I’m a fan of Elisabeth Elliot. Anyone else? Her granddaughter has recently facilitated putting her teachings in a podcast form here. It’s great.
I picked up a book of essays called All That Was Ever Ours. From the backside of the book: The themes of this collection touch on her both her life experiences and the overarching Christian values of overcoming difficulties, taking responsibility, exercising discipline, and the redeeming grace of God which, in spite of trouble, gives us our life, calls us to labor, and grants us our salvation.
Here are a few passages:
“Did I not tell you,” Jesus asked, “that if you believed, you would see the wonder of what God can do?” Here is the clue to the lesson: it is faith he is looking for, a quiet confidence that whatever it is he is up to, it will be a wonderful thing, never mind the timing, never mind whether it is what we have been asking for.
Thomas Carlyle said, “Doubt of any sort cannot be removed except by action.” There is wonderful therapy in getting up and doing something. While you are doing, time passes quickly, Time itself will in some measure heal, and “light arises in the darkness,” slowly, it seems, but certainly. According to a poem, the source of which I have been unable to find… “Do the next thing. Do it immediately. Do it with prayer, do it reliantly, casting all care.” I know it works. I have been hauled out of the Slough of Despond by those four words. And in the doing of whatever comes next, we are shown what to do after that.
As Phillips Brooks prayed, I pray, “O Lord, by all Thy dealings with us, whether of light or darkness, of joy or pain, let us be brought to Thee.” It is he to whom and with whom we travel, and while he is the End of our journey, he is also at every stopping place.
Grace is a marvelous but elusive word. “Unmerited favor” is the definition most of us know. It means self-giving, too, and springs from the person’s own being without condition or consideration of whether the object is observing. Grace may be unnoticed. But there are usually some who will notice. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” wrote St. Paul. And those who are in a desperation of suffering will notice it, will notice even its lightest touch, and will hold it a precious, an incalculably valuable thing.
The promise of Christ was not for Paul alone. “My grace is sufficient for you.” It’s a gift to be accepted. If we refuse it, nothing will be enough and boredom will be the story of our lives.