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Gateway to Joy

Greetings All,

     Today's "thought" is a tribute to an extraordinary woman of God who passed into glory June 15, 2015 - Elisabeth Elliot.

     She taught in many of the foreign missions classes I took at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (1982-1986) where I majored in missions. And as a missionary herself, who endured many hardships, her thoughts were always extremely helpful.
  For some she is best known as "the wife of Jim Elliot" one of the five missionaries martyred on January 8th, 1956, in the jungles of Ecuador (two months after I was born)! They were attempting to contact and reach out to the remote Auca Indians with the Gospel.  Jim's well-known quote which guided his life was: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

     Yet those who know Elisabeth better know that her reputation does not hang on her husbands coattails. She had a significant ministry of her own, doing Bible translation into the Quechua language, and then going into the jungle to live for two years with the very Indians who killed her husband, taking her three year old daughter Valerie with her. It's a ministry chronicled in her book, "The Savage My Kinsman."
     After leaving Ecuador and returning to the States she became a sought after spokesperson for foreign missions.  One of the first books she authored was, "Through Gates of Splendor," the story of the five martyred missionaries. The documentary by the same name had a profound impact on me and fed my desire to be involved in missions.  In my opinion they should both be on the required reading and viewing list for every missionary candidate. The contemporary sequel, "The End of the Spear" is extremely informative and challenging as well.

Elisabeth has written many other books, including the classic biographical work, "A Chance to Die" -- about the great missionary to India, Amy Carmichael -- one of her childhood hero's. Carmichael rescued, and then started a home for young Hindu girls who had been forced into temple prostitution.
     Elliot also wrote Shadow of the AlmightyKeep a Quiet Heart, Passion for Purity, Quest for Love, A Path Through Suffering, Be Still My Soul, These Strange Ashes, Gateway To Joy, and about 20 others!  She is now in the presence of the One she spent her life serving, but her legacy here will continue through the many who heard her speak, and will continue to read her many books. This particular excerpt comes from, "Gateway to Joy."  Enjoy!

One of the "Gateways to Joy" -- COMMIT TO SERVICE 

     "There has been a tendency to think of service to God as necessarily entailing physical hardship and sacrifice. Although this is not really a scriptural idea, it has gained wide acceptance.  It is easy to recall the saints who climbed the steep ascent of heaven through peril. But the Bible also makes mention of Dorcas, whose service to God was the making of coats...
     When I lived in the Auca settlement (deep in the Ecuadorean jungle)... some correspondents envied me, some pitied me. Some admired, some criticized. I could not help asking myself if perhaps I had been mistaken. Was I really obeying God, or had I merely obeyed some misguided impulse, some lust for distinction, some masochistic urge to bury myself in the forsaken place?  There was no way of being sure what was in the murky reaches of my subconscious, but I was sure I had committed myself to God for His service, and I knew no other motivation.
     The opinions of others -- whether they commended or condemned -- could not alter my duty.  But their very diversity caused me to ponder carefully what that duty was...  My duty was one thing, theirs another.  My responsibility lay there, but the responsibility of some of my correspondents (who gazed starry-eyed at my role) lay perhaps in an office, or a kitchen, or the cockpit of an airplane.  The commitment to wholehearted service in obedience to God looks different for everyone. 

     When I was sixteen years old I copied in the back of my Bible a prayer of missionary Betty Scott Stam, whose visit in our home when I was very small (living in Brussels, Belgium, with my missionary parents) had made such a deep impression on me.  Her prayer:
"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Your will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to You, to be Yours forever.  Fill me and seal me with Your Holy Spirit.  Use me as You will, send me where You will, work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever." 
     The cost, for her, was quite literally her life only a few years after she had prayed that prayer.  Betty was martyred in China in 1934." 

       Some of you may have prayed similar prayers -- yet your commitment to service and obedience has looked much different. 
    God is not into making clones. He is putting together a body that is made up of many different parts with many varied gifts. And therefore, what may be obedience for one would be disobedience for another.  The path one is called to trod is not the same path we are all called to follow.  His plan for the ages sends people down a plethora of varied paths - some rough and some much smoother. The key, or the gateway to joy, though, remains the same for all -- commitment at any cost to do His unique will for your life.
       Hopefully we can all pray, with earnest and transparent hearts:
"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Your will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to You, to be Yours forever. Fill me and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. Use me as You will, send me where You will, work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever." 
     Two women prayed the same prayer. One was led to China where she was martyred for the faith.  The other ended up losing her husband, living in the jungles of Ecuador for a time, and then spent her later years speaking, writing, teaching, and doing a weekly broadcast north of Boston, Massachusetts. For others it may be a career, parenthood, fidelity in marriage, service in the local church, a neighborhood outreach, helping at a homeless shelter, Hospice, some support group, or another form of obedient service.  The, "as You will... where You will," is up to God and looks different for all.  Yet the call to commit, or, "give ourselves, our lives, and our all, utterly to God, to be His forever" -- that is the same for every believer. Offer Him that and you will find your place in His plan.
With Prayers for a Surrendered Heart, Pastor Jeff