“Wherever you are, be all there,” he said. “Live to the hilt any situation you believe to be the will of God.”
My heart pleaded the same, when he prayed, “Father, make of me a crisis [person]. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”
He didn’t let his pursuit of holiness stop him from befriending those who weren’t like him. He told of this opportunity: “These are the days of exercise over Herb Gundelach and Bill Wilbur. They came last Sunday and were startled by the claims of the resurrection. Both men stirred and responsive. Spent eight hours in their smoke-filled apartments yesterday. Ah, it is a privilege to speak of the honor of Christ while choking on tobacco smoke.”
After hearing his heart’s cry, I started to let my own grasp loosen on things never really mine: “Father, let me be weak that I might lose my clutch on everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me loose the tension of a grasping hand…Rather, open my hand to receive the nail of Calvary – as Christ’s was opened – that I, releasing all, might be released, unleashed from all that binds me here. He thought heaven – yea, equality with God – not a thing to be clutched at…so let me release my grasp.”
Yes, he lived 49 years before me and was killed before my mom was even born. But he, like Abel, through his faith still speaks (Hebrews 11:4).
Last summer, I had the joy of introducing Stella to him through this video. His life story is a little heavy for a then 5-year-old, but it’s one she needs to know. Believing the gospel and following Jesus aren’t easy, contrary to what much of American Christianity portrays.
Living in the ‘land of the free’, we aren’t sure all the ways we can communicate to our kids the historical norm of suffering for His name. We personally don’t experience it, so we can barely lead by example in this area. We know we can do better taking risks for the gospel, though.
Because, as Matt reminds me, we need to be ready to suffer. The expectation of suffering has to be on our radar. No, we shouldn’t seek it out unnecessarily, but we shouldn’t be shocked or frustrated when it happens either.
I Peter 4:12-14: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
Another verse that helps keep Bible perspective before me on this topic is John 12:24: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
Suffering and physical death for His sake bears gospel fruit. God used Jim Elliot’s death to convince me that Jesus is better than life! And I am just one of ‘many seeds’! A tribe of Auca Indians (now called the Waodani) in the jungles of Ecuador are convinced of the message too!
All Jim Elliot quotes taken from, The Journals of Jim Elliot, ed. by Elisabeth Elliot, 1978.