. We live longer now than we did forty years ago (the same volume says that the over-sixty-fives will increase from 11.3 percent to 13 percent). There is more mobility, more money around, more leisure, more health and strength--resources which, if put at God's disposal, might bless younger women. But there are also many more ways to spend those resources, so we find it very easy to occupy ourselves selfishly. Where are the women, single or married, willing to hear God's call to spiritual motherhood, taking spiritual daughters under their wings to school them as Mom Cunningham did me? She had no training the world would recognize. She had no thought of such. She simply loved God and was willing to be broken bread and poured-out wine for His sake. Retirement never crossed her mind.

If some of my readers are willing to hear this call but hardly know how to begin, may I suggest to you:

1. Pray about it. Ask God to show you whom, what, how.

2. Consider writing notes to or telephoning some younger woman who needs encouragement in the areas Paul mentioned.

3. Ask a young mother if you may do her ironing, take the children out, babysit so she can go out, make a cake or a casserole for her.

4. Do what Mom C. did for me--invite somebody to tea, find out what she'd like you to pray for (I asked her to pray that God would bring Jim Elliot and me together!)--and pray with her.

5. Start a little prayer group of two or three whom you can cheer and help. You'll be cheered and helped too!

6. Organize a volunteer housecleaning pool to go out every other week or once a month to somebody who needs you.

7. Have a lending library of books of real spiritual food.

8. Be the first of a group in your church to be known as the WOTT's (Women of Titus Two), and see what happens (something will).

"Say not you cannot gladden, elevate, and set free; that you have nothing of the grace of influence; that all you have to give is at the most only common bread and water. Give yourself to your Lord for the service of men with what you have. Cannot He change water into wine? Cannot He make stammering words to be instinct [imbued, filled, charged] with saving power? Cannot He change trembling efforts to help into deeds of strength? Cannot He still, as of old, enable you in all your personal poverty 'to make many rich?' God has need of thee for the service of thy fellow men. He has a work for thee to do. To find out what it is, and then to do it, is at once thy supremist duty and thy highest wisdom. 'Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.'" (Canon George Body, b. 1840).

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« Reply #68 on: May 14, 2006, 05:56:14 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Keep A Quiet Heart
Scripture:
The Path of Lonliness


My Mother

She was Kath to her close friends, Dearie to my father, and always Mother (never Mom) to her six children. She held us on her lap when we were small and rocked us, sang to us, and told us stories. We begged for the ones about "when you were a little girl." Katharine Gillingham was born June 2l, 1899 in Philadelphia. We loved hearing about the butler who did tricks for her behind her parents' backs and about the alarmed postman who rushed to rescue the screaming child with her arm down a dog's throat until he heard what the child was saying: "He's got my peanut! " In 1922 she married Philip E. Howard Jr., a man who, because he had lost an eye in an accident, felt sure no woman would have him. They worked for five years with the Belgian Gospel Mission, then resumed to the States when he became associate editor (later editor) of The Sunday School Times.

Mother's course was finished on February 7, 1987. She was up and dressed as usual in the morning at the Quarryville Presbyterian Home in Pennsylvania, made it to lunch with the help of her walker, lay down afterwards, having remarked rather matter-of-factly to someone that she knew she was dying, and wondered where her husband was. Later in the afternoon cardiac arrest took her, very quietly.

Each of us (in chronological order) took a few minutes at the funeral to speak of some aspect of Mother's character. Phil spoke of her consistency and unfailing availability as a mother; of her love for Dad ("He was always my lover," she said). I recalled how she used to mop her eyes at the table, laughing till she cried at some of my father's bizarre descriptions, or even at his oft-told jokes; how she was obedient to the New Testament pattern of godly womanhood, including hospitality. Dave talked about her unreserved surrender to the Lord, first of herself (at Stony Brook conference in New York and then, painfully, years later at Prairie Bible Institute in Canada) of her children; of how, when we left home, she followed us not only with prayer but, for forty years with hardly a break, with a weekly letter. Ginny told how Mother's example taught her what it means to be a lady; how to discipline herself, her children, her home. Tom remembered the books she read to us (A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Sir Knight of the Splendid Way, for example), and the songs she sang as she rocked each of us little children ("Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Go Tell Aunt Nancy"), shaping our vision of life. Jim pictured her sitting in her small cane rocker in the bay window of her bedroom after the breakfast dishes were done, sitting quietly before the Lord with the Bible, Daily Light, and notebook.

