The next chapter in our study on Relationships is titled "Time and Money" but I could not let the time pass without writing about the passing of my spiritual mentor Elisabeth Elliot. She passed away on June 15th of this year and had been suffering from dementia. I have read many articles describing her passing "through gates of splendor" a clever spin on the title of one of her most popular books.
She has written many books though. Many of them dealing with the topic of suffering and discipline.
When I was a new believer I would hungrily cling to every word she uttered from her Gateway to Joy program and I read every book I could get my hands on. I once organized a ladies bible study group to hear her speak at a church in Alabama. As the ladies sat chatting while she approached the pulpit I shushed them, and as they continued to giggle and talk among themselves I moved away from them so that I could soak in every word she spoke.
Afterwards, my middle daughter and I were able to take a photograph with her and speak to her for a few minutes. I wrote to her a few times and she wrote back. I tucked those treasures away in my very first bible I had received from my sister (the one who passed away from brain cancer) it was marked up and tear stained and the binding was coming apart but I couldn't part with it, so I saved it. Katrina got rid of it for me, along with those notes from Elisabeth and the picture of my daughter and I kneeling at her feet.
I loved that picture because it represented to me how the younger women learn from the older.
Her life was a constant arrow pointing others toward the Father. After she spoke that day in Alabama to thundering applause, her diminutive frame approached the pulpit, looked out at the women seated there and she simply pointed heavenward. All praise and honor was being directed to Him.
She always reminded us at the close of every single broadcast that we, YOU and I were loved with an EVERLASTING love and that underneath that were the EVERLASTING arms.
Always we would be loved and should we stumble? Those arms are right there....
She reminded me often that sadness was a part of this life. Suffering is a part of life. Christ himself learned obedience through suffering. One of the hymns she often quoted was Trust and Obey..."what a glory He sheds on our way..."
Recently I saw Disney's new Pixar film Inside Out with my daughters
and the film depicts what is happening inside our heads. or specifically the head of a young girl named Riley. There are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger vying to control Riley. Joy thinks it has been a good day if all of Riley's experiences have been joy filled, or happy ones, but by the movies end she realizes that Sadness has a place in Riley's life.
I read once that all of creation will tell of the Father, and without actually intending to speak biblical truth, Disney spoke the truth, in that suffering/sadness is essential to this life He has planned for each of us. Even Christ learned obedience by/through the things He suffered, why do WE think our lives should be suffering free?
I have been posting thirty days of devotions on my Facebook page from Streams in the Desert and the Devotion from June 15th said this:
"Perhaps you are going through some trial as God's child, and you are saying to Him, "O God, it's raining very hard on me tonight, and this test seems beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are pouring in, washing away and utterly defeating my chosen plans. My trembling heart is grieved and cowering at the intensity of my suffering. Surely the rains of affliction are beating down upon my soul." Dear friend, you are completely mistaken. God is not raining mere rain upon you--He is raining BLESSINGS. If only you will believe your Father's Word, you will realize that springing up beneath this pounding rain are spiritual flowers. They are more fragrant and more beautiful that those that ever grew in your storm-less and suffering-free life...it is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Holy Spiri. They bring to your life spiritual enrichment that all the prosperity and ease of this world could never produce in your innmost being." J.M.M.
If you don't know who Elisabeth Elliot is, read her books, visit her website click around and listen to her old radio broadcasts. YOU will be blessed.
And for her I will close with this: Remember that YOU are loved with an EVERLASTING love and underneath? The EVERLASTING arms...