My friend, Jenny, raves about the writings of Elisabeth Elliot (widowed missionary to the Auca Indians in the late 50's). A few months back I was in Half-Price Books and, remembering Jenny's recommendations, purchased an Elisabeth Elliot book, Keep a Quiet Heart. This book is a collection of the articles printed in a monthly newsletter sent out by Elisabeth Elliot over the course of about 20 years. Each entry takes up about 1-3 pages in the book and each contains its own title. I've had a hard time putting it down. Because the thoughts are in small snippets I easily read through one 3-page section, then I glance at the title of the next section and I think, "Oh, that sounds good. I have to read that too." I am thoroughly enjoying it.
Here's one of the reflections from Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart for your consideration:
One day recently something lit a fuse of anger in someone who then burned me with hot words. I felt sure I didn't deserve this response, but when I ran to God about it, He reminded me of part of a prayer I'd been using lately: "Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all."
Where could that kind of peace come from? Only from God, who gives "not as the world gives."
His will that I should be burned? Here we must tread softly. His will governs all. In a wrong-filled world we suffer (and cause) many a wrong. God is there to heal and comfort and forgive. He who brought blessing to many of the sin of the jealous brothers against Joseph means this hurt for my ultimate blessing and, I think for an increase of love between me and the one who hurt me. Love is very patient, very kind. Love never seeks its own. Love looks to God for his grace to help.
"It was not you who sent me here but God," Joseph said to his brothers. "You meant to do me harm; but God meant to bring good out of it" (Genesis 45:8, 5:20, NEB).
There is a philosophy of secular education which holds that the student ought to be allowed to assemble his own curriculum according to his preferences. Few students have a strong basis for making these choices, not knowing how little they know. Ideas of what they need to learn are not only greatly limited but greatly distorted. What they need is help--from those who know more than they do.
Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. His wisdom is perfect, His knowledge embraces not only all worlds but the individual hearts and minds of each of his loved children. With intimate understanding of our deepest needs and individual capacities, He chooses our curriculum. We need only ask, "Give us this day our daily bread, our daily lessons, our homework." An angry retort from someone may be just the occasion we need in which to learn not only longsuffering and forgiveness, but meekness and gentleness, fruits not born in us but born only by the Spirit. As Amy Carmichael wrote, "A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred" (From her book If published by Christian Literature Crusade).
God's curriculum for all who sincerely want to know Him and His will will always include lessons we wish we could skip. But the more we apply ourselves, the more honestly we can say what the psalmist said: "I, thy servant, will study thy statutes./Thy instruction is my continual delight;/I turn to it for counsel./I will run the course set out in thy commandments,/for they gladden my heart" (Psalm 119:23, 24, 32, NEB).
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