The last three years were sorrowful ones for all of us. Arterio-sclerosis had done its work in her mind and she was confused and lonely ("Why hasn't Dad been to see me?" "He's been with the Lord for 23 years, Mother." "Nobody told me!") Still a lady, she tried to be neatly groomed, always offered a chair to those who came. She had not lost her humor, her almost unbeatable skill at Scrabble, her ability to play the piano, sing hymns, and remember her children. But she wanted us to pray that the Lord would let her go Home, so we did.

The funeral ended with the six of us singing "The Strife is O'er," then all family members, including our beloved aunts Alice and Anne Howard, sang "To God Be the Glory." The graveside service closed with the Doxology (the one with Alleluias). We think of her now, loving us with an even greater love, her poor frail mortality left behind, her eyes beholding the King in His beauty. "If you knew what God knows about death," wrote George MacDonald, "you would clap your listless hands."

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« Reply #69 on: May 14, 2006, 05:57:53 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Love Has A Price Tag
Scripture:
The Path of Lonliness


A Mother's Testament - Page 1

While I was writing a letter at my desk fifteen years ago my small daughter interrupted to say that she had dropped two sucres (Equadorian coins) into the rain barrel, and could she please put on her bathing suit and swim to the bottom to get them? I said she could.

Today she is twenty-one. She is a thousand miles from home and when I called at 6:45 A.M. to wish her a happy birthday I caught her munching a prune and an almond, the prelude to a breakfast of hot cracked wheat cereal, brewer's yeast drink, toast and grapefruit. (She's an even more fanatical food freak than her mother.) She chatted happily about the blue outfit I'd sent her, about the papers she must write before graduation, which is only three weeks away, and about her wedding, which is nine weeks away.

A mother may, I suppose, be forgiven for pausing to remember these twenty-one swift years. When she was born she was a marvel and an object of deep concern to the Indians of the jungle where we lived, for she was put not only in a bed separate from that of her parents, but even in a separate room. Demons, the Indians warned us anxiously, would certainly "lick" her if she was not protected between her father and mother. When we assured them that no demon would bother her at all, they shook their heads in bewilderment: another of the inexplicable differences between themselves and these foreigners. Demons don't like foreign children. But what about vampires? That, we knew, would have been a real danger if we had not lived in a screened house.

She was carried around in an aparinga, an Indian carrying cloth, not only by her mother but by Indian women and girls who asked if they might "borrow" her for a little while. She learned two languages at once and managed to keep them separate in her mind. She played, swam, walked the trails and ate fish heads with the Indian kids. The "slumber parties" she went to were in Indian houses where she took her blanket and curled up on the bamboo slats beside her friends, coming home in the morning to announce that breakfast had been soup. "What kind of soup?" I once asked. "Oh, rat soup, I guess," she said, and she was right.

Because she always went barefoot she had to wash her feet every night before going to bed, a chore she sometimes wished she could get out of. One evening while washing the supper dishes in the river she looked up to see a beautiful sunset. "It looks as though Jesus might come through there," she said to me, "and then I wouldn't even have to wash my feet. Jesus would wash my feet for me--he's kind."

In a small notebook I kept the accounts Val sometimes dictated to me of her doings with the Indians. One fragment from the notebook reads:

"We got to a little pool, a little lake. Uba just got one fish with her hands. With a knife she whacked it. And then we went to get pitumu [palm fruit]. We got chicha [manioc drink] where the little lake was. It was Ipa's chicha. She squeezed it for me into a little leaf, because we didn't have any cups. At home we have cups. I was thirsty. Kumi, Kinta and I drank some. The rest didn't have any because there wasn't any left. Then we got the pitumu and made a basket with some leaves, and then we came home. I saw wild pig and tapir footprints and that's all."

Later: "I took some poison down to the river and watched how Ana fixed it. Then I got some and put it in a little hole in the ground and punched it and punched it and punched it, and when the leaves got soft I put it in the basket and then in the water. Soon I got a little fish, a little fish, and a little fish [this is the Indian way of saying 'three fish']. Their names were kuniwee, niwimu and arakawae. I brought them to Gimari's fire and put them on a little stick that was burning and they got toasted and then I ate them. And that's all."

One evening I overheard Valerie singing to her kitten:

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like you."

Among the questions asked on a single day were, "Why can't we breathe under water?" "Will we go through a rainbow when we go to God's house?" "Owls got kinda paper faces, don't they?" "Can God make the tea stop coming out of the pot?" and "Why do dogs have knees in the back of their legs?"

Hers was a happy life with the Indians, but she dreamed of having a brother or sister. Standing in front of a mirror once she said, "I sometimes think this is my sister, my twin, and I talk to her and she answers me and smiles."

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« Reply #70 on: May 14, 2006, 05:59:27 AM »

A Mother's Testament - Page 2

Perhaps this solitude helped her to understand the solitude of others. She loved taking care of things. In the jungle, making people comfortable meant, among other things, building a fire, and she spent a good deal of time at this. I found her tending two tiny fires underneath our house (which was on stilts), "one for me," she explained, "and one for my little birdie so he won't be cold." She had put the baby woodpecker's basket close by. Another time she was tucking up her small friend Taemaenta (both were about five years old) in her hammock, covering him with a doll blanket and fanning up the fire. When she climbed in beside him I inquired what she was up to. "Just being kind to Taemaenta because his mother is gone," she said. She carried her own dolls around in an aparinga, covering their heads with a rag when the trail led out into the sunshine, protecting them with her hand when she stooped to go under a fallen tree or through a patch of underbrush.

Her education for the first three years was the Calvert School correspondence course, begun under taxing conditions since we had no place to put books and things, living, as we were then, in a wall-less house. It was difficult to concentrate with Indians hanging over her shoulder, peering at the pictures, fingering the books, trying out the crayons, snipping things with the scissors.

The third-grade work included a lesson on mythology. As I was telling the story of Pandora's box I tried to explain the meaning of hope. After giving several other illustrations I asked, "What was my hope when your daddy died?" "Me!" was the immediate reply.

She was indeed. In the bleakest times she was there, a gift of joy, lifting her little face in love, smiling, not knowing anything of the need she met.

She thought much about God and heaven (which was to her not only the Father's house but her daddy's as well). I sometimes wrote down her prayers after I had kissed her goodnight. I did this not because I feared they would otherwise be lost (the great angel with the golden censer will see that they are not lost) but because I knew that they would be lost to me. I would forget. And also because I had no one, at that time, to tell them to.

"Dear Lord, thank you for this sentence: 'There is a green hill far away where the dear, dear Lord Jesus was crucified.' Jesus, you know that we don't understand your words. Just like those people long ago, when you told them you were going to come alive. They didn't understand. We're just like those people. So help us to understand. Help us not to lie and disobey and steal. Let's be sweet. And help me with my arithmetic tomorrow. In Jesus' name. Amen." She was eight years old.

She had seen birth and suffering and death in our life with the Indians, had acquired a "nerve of knowledge" that rendered her sensitive. When I asked if she ever thought about death she said, "Yes, sometimes when I'm washing my feet. You know how the sink is dry, and the water creeps up the sides when I'm filling it? There are little points around the edges of the water, and I think these points are the number of days before I'm going to die, and go to see my daddy. But I don't count them. I splash the water up quickly." With these intimations of mortality she was at the same time full of joy. She told me several times of dreams in which she found herself floating and singing. If she wakened in the night, she often sang. A friend described her walk as "not on but slightly above the ground."

When she was twelve I went into her room one evening to thank her for washing all the dishes when I had guests. "Mommy!" she said as I started to leave. "I want to thank you for my whole life! For all you've given me and for all the things you've done for me and for all the food you've cooked for me!"

To look at the woman who was that child of nine years ago and to realize that I am thanked for what I cooked and did and gave--thanked for doing what I could not possibly have helped wanting with all my heart to do--is to understand in a new light the words of Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." More "blessed"? He must have meant that it is a happier thing to aim at the giving rather than at the receiving, but, strangely, if we put the giving first the receiving necessarily follows. For me, from this child, the receiving seems to have been without interruption. It is not immediately so for all. I know. If we give out of love, however, there is ultimately no way in heaven or earth to avoid receiving, and receiving far more than we could possibly give.

Nine more weeks. Shall we have a multi-media presentation flashed on the walls of the church as she moves down the aisle? Swimming to the bottom of the rain barrel, eating rat soup, drinking chicha from a leaf cup, snuggling with Taemaenta in her hammock, floating and singing? Not a very workable idea. But I shall be remembering, and giving thanks.

