Revive Our Hearts Podcast

— Audio Player —

Is It Worth It?

Leslie Basham: Once we come to know Jesus, shouldn’t life be easy and comfortable all the time? Elisabeth Elliot says: not according to the Bible!

Elisabeth Elliot: You need endurance if you are to do God’s will and attain what He has promised. You need endurance! Do you feel comfortable with that word? I don’t!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender: The Heart God Controls, for June 6, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: For most families in this country, the school year is finally over. Students have persevered; they’ve endured. . .they’ve made it to their goal. Summer vacation, right!?

On today’s program, we’re taking a closer look at another kind of endurance . . . a lifelong perseverance . . . sticking it out to the end. To do that, we’re going back to a classic message from the late Elisabeth Elliot.

If you’ve listened to Revive Our Hearts from our launch in 2001, you remember that Revive Our Hearts is the successor program to Elisabeth Elliot’s Gateway to Joy. Over the years, many of our listeners have expressed to me how deeply grateful they are for Elisabeth’s ministry, not only through Gateway to Joy, but also through her many books.

One of the themes Elisabeth talked a lot about was suffering. Yesterday we heard a great example of that. She understood suffering and perseverance in ways that few of us ever will. That theme of endurance—even when things are hard—was something she talked about when she challenged a stadium full of college students in 1983.

Here’s Elisabeth Elliot speaking at a nationwide gathering called KC ’83.

Elisabeth: [applause welcomes her as she speaks] Thank you so much. A few generations ago, a young Scottish athlete was put to the test. “An athlete put to the test?” you say, “So what else is new? Happens all the time! It’s the only way to become an athlete: training, coaching, endurance, tests.”

The one I’m talking about was put to a test, not by his coach, but by his God. With every chance of winning a gold medal, this man went to France to run in the Olympics. The test came the minute he got off the boat. Somebody told him his race was to be run on Sunday.

You know who I’m talking about—Eric Liddell (I heard somebody say that), the man in the film, Chariots of Fire. Liddell was a Scottish Presbyterian. Running a race on Sunday was to him unthinkable!

Do you remember what happens next in the film? Does he “get in touch with his feelings?” Do you find him sharing his hang-ups with thirty-eight of his closest friends? You don’t see any of that. The decision is already made. The decision has been made years before!. . .as a matter of fact, when he made up his mind to follow Jesus Christ in obedience.

Jesus was Lord of Eric Liddell’s life. That settled a whole lot of things before they even came up. One of the most moving scenes in the movie was the one in which the President of the Olympic Games and the Prince of Wales tried to persuade him that he has made a foolish choice. One of them suggests that it is arrogance to put his personal convictions above the glory of the British Empire.

With perfect courtesy and perfect resolution, in a quiet voice, Liddell answers that the arrogance lies in the man that would seek to persuade another to act against his conscience. Liddell was a man who knew what really mattered: the price that gold medal was not too high for him to pay.

Does anything matter that much to you? The God who put the Olympic runner to the test has been doing the same thing for a long time! Some of you might have read a book called “Genesis.” In chapter 22, it says this: “The time came when God put Abraham to the test.”

“‘Abraham!' He called, and Abraham replied, ‘Here I am.’ God said, ‘Take your son Isaac, your only son, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a sacrifice on one of the hills which I will show you’ (Gen. 22:1–2 paraphrased).”

Can you imagine a command like that? What would you do? I bet I can guess. You’d struggle! Everywhere I go, young people talk to me of how they’re “struggling” with this and that: “I mean, like, you know, I’m just really struggling, you know . . . just really, really struggling!” (laughter)

Sometimes “struggling” is a nice word for postponed obedience. The book doesn’t say a word about Abraham’s feelings. If he worked through his feelings, he did a mighty quick job of it! You know what the book says? “Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his ass and [went out]” (v. 3). Immediate obedience! Abraham knew his God; that was what mattered.

Hundreds of years later, God was still sifting the hearts of men. A man came to Jesus: “Master,” he said, “What good must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus said, “If you wish to go the whole way, go and sell your possessions. Give to the poor, and then you will have riches in heaven, and come follow Me” (see Luke 18:21–22).

That man knew what mattered most to him . . . money. The book says, “He turned away sadly, for he had great wealth” (v. 23). He was too rich to follow! That’s what it comes down to. Do you know what really matters to you? Have you made up your mind about that? The tests are coming; I promise you, they’re coming!

If you’re anything like me, you’d like to have some idea of what the tests are going to be. I can’t tell you what the specific tests will be that God will use to sift your heart, but I’m going to tell you what they’ve been for some twentieth-century Christians. But first, I’ll tell you what to expect in this talk.

My talk tonight is about endurance. Have you ever heard that . . . ever heard that word? Three points (can you remember three?): Number 1: What do you live for? Number 2: How do you get it? Number 3: Is it worth it?

Number 1: What do you live for? Honestly, now, what is it? I wanted to give you a chance to answer that question for yourselves. It’s one question about which you simply must make up your mind. If there’s one thing that seems to be a problem for students these days, it’s making up their minds.

