Monday, September 12, 2011


Goodness! I apologize for not posting. I fully anticipated slapping something interesting up here today, and it never happened. I did a little homeschooling, and a little volunteering, a bit of cooking, a visit to Peter's teachers at the high school, and then watched an episode of Lark Rise, and now it's time to get into my jammies and think about bedtime.
We watched this Christmas episode last week.
Tomorrow I'm supposed to give a devotional to some ladies at a meeting. I've been ruminating on a portion of Elisabeth Elliot's book, Discipline: The Glad Surrender. I benefited so much from reading the book that I've started it again, immediately. I don't want to let a bit of it slip away, forgotten. One chapter particularly gripped my mind, and I read a portion of it over and over, about six times. It's from the chapter "The Discipline of Feelings." This is what I plan to share with my friends tomorrow. I think I'll give you some of Mrs. Elliot's thoughts:

"I'm just not sure how to work this out comfortably." A young person said these words to Mrs. Elliot. She reminds us that humans have always wanted to work things out for our own comfort. But, "feelings, like thoughts, must be brought into captivity .... The weakness of much popular religion is due to having gotten one of the basic tenets of our faith backwards, making it 'God's chief end is to glory man.'" Mrs. Elliot brings up Daniel as our example. He had a will of steel, a resolve. "A resolve is not a mood .... It has nothing to do with feeling comfortable. It is a decision of the will, carried out without regard to the emotions." She says of Daniel that he "[does] not wait for desire before performing a virtuous deed, since reason and understanding are sufficient." One's emotions don't have to be consulted on the matter.

The emotional devastation and damage to Daniel was significant, after his sacrifices. He was dismayed, troubled, pale, terrified, weak, and sick. He was also greatly beloved by God. In Scripture, perhaps only Jesus is a better example of setting feelings aside, submitting his will, resolving to act righteously -- even if it doesn't feel good.
Elisabeth Elliot
Elliot discusses her friend, Katherine Morgan, who wrote to her: "Feelings are untrustworthy. Human thinking is also untrustworthy, but faith which wings our thoughts heavenward is productive ...." Morgan reminds Elliot of how they acted after losing their husbands. "We had received our orders, and we had to stick by them and carry our feelings in our pockets." Speaking of her work for Christ, "I 'felt' everything but the desire to stay here and work. Nevertheless God's plan has to be carried out. This is a hard lesson ... but one must have the conviction that God has spoken and then one must get busy and carry out the command."

What discipline this is! To set aside the nagging suspicion in one's gut that life is not right, that it will never "feel" right again, that only discipline -- and its resulting joy in obedience -- is one's call! Mrs. Elliot and her friend are giants in the spiritual world.

Elliot continues, "I am sure that Katherine Morgan values privacy and quietness as much as I do. They are among the many things she has blithely ("gladly") given up. I say blithely because she never talks about it as a sacrifice, never makes anything of it, does it quite as a matter of course, day in and day out, year after strenuous year. She doesn't bother to consult her feelings in the matter."

Does that sound like the kind of Christian life you want?

If it's not, are you worthy of the call of Christ?

"The modern mind easily confuses emotions and facts. If it feels good, do it! What is good, it is generally assumed, ought to make us feel good. For example, if it is the will of God, we will feel good about it." Oh my, isn't this true! How many times have you heard a Christian friend say something like this: "I just don't feel good about it. It must not be the Spirit's leading. I know if God wanted me to do this, I'd feel better about it." Since when are our emotions a litmus test for God's will?

Elliot again: "There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that truly holy people are those without feelings, The very opposite is true." Jesus is her example. "He was in anguish of soul ... yet He pursued His course."

"Are we to be mere victims of our feelings, like boats adrift without sail or rudder or anchor? Are we really at their mercy? If it feels good, we do it; if it doesn't, we don't -- is that how the disciple is meant to live? Is that discipline?"

That's not the end of the chapter, but I've gone on long enough. If you desire to know more about how a Christian ought to discipline his life in all its aspects, a discipline of spirit that makes one more pleasing to God and more useful in His kingdom, this is a welcome book.

One last word: Elliot makes the point that disciplining the emotions does NOT mean getting rid of them. "If we are talking about disciplining a racehorse or a child, we are not talking about getting rid of either, but rather bringing them under control."

Discipline: The Glad Surrender -- a good book!

Elliot, Elisabeth. Discipline: The Glad Surrender.  Baker, Grand Rapids: 1982. 138-147.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff. I'm very fond of EE's books and her wisdom. Thanks for sharing this with us.



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