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« Reply #71 on: May 14, 2006, 06:01:00 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Love Has A Price Tag
Scripture:
The Path of Lonliness


Five Kids and Peace - Page 1

The house was large, white, set well back from the street, and surrounded with lawns, gardens and beautiful big trees--the sort of place that could easily keep a full-time gardener busy. It was nearly suppertime of an autumn afternoon, and as my hostess, who had met me at the airport, took me through the side door and into the kitchen, I could smell beef stew and wood smoke, just the sort of things I wanted to smell in a place like that. We went through a large hall with a beautiful staircase and into a small sitting room where a fire burned and three boys were sprawled prone on the floor, two of them playing a game, one reading.

"Boys, I want you to meet Mrs. Leitch."

All three were on their feet at once, coming toward me to shake hands. Not only were they not reluctant or surly, they acted as though they were sincerely glad to see me.

After I was shown my room I joined Arlita, my hostess, in the kitchen to help with supper. She set about making biscuits while I cut up apples for Waldorf salad. A few minutes before supper was ready a couple of the boys appeared and in no time had set the table, poured the milk, carried in the food.

The dining room had an elegant fireplace and mantelpiece, a bay window filled with plants, and an enormous round cherry table. Joe, who is a doctor, sat opposite the fireplace with his wife at his side. I sat across from them and between us the four sons and one daughter, ages nine to sixteen. We all clasped hands for grace. Conversation ranged from schoolwork, the church, the neighbors, the old house a few blocks away where I used to live, to mathematics and the meaning of a passage of Scripture. All participated. All also took it upon themselves to see to the comfort of their guest, passing me the biscuits, the jam, the salt, asking if I'd have another bowl of stew, filling my water glass. It seemed that each child understood that he was on the entertainment committee. The fact that I was a contemporary of their parents did not absolve them of gracious responsibility. They were even eager to look after me, eager to hear what I had to say.

The dining room doesn't have an observation window with one-way glass to which I can take certain parents I can think of to observe this model family, seated around the cherry table, alert yet relaxed, disciplined yet hilarious, attentive yet at ease. And of course the family would object very strenuously to anyone's holding them up as a model. Yet they are. All families, in the last analysis, are models--of something. Some of cosmos, that wonderful Greek word which signifies order and arrangement. Some of chaos, its opposite--disorder and confusion.

At the end of the meal everybody sang. I can't remember what gospel songs they sang, but I remember the hearty way they all joined. Then Joe read the Bible. They talked about what it meant. The youngest son was asked first to explain what he thought it was all about and was then challenged, corrected and encouraged by siblings and parents. Joe asked for prayer requests and each child thought of somebody he wanted prayed for--a schoolmate who seemed hungry to know God, a Jewish lady whose husband had died, a kid on drugs. When the prayers were finished Joe and Arlita and I went to the sitting room to talk by the fire. All was quiet. I was dimly aware of movement in the other rooms--the table being cleared, dishes washed. Later I heard a piano and a flute. People were practicing, homework was undoubtedly being done, but all of it without strife, without one interruption to the parents who, so far as I noticed, had issued no instructions to anybody when we got up from the table.

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« Reply #72 on: May 14, 2006, 06:02:33 AM »

Five Kids and Peace - Page 2

Later in the evening I noted the stillness.

"Are the kids in bed?" I asked.

"What time is it?" Arlita said.

10:45.''

"Then they're in bed. Usually we say goodnight to them, but occasionally when we have company they don't come down."

This almost took my breath away. I've visited in a good many homes where the going-to-bed routine takes the better part of the evening, with wheedling, threats, pleas, prolonged negotiations and eventual capitulation. How, I wanted to know, do you do it? Such order, such peace, such fun as everyone seemed to have, and such smooth running of oiled wheels. I grew up in a family where the same things could have been said, but that was another generation, another day. Walking still occurred to people as a possibility if they had to get somewhere, and it was still acceptable simply to sit on the porch some evenings and not go anywhere. So how, in this day and age, did Joe and Arlita do it?

They looked at each other as though the question had not arisen before. Arlita smiled.

"Well . . . " she hesitated, trying to think how they did do it. "I'm sure we did just what you did. We decided how we wanted it to be and then we did it that way. Isn't that right, Joe?"