They don’t have any difficulty whatever knowing what kind of music they like, what they want on their Big Macs, and what kind of a car they’d buy if they had about forty-thousand dollars to throw around. They know the answers to those questions. But I’m talking about things that matter a little bit more than those things.

[Imitating female college student] “Well, I mean like, you know [smacks lips] . . . I’m just not really sure whether I can hack it with this roommate for the rest of the year! And I mean, like, you know, I really don’t know whether I should major in political science or home economics! I mean, like, you know it’s, it’s just really hard! (laughter)

[Imitating male college student] “I’m just not . . . and I’m just not sure I really I know what I’m going to be . . . and you know, like, maybe I should switch. I’m not sure I came to the right college and . . . well . . . my career, you know, like my dad wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer or somethin’ like that. But I’m just not really sure what I want to do. And then, there’s girl in my life and . . . well . . . we’ve got this neat, like, you know . . . relationship? And all . . . but, well, I mean, like, you know, um, just not sure I’m ready for all that stuff, and like commitment and all. You know what I mean? I haven’t really made up my mind!” (laughter)

Am I ringing any bells out there? What have you made up your mind about in the last, let’s say, two years? You know what you want in music and a car, on a hamburger. Do you know what you really want in life?

The Quichua Indians in the jungle of Ecuador had a very handy word that worked for an answer to anything! The word was yunga, and it means, “for nothing, for no particular purpose.” I remember one time a young Indian came to my husband Jim Elliot and told him that he wanted to be baptized, and Jim said, “Why?”

And he said, “Huh?”

And Jim said, “Why do you want to be baptized?”

And he said, “Yunga . . . for nothing; no particular reason.”

Jim said, “Well, you’re going to have to come up with a better answer than that!”

What do you live for? Yunga?

I want to tell you a little bit about that missionary, Jim Elliot. I knew him when he was a college student. As far as we women could see, he was unattainable—handsome, popular, champion wrestler, President of the Foreign Missions Fellowship, honor student, campus clown—but, alas . . . a woman-hater! That’s what we thought.

(And incidentally, guys, if you want them to swarm around you, let them think you’re unattainable. Give them something to wonder about!)

But we were way off. Jim Elliot was no woman-hater. He had found out when he was in high school that he could spend an awful lot of time and money on girls. They were very attractive, very interesting . . . and very expensive.

So he decided when he got to college that he would just “delete” them from his schedule! (laughter and cheering) It sounded like the men that were cheering on that one! He wanted something much more important.

He had made up his mind that he wanted two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts, which the college was qualified to confer and an AUG, which the college was not qualified to confer. The one he wanted most was AUG: Approved unto God. He got that out of the apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy, and he had made up his mind what he wanted to live for.

I found out how resolute Jim was in this decision when the college yearbooks came out. (I don’t even know whether you have college yearbooks anymore. I certainly don’t have any idea whether you go rushing around trying to get all your friends’ autographs in them, but that’s what we used to do.)

We girls would hope, forelonely, that the man that we had our eye on might put something besides his name in the book, something sweet. It was with great trepidation that I presented my book to Jim Elliott, asking for his autograph. And very fast, with his flowing, rapid hand, he wrote: “Jim Elliot, 2 Timothy 2:4.”

How long do you think it took me to get back to the dormitory and get my Bible to look up that verse!? (laughter) I was desperately hoping for a cryptic message. There was nothing cryptic about it! It said: “A soldier on active service will not let himself be involved in civilian affairs.” (laughter and applause)

It’s not the end of the verse. “He must be wholly at his commanding officer’s disposal.” Now, think back to Eric Liddell. How had he gotten to be a champion runner? By putting himself at the disposal of a coach—by learning the rules, by being obedient. Obedience to a track coach is bound to involve a tremendous amount of something called “endurance.”

This brings me to my second point. (You’ve already forgotten the first one; it was: What do you live for?) Number 2: How do you get it? Whatever it is you want, it’s going to cost you something. Eric Liddell put his gold medal on the line; Abraham his beloved son; Jim Elliot his life, ultimately.

If you want a 3.2 litre Ferrari with torsion bar suspension and porto venturi carburetors, it’s going to cost you something! Most of you, if you had the money to buy that kind of a car, would not feel that it was a sacrifice. It would be well worth it.

If it’s God’s will you want more than anything in the world, it’s going to mean endurance! Where did I get that idea? Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be happiness all the time . . . wonderful peace of mind . . . and feeling comfortable about things? Lots of good feelings and lots of good vibes?

I heard a song about, “I love the feeling that I get when I get together with God’s wonderful people!” Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Listen to what the writer to the Hebrews says that you need endurance if you are to do God’s will and attain what He has promised. You need endurance. Do you feel comfortable with that word? I don’t!

We like to feel comfortable about everything. Do you think those thousand hours of pounding the cinders were soothing to Eric Liddell? How relaxed do you think Abraham felt as he toiled up that mountain with his donkey and his servant . . . and the wood to roast his son?! Relaxed? Comfortable?

