Monday, December 14, 2009

The Wisdom of Elliot

“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”

This quote from Jim Elliot has been a wonderful encouragement to Dan and me in our relationship. It’s easy to imagine the “what ifs” when 100 miles and two hours separate us. But dwelling in them forces us to lose out on the beauty of the here and now, the excitement and uniqueness of the moment we are in. God has blessed us mightily and to diminish that is to say that what God has given is not good enough when, in fact, it is more wonderful than anything we could have imagined.

So while I may continue to ponder the “what ifs”, I must not give them ground to affect my attitude or thankfulness for where I find myself now. I have received wonderful advice and encouragement from a young married friend of mine who has inspired me to treasure the situation I find myself in as it is one I will never have the pleasure of being in again. A wise young woman indeed! ;)

I am eagerly anticipating next weekend when I will get the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with the man I love. But many things lay between now and Thursday and many of them MUST be accomplished before then (like wrapping his gifts). Even as I revel in the anticipation of a wonderful weekend, I know that the here and now still remains so I will take each day as it comes, grateful that God only brings one at a time.

I encourage you now, as I have been encouraged, to treasure the moments you have now and lay aside the worries of tomorrow, for today has enough worries of its own. (See Matthew 6:34)

Soli Deo Gloria,

Below are two examples of the above quote in context. The first is two paragraphs from the letter that Jim Elliot wrote to Elisabeth and the second is her reflection on it sometime later.

"Your ’sense of loss’ at our not being able to share things these past few months is not new to me. I know it, and often tell Him about it. And such thoughts as ‘If thy dear home be fuller, Lord…’ are a consolation. And then the realistic facing of non-accomplishment comes to me and crushes to silence all telling. For if, really, we have denied ourselves to and from each other for His sake, then should we not expect to see about us the profit of such denial? And this I look vainly for. It comes to this: I am a single man for the kingdom’s sake, its more rapid advance, its more potent realization in my own life. But where is that advance and that realization? I am willing that ‘my house on earth be emptier,’ but not unless ‘His house be fuller.’ And I think it right that we hold God to his bargain. I err, of course, in making visible results of our separation the final test, and, in truth, rejoice in seeing beyond results which are obvious. But I reason thus that I should be more importunate in prayer, more dogged in devotion, and should not get, as you say, to a ‘weary acceptance of things as they are.’

Besides this, there is the somewhat philosophical realization that actually I have lost nothing. We may imagine what it would be like to share a given event and feel loss at having to experience it alone. But let us not forget-that loss is imagined, not real. I imagine peaks of enjoyment when I think of doing things together, but let not the hoping for it dull the doing of it alone. What is, is actual - what might be simply is not, and I must not therefore query God as thought He robbed me - of things that are not. Further, the things that are, belong to us, and they are good, God given, and enriched. Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living. It is true that our youth is fast fleeting, and I know the rush of wants, the perfect fury of desire which such a thought summons. All that it involves - this getting on to thirty - brings a push of hurry and a surge of "possible" regrets over the soul. And, Betty, this is just exactly what we have bargained for. Obedience involves for us, not physical suffering, perhaps, nor social ostracism as it has for some, but this warring with worries and regrets, this bringing into captivity our thoughts. We have planted (in our integrity) the banner of our trust in God. The consequences are His responsibility." ~Jim Elliot, in a letter to Elisabeth

“…all of these were things I myself longed to do, and longed desperately to do with him. ‘Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living,’ he wrote to me, and those words have helped me very often since. We accept and thank God for what is given, not allowing the not-given to spoil it.” ~Elisabeth Elliot, “Let Me Be a Woman”

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