"That's right. In fact, we decided before the children were born how we wanted things to be. The going-to-bed business, for example. I don't want to hate my kids, and if I had them in my hair all evening, if I had to fight to get them down and fight to get them up again in the morning, I'd hate them. So after they've reached eight or nine years of age we don't tell them when they have to go to bed. We tell them when they have to be at the breakfast table. We give them each an alarm clock, and if they know they have to be washed, dressed, combed, in their right minds and in their places at 7:30, they soon figure out for themselves when to go to bed and when to get up."

It worked. Next morning, which was Saturday, the children were downstairs to do their appointed tasks. At 7:30 we sat down to sausage, fried apples, scrambled eggs, coffee cake, orange juice and coffee. Arlita had not cooked the breakfast, the kids had. They had organized things so that the whole job was done in a quarter of an hour or so. The table was set, the food on it, hot and appetizing, on time.

Does the system ever break down? I wanted to know. There are lapses, Joe and Arlita said, and privileges sometimes have to be withdrawn, but there's a lot of camaraderie in doing the jobs, and everybody likes to see it work. I had never seen a more beautifully ordered home, and neither had I ever seen a better-adjusted, more likable and outgoing bunch of kids. There must be a connection.

A house the size of theirs needs a lot of maintenance. Nobody comes in to cook, clean or garden. The whole family works. A list of special jobs is posted every so often--woodcutting, window washing, floor waxing, the sort of jobs that aren't done every week--and the children sign up for whatever they're willing to tackle. Then each child makes out a three-by-five card for each job and puts down the time he spent at it. The card is then submitted to a parent who inspects the finished task and signs the card if he approves the quality of the work. If he does not sign it, the child does the job over on his own time. Cards are turned in at the end of the month and the children are paid the going rate. With the money he earns, each buys his own clothes, except for the youngest, who puts half his money in the bank against the day when he too must take the responsibility for buying clothes.

"We're all working for each other this way," Joe said, "each taking responsibility as he's able. They're not paid, of course, for daily jobs like bedmaking and tablesetting and dishwashing. But last month we paid for 125 hours of 'special' jobs."

Stravinsky in his Poetics of Music refers to "the anguish into which an unrestricted freedom plunges me." Unrestricted freedom--anguish. Their opposites, discipline and serenity, characterized the home I've described. But it took thought. It took vision. It took courage to lay the burden on the children, strength to support them in it, humility to submit to the rule of life, and an ear tuned to a different drummer from the one the world hears.

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« Reply #73 on: May 15, 2006, 05:35:53 AM »

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Love Has A Price Tag
Scripture: Philippians 2:5-11
The Path of Lonliness


On Motherhood and Profanity - Page 1

"OK now, which one of you clowns put that bag of M 'n' Ms in the grocery cart?" The mother looks harried.

Two boys, maybe five and seven, eye each other and race away toward the gumball machine near the supermarket door. There is an infant strapped to a plastic board on top of the groceries, and a two year old occupying the built-in child seat in the cart. The mother picks up the M 'n' M candy bag and starts toward the aisle to return it. The two year old screams and she relents, throws the bag in with the rest of her purchases, patiently waits her turn at the check-out, fishes five ten-dollar bills from her purse, receives her small change, and pushing the cart with the babies in it, herds the two boys through the rain to the station wagon in the parking lot.

I go with her in my mind's eye. Jump out in the rain. Open the garage door. Drive in. Close door. Babies, boys, bags into the house in how many trips? Phone rings. Answer phone, change baby, wipe muddy tracks from kitchen floor. Feed baby, put groceries away, hide M 'n' Ms, start peeling vegetables, take clothes out of dryer, stop fight between two older children, feed two year old, answer phone again, fold clothes, change baby, get boys to:

1) hang up coats,
2) stop teasing two year old,
3) set table.
Light oven, put baby to bed, stop fight, mop up two year old, put chicken in oven, answer phone, put away clothes, finish peeling vegetables, look peaceful and radiant--husband will be home soon.

I see this implacable succession of exigencies in my mind's eye. They come with being a mother. I also see the dreams she dreams sometimes--write a novel, agents call, reviews come in. TV interviews, autograph parties, promotional traveling, a movie contract--preposterous dreams. Try something a little more realistic. Cool modern office, beautiful clothes, make-up and hairdo that stay done all day. A secretarial job perhaps, nothing spectacular, but it's work that actually produces something that doesn't have to be done over at once. It's work that ends at five o'clock. It means something.