Listen to what an old preacher of the seventeenth century named Samuel Rutherford wrote:

It cost Christ and all His followers sharp showers and hot sweats ere they won to the top of the mountain. But still our soft nature would have heaven coming to our bedside when we are sleeping, and lying down with us, that we might go to heaven in warm clothes.

But all that came there found wet feet by the way, and sharp storms that did take the hide off their faces, and found to’s and fro’s and up’s and down’s and many enemies by the way.”

How shall we late-twentieth-century Americans (and whoever else is here) who hardly know what the word suffering means, ever grasp this idea that is so central to the gospel—that following Jesus Christ means a cross?

The cross was an instrument of torture. Would you wear an electric chair on a little gold chain around your neck? It was the Roman method of execution. “If you wish to go the whole way,” Jesus said to the rich young man, “sell everything!” The whole way. Jesus put His finger instantly on the crucial point . . . the man’s money, his possessions.

“Get rid of it!” He said, “Then follow Me!” Who wants to hear that? Who takes that kind of discipleship seriously? Some people do. I want to encourage you to see that it’s still possible to believe that God means what He says. He expects us to trust Him, and He offers us staggering rewards . . . if only we’ll endure.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon time, before you were born, there was in Ecuador a tribe of so-called savages. Not very much was known about these people. They were naked. They used stone tools, and they killed strangers. Nobody had ever gone into their territory and come out alive.

Missionaries had been praying that God would someday enable them to take the gospel to these Aucas, but it had never happened. It wasn’t until 1956 that the first “Operation Auca” was attempted. Five young American men banded together to do this.

I want to tell you a little bit about who they were and how they got there.

First, there was Nate Saint from Philadelphia, one of the founders of the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. He inaugurated the program of jungle flying in the eastern jungle of Ecuador. Pilots who have watched film footage of some of Nate’s landings on those canyons of green trees in the jungle have said that, “It’s impossible!” Nate was a genius! He was a rather slightly built blonde guy with a terrific sense of humor, a creative imagination, and an almost fanatical discipline and caution as a flyer.

Then there was Roger Youderian, a cowboy from Montana. He went into World War II as a paratrooper, was wounded, and somehow he ended up in the eastern jungle of Ecuador working with the Jivaros, those Indians that you’ve heard of who used to shrink people’s heads and put them up on poles around their houses or wear them on their belts. Really nice guys!

The next man was Pete Fleming from Seattle, Washington, an earnest scholarly type who had a Master’s Degree in Literature and planned on an academic career. God had another plan for Pete. He ended up in the jungle of Ecuador, working with the Quichua Indians, reducing their language to writing and beginning the rudiments of Bible translation.

Ed McCully was a guy that I knew in college, and when I think back, there’s hardly anybody who seemed less likely to me to become a missionary than Ed McCully. He was handsome. Good looks can open a lot of doors, but I don’t think they’ll get you very far on the mission field! Doesn’t it seem like kind of a waste? I mean, here was this guy, six-feet-three, football player, track star, president of his class. When the Hearst newspaper chain sponsored a nationwide oratorical contest, there were twenty-thousand entrants. Just picture everybody that’s at KC ’83 entering that oratorical contest. Ed McCully won first place! He was smooth.

We thought he’d make a great politician; that’s what he was going to be. He had charisma. And he went to law school. But God changed his mind after he got into law school and somehow he, too, ended up in some God-forsaken corner of the eastern jungle of Ecuador . . . again, a missionary to the Quichuas. Why would a guy like that bury himself in the jungle? Couldn’t he find more fruitful ways to use his gifts, all those talents that God had given him?

Wasn’t than an awful waste? Well, yes it was, if what matters to you is self-image, fame, money, success. Terrible waste! The backwoods isn’t really a very auspicious place to pursue those kinds of things.

Then there was the fifth man, one I got to know pretty well. His name was Jim Elliot. I’ve already told you what he was after when he went to college: the AUG degree.

If what you really want is God’s approval, it’s going to mean endurance—sharp showers and hot sweats. You don’t just decide one Tuesday morning that you’re going to be a hero of the faith. There has to be a period—a long period, maybe years—of learning to walk humbly in obedience with God.

You put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one day at a time, year after year . . . beginning now!

Nancy: That’s Elisabeth Elliot in part 1 of her classic message on endurance, recorded at a Campus Crusade for Christ student gathering in 1983. We’ll hear the rest of it tomorrow here on Revive Our Hearts.

I remember so well the day in 2015 when I heard the news that Elisabeth had gone home to be with the Lord. And now, I’m thrilled about a book that’s recently been released of some of her previously unpublished messages. It’s called Suffering Is Never for Nothing.

We’d love to send you a copy of this new book. I know it will encourage you to lean on the Lord for perseverance and endurance for whatever trial you may be going through. And when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount this month, we want to say “thank you” by sending you this new book. Your gift will help us encourage other women to persevere in life’s hardships.

When you donate at, you’ll see a place to request Elisabeth’s book, Suffering Is Never for Nothing. You can also call us and ask for the book at 1–800–569–5959.

So, what exactly does it mean to “run with resolution”? Tomorrow we’ll hear the conclusion of this message from Elisabeth Elliot talking about endurance. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to cheer you on as you persevere! It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker