Yesterday, Elisabeth Elliot went Home.  I never met her, yet her death leaves me with a sense of loss.  I can’t think of any other author who has affected me and shaped me as much as Elisabeth Elliot.  Before there was a “Jinny” or “Mama Esther” or any other spiritual mother in my life, she (via her writings, many books, and radio transcripts) taught me how to be a woman and live and rejoice and suffer well in His “everlasting arms.”

I wondered where she was or what she was doing the past decade of her life since she ended her radio show and newsletters … and it turns out she had dementia.  Even as she began to lose her mental faculties and other abilities, her husband said in so many words, she put her trust in God.

My human hero was laid to rest yesterday, but my Savior still lives.  Thank God for earthly heroes and spiritual “giants” … but they, too, pass away.  I will see her some Day, but the luster of Elisabeth Elliot’s life was not Elisabeth Elliot.  It was Christ in Elisabeth Elliot.

Thank you for shining Jesus, Elisabeth.  The beauty we saw was Him in you.

Oh to live like you did.


Last part of the 30 day challenge series

10 things?  I can’t think of 10 things.  I can only think of a hundred (which will probably end up sounding incredibly cheesy and morbid) or just one.  So I’ll stick with the one, the same one John Newton declared toward the end of his life:

That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.

That’ll suffice. ♥

I imagine the end of my life looking kind of like this.  Bruised, disheveled, like one who just came out of a fight (the good fight, I hope).  Except I’ll be happy.  And not in trouble. :]  By God’s grace.

Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me.

(Psalm 139:7-10)

Even there.  Wherever “there” may be.

Her Father: What is the matter, child?

Her: Oh Abba, I’m so afraid.

Her Father: Afraid of what, child?

Her: Afraid the worst could happen.

Her Father: And what is that?

Her: That — well — oh — I can’t say it!  But You know all things, Abba.  You know my thoughts.  Surely, You know.

Her Father: Yes, child.  I know.

But your fear is misplaced.  That fear isn’t the worst that could happen.

Her, eyes widening: No?  What could possibly be worse?

Her Father: Dear child, you could disobey Me.

You could fail to trust Me.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …”
(Psalm 23:6a)

Just as when great princes go abroad they must not go unattended, so it is with the believer.  Goodness and mercy follow him always — the black days as well as the bright days, the days of fasting as well as the days of feasting, the dreary days of winter as well as the bright days of summer.
(C.H. Spurgeon)

The past couple weeks were stressful.  I couldn’t escape heart anguish and fears even in sleep, as I’d have recurring nightmares of being hunted, kidnapped, attacked.  But not only me; loved ones, too.  In sleep and in life, I felt the relentless pursuit of evil, her quivers full of bitter suffering.  And keeping in stride with her, condemnation.  Some days, I wished I could die to stop running.  To escape them.

But the psalmist — not my feelings — is right.  He is right. Circumstances haven’t changed, but every time I fall in weakness and expect to be overtaken by evil and condemnation, I turn around and find that goodness and mercy have overtaken me instead.  God’s goodness instead of man’s evils and the sufferings they produce.  God’s mercy instead of condemnation for my sin.  And the other way around, too.  God’s goodness instead of the evil still residing within me.  God’s mercy instead of justice toward those who embrace Jesus.

To be sure, I haven’t seen the fulfillment of all these things in my present circumstances; but His moment-to-moment grace and encouragements whisper of His commitment to His promises.  Sometimes, they even shout.  Timely phone calls.  Heartening words from a friend.  Scripture coming to mind at just the right moment.  Faithful prayers.  Hearing another pleading with God for those I love.  Exhortations.  Supernatural strength to persevere when I’m spent (could only come from Him).

And tonight, for a change, I can’t sleep for marveling at His goodness toward me.  I’m overwhelmed.  If my roommates weren’t sleeping, I think I’d pound away on my out-of-tune guitar and sing, “Hallelujah, goodness and mercy at my heels!  God is good, God is good!”

But maybe it’s a good thing they’re sleeping.  Maybe He hears the song anyway.  Maybe I should go to sleep now.

God is good.

Hymn: There Is a Hope.

December 10, 2010

Some things aren’t worth skim-reading.  Recently discovered this hymn by Stuart Townend and Mark Edwards.  It’s well worth a slow, meditative, prayerful read.  Today in particular, every word of it read like a balm — for struggles with a flailing, thrashing flesh; for daily wear-and-tear; for lack of a quiet and gentle response within.  But there is a hope.  One that is outside of me (in Christ alone) and yet within me (Christ in me).

Praise.  God.

There is a hope that burns within my heart, that gives me strength for ev’ry passing day; a glimpse of glory now revealed in meager part, yet drives all doubt away: I stand in Christ, with sins forgiv’n; and Christ in me, the hope of heav’n! My highest calling and my deepest joy, to make His will my home.

There is a hope that lifts my weary head, a consolation strong against despair; that when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit, I find the Savior there! Through present sufferings, future’s fear, He whispers, “Courage!” in my ear; for I am safe in everlasting arms, and they will lead me home.

There is a hope that stands the test of time, that lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave, to see the matchless beauty of a day divine when I behold His face! When sufferings cease and sorrows die, and every longing satisfied, then joy unspeakable will flood my soul, for I am truly home.

(Townend and Edwards, 2007)

Lit(tle) boy.

December 4, 2010

Inspired by a true story that took place in Illinois.

He was just two, battling against an invisible foe whose name he couldn’t pronounce.  Leukemia.

And one day, the Captain said to him, “Soon it’ll be time to put down your sword, little one.”  His parents, battling beside him, heard the word and bowed their heads.  Hearts slain — who can adequately describe it? — but still.

They held him near as the news settled in their hearts.  How soon?  They weren’t sure.  Weeks, maybe.  But they held him near, tucking away the memory of his frame, his smile, his scent.  And as they did, an idea began to emerge, perhaps an idea given by the Giver of every good gift.  He’s got to have one last Christmas. But it was only October.

Papa climbed the attic and blew dust off of a box.  Train set. And another. Tree ornaments. And another.  Christmas lights. “Yes,” he thought, as he looked at the lights.  “He’ll love it.”

Strains of Dora the Explorer music and the little boy’s laughter came from the family room.

The timer sounded in the kitchen, and Mama opened the warm oven.  Cinnamon, ginger, sugar, butter. Now it smelled like Christmas, too. She glanced at the calendar.  Next week it’d already be November.

“A little early to be putting up Christmas decorations, isn’t it?” Neighbor asked with a chuckle.

Papa’s eyes stung from little pools that suddenly collected in their corners, but he smiled and gave a tug at the line of lights.  “My boy’s gotta have one last Christmas.”

Next day, when Papa came out to grab the morning paper, he gave a soft cry.  Neighbor’s home was decorated, too.  Early.  For Christmas.

Day after that, when he came out again for the morning news, Papa gave another cry.  Mama and the little boy came out to see, too.  The whole street was decorated.  Early.  For Christmas.

Over the next few weeks, as the angels watched from above, one house at a time in that town was decorated — like a line of Christmas lights, lit and tugged through town as each heart was tugged.

And each evening, Mama, Papa, and the little boy went to see the Christmas decorations.  Candy canes in lawns, reindeer on rooftops, lights.  So many beautiful lights.  And so much love for the little boy.  For Mama and Papa, too.

As November progressed, the sun set earlier and the nights grew longer.  But more and more Christmas lights appeared across town, across the city, across the nation.  It tugged at Mama and Papa’s hearts to see them.  As for the little boy, he didn’t think it strange at all; because as far as he was concerned, it was Christmas.

Christmas came and went that year.  And so did the little boy.  He went, but not until he shed light on a whole town, and many towns beyond that town.  (Not unlike another Little Boy who once came.)

And when he went, he went to meet the One who came to bring life.  And light.  To a world of setting suns and long nights.

True, lasting light.

(Read the actual story about the little boy Dax Locke here, here, here, here, and here.  The true copyright of this Story, though, is held by the Father of lights.)