I know how it is. I have a mother. I am a mother. I've produced a mother (my daughter, Valerie, has a two year old and expects another child soon). I watched my own mother cope valiantly and efficiently with a brood of six. ("If one child takes all your time," she used to say, "six can't take any more.") We were--we still are--her life. I understand that. Of all the gifts of my life surely those of being somebody's wife and somebody's mother are among the greatest.

But I watch my daughter and other mothers of her generation and I see they have some strikes against them that we didn't have. They have been told insistently and quite persuasively that motherhood is a drag, that tradition is nonsense, that what people have always regarded as "women's work" is meaningless, that "roles" (a word we never bothered much about until a decade or so ago) are changing, that femininity is a mere matter of social conditioning, that it's time to innovate. If the first-grade readers show a picture of a woman driving a hook-and-ladder and a man doing a nurse's job, see what happens to the conditioning. Abolish the stereotypes and we can abolish the myths of masculinity and femininity.

I hear this sort of claptrap, and young mothers often come to me troubled because they can't answer the arguments logically or theologically. They feel, deep in their bones, that there is something terribly twisted about the whole thing but they can't put their finger on what it is.

I think I know what it is. Profanity. Not swearing. I'm not talking about breaking the Third Commandment. I'm talking about treating as meaningless that which is freighted with meaning. Treating as common that which is hallowed. Regarding as a mere triviality what is really a divine design. Profanity is failure to see the inner mystery.

When women--sometimes well-meaning, earnest, truth seeking ones say "Get out of the house and do something creative, find something meaningful, something with more direct access to reality," it is a dead giveaway that they have missed the deepest definition of creation, of meaning, of reality. And when you start seeing the world as opaque, that is, as an end in itself instead of as transparent, when you ignore the Other World where this one ultimately finds its meaning, of course housekeeping (and any other kind of work if you do it long enough) becomes tedious and empty.

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« Reply #74 on: May 15, 2006, 05:37:32 AM »

On Motherhood and Profanity - Page 2

But what have buying groceries, changing diapers and peeling vegetables got to do with creativity? Aren't those the very things that keep us from it? Isn't it that kind of drudgery that keeps us in bondage? It's insipid and confining, it's what one conspicuous feminist called "a life of idiotic ritual, full of forebodings and failure." To her I would answer ritual, yes. Idiotic, no, not to the Christian--for although we do the same things anybody else does, and we do them over and over in the same way, the ordinary transactions of everyday life are the very means of transfiguration. It is the common stuff of this world which, because of the Word's having been "made flesh," is shot through with meaning, with charity, with the glory of God.

But this is what we so easily forget. Men as well as women have listened to those quasi-rational claims, have failed to see the fatal fallacy, and have capitulated. Words like personhood, liberation, fulfillment and equality have had a convincing ring and we have not questioned their popular definitions or turned on them the searchlight of Scripture or even of our common sense. We have meekly agreed that the kitchen sink is an obstacle instead of an altar, and we have obediently carried on our shoulders the chips these reductionists have told us to carry.

This is what I mean by profanity. We have forgotten the mystery, the dimension of glory. It was Mary herself who showed it to us so plainly. By the offering up of her physical body to become the God-bearer, she transfigured for all mothers, for all time, the meaning of motherhood. She cradled, fed and bathed her baby--who was very God of very God--so that when we cradle, feed and bathe ours we may see beyond that simple task to the God who in love and humility "dwelt among us and we beheld his glory."

Those who focus only on the drabness of the supermarket, or on the onions or the diapers themselves, haven't an inkling of the mystery that is at stake here, the mystery revealed in the birth of that Baby and consummated on the Cross: my life for yours.

The routines of housework and of mothering may be seen as a kind of death, and it is appropriate that they should be, for they offer the chance, day after day, to lay down one's life for others. Then they are no longer routines. By being done with love and offered up to God with praise, they are thereby hallowed as the vessels of the tabernacle were hallowed--not because they were different from other vessels in quality or function, but because they were offered to God. A mother's part in sustaining the life of her children and making it pleasant and comfortable is no triviality. It calls for self-sacrifice and humility, but it is the route, as was the humiliation of Jesus, to glory.

To modern mothers I would say "Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be. For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God's equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as a mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. That is why God has now lifted him so high. . ." (Phil. 2:5-11 Phillips).

It is a spiritual principle as far removed from what the world tells us as heaven is removed from hell: If you are willing to lose your life, you'll find it. It is the principle expressed by John Keble in 1822:

If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

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