It never fails: when I read the opening chapters (so short they are hardly chapters) of E. Elliot's book, I find nuggets of gold. Useful years ago, and useful now.
She asks me, "Have you ever put heart and soul into something, prayed over it, worked at it with a good heart because you believed it to be what God wanted, and finally seen it 'run aground?'"
Yes, Elisabeth. I've poured myself into this school for 3 years. Why did it end this way?
"Heaven is not here, it's THERE. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one ...."
I'm too easily settled in here, trying to form a little Eden about me.
And I know that some of you reading this have much bigger ships "running aground" in your lives right now - huge, life-shattering disappointments. Mine seems small to yours.
Mrs. Elliot's next "chapter" tells about a woman she met who suffered with a huge disability: she was born without legs. This passage caught my eye today:
"What we judge to be 'tragic -- the most dreaded thing that could happen,' I expect we'll one day see as the awesome reason for the beauty and uniqueness of our life and our family."
Oh my. I look at our precious family, how we have dragged these kids around. A student told me last Friday that, if his parents told him he had to move away from our town, his life would fall apart. He was trying to imagine what our kids are feeling -- but he has lived here all his life. His security is in a place. Our children's security is in other things: the family unit, our faith, the church. Yet . . . we do feel dysfunctional to me sometimes. Why can't we stay in one place, even when we WANT to, and we PLAN to, and we say that we will NOT move again? It just doesn't seem to work for us! Is it true that this uprootedness could someday be seen as a positive thing, the thing that sets us apart and makes us wonderful, unique?
She talks about the witness of Christians who are publicly suffering with great trials: "As the world watches, these people persevere. They live, love, trust and obey Him. Eventually the world is forced to say, 'How great their God must be to inspire this kind of loyalty.'"
I wrote this note to myself at the end of this chapter: "What is your biggest personal disappointment, tragedy, inadequacy? Do you fight it as an enemy? ONLY SIN IS AN ENEMY."
I need to fight the sin within me, and allow God to use the seeming tragedies and disappointments.