Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Relational Endurance

 

 

 
 

Leslie Basham: Elisabeth Elliot knows what it means to wait on the Lord. Today she has some wise counsel for young people who want to know God’s will for their love life. Here’s Elisabeth Elliot.

Elisabeth Elliot: Here is the crux of the matter: Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, His lordship.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, January 4th.

Waiting is never easy. Today Nancy brings us part three of a talk by Elisabeth Elliot. She points out that waiting can be even more difficult if our desires seem to conflict with what God wants for us. Here’s Nancy with more.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Thanks, Leslie. You know, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot are probably best known for two things. One is Jim’s martyrdom half a century ago, which is the reason we’re bringing you this talk by Elisabeth this week to commemorate the death of those five missionaries on January 8, 1956.

But the second thing we remember Jim and Elisabeth Elliot for is their courtship. As we’ll hear today, it truly was a story of passion and purity. Here’s Elisabeth Elliot speaking to a group of college students back in 1983.

Elisabeth: In Lilias Trotter’s beautiful book Parables of the Cross, she describes the death/life cycle of plants, which illustrates the spiritual processes that must go on in us if we are to die to self and live to God. This is what she says:

"The fair, new petals must fall, and for no visible reason. No one seems enriched by the stripping. And the first step into the realm of giving is a like surrender, not man-ward, but God-ward, an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning. That is not worthy of the name, for no polluted thing can be offered."

Did you ever see it like that? The loveliness of a flower has to go. The test for Jim Elliot was falling in love. Anything wrong with that? He was swept off his feet by love for a girl. She had been attracted to him for a long time and had been wrestling with God over the same question of singleness and, like Jim, had finally said, “Yes, Lord, if that’s what You’re asking, I’ll do it. I’ll be a single missionary.”

I remember that commitment very well. I was that girl. I remember Memorial Day 1948, just before I was to graduate. Jim asked me to go for a walk with him. Jim Elliot asking me to go for a walk . . . I nearly died. I could hardly breathe for excitement. I tell you this because I want you to know that I’ve been where you are. I know your feelings.

“Well, Bet,” Jim said, “guess we better get squared away about how we feel about each other.” I nearly went through the sidewalk. Feel about each other? What gave him the idea that I had any feelings for him? I thought I’d been doing a terrific job concealing my feelings. I wasn’t just playing hard to get. I was determined to be just like Jim—impossible to get.

I have to make a long story short here. You can read the details if you want to in Shadow of the Almighty and in Passion and Purity. Incidentally, someone asked me this afternoon if Passion and Purity is for men as well as for women, and I would say no, unless you happen to be a man who has some passions or has had any struggles with purity; in that case, it’s for you.

Anyway, Jim and I went to a park and we sat on the grass and talked for seven hours. What were we to make of this tornado of passion we suddenly felt for each other? Did it mean that God wanted us to forget all the agonies we’d gone through over our singleness struggles and just fall into each other’s arms?

We had a few weeks before graduation. We took some more walks. We did some more pondering and praying alone and some more talking together. One night we wandered into a cemetery and found ourselves sitting on a convenient marble slab trying to sort through what God was trying to tell us.

I said it didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me to tell God that we wanted Him to handle this whole thing if we intended to keep our hands on. It was going to have to be hands off, turning it entirely over to the Lord.

See, after graduation there wasn’t much chance that we were going to see each other because Jim had another year in college. He lived in Oregon. I lived in New Jersey. He was headed for South America. I thought I was headed for Africa or perhaps the South Seas.

“Does it make sense to you?” I asked him. “Should we write?” He didn’t say anything for awhile, and then we sat there in silence. Finally he said, “You’re right. It doesn’t make sense. And I know you’re right because this morning the passage that I was reading in my Bible was about Abraham and Isaac. Abraham made the sacrifice. He tied the son down on the altar and he raised the knife.

“And I knew right then that God was asking me to give up the most precious thing in my life—you. Would I give it to Him? Or would I refuse? I said I’d give it. So, that’s where you’re going to stay, Bet,” he said, “on the altar, unless God shows me that I don’t need to make that final sacrifice.”

There was another long silence, and then suddenly we realized that the moon had risen behind us and was casting the shadow of a stone cross between us on that slab.

In the book I just mentioned, Passion and Purity, I’ve quoted the poem that I wrote in my journal on that occasion:

Hold thou Thy cross between us, Blessed Lord.
Let us love Thee, to us Thy power for to remain prostate at Thy pierced feet.
There is no other place where we may meet.
Set Thou our faces as a flint of stone to do Thy will.
Our goal be this alone.
Oh God, our hearts are fixed.
Let us not turn.
Consume all our affections.
Let Thy love burn.

You need endurance. You’ll have to pay a price. You’ll find out about sharp storms and hot sweats. They don’t always come in the form you envision when you think about the great heroes of the faith. I am giving you just one example of the form it took for a couple of college students 36 years ago.

We wanted, above everything else, the will of God; and here is the crux of the matter. By the way, did you know that the word crux means cross? Did you know that the word crucial comes from the same root? Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, His lordship.

The cross, as it enters the love life, will reveal the heart’s truth. I’m convinced that this is the point at which many young people refuse the cross, refuse to endure hardship. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews lists what we call heroes of the faith. You know the stories . . . Abel’s sacrifice, Noah’s ark, Abraham’s long journey, Sarah’s late pregnancy, Moses in the bulrushes.

But did you ever think about some of the mundane aspects of their heroism? Ever think about the jealousy of Cain and what it did to his brother, Abel? Ever think about the scoffing of Noah’s neighbors while he was building that ark on dry land? Ever think about what Noah and his family endured when they got into the boat?

Think about the mooing and barking and roaring and clucking and grunting and whistling and chattering and peeping and hissing and quacking and trumpeting and growling and squeaking and snarling and mooing and braying and naying and whinnying and howling and growling . . . I mean, talk about a racket! Forty days, forty nights—Noah endured.

Jim and I waited five and a half years before God gave us a green light to get married. We didn’t go through anything like those people I just listed, but it was a form of endurance. It was tough enough for us at the time. It was a test. Were we going to trust God during all those years of silence and separation and uncertainty? Mind you, we had no commitment to each other.

I haven’t time to tell you the rest of the story. I want to say this much—that on our wedding day the Lord gave us this verse from Isaiah: “This is our God. We have waited for Him.” He was worth it.

Nancy: "We have waited for Him, and it was worth it." We’ve been listening to Elisabeth Elliot from KC83, a rally for college students held in Kansas City in 1983. As we reflect on what we’ve heard from Elisabeth today, let me just highlight a few points.

First, before Jim Elliot could know that Elisabeth Howard was the girl he was to marry, he had to settle the issue, did God want him to be married at all? And he was willing to put Elisabeth on the altar and keep her there until God confirmed in his heart that it was His will for Jim to be married.

Then, as we’ve heard, Jim and Elisabeth definitely had strong feelings for each other, but you notice they didn’t let their emotions rule their lives. If they had simply followed their feelings, they would have gotten married right away, but instead they did their best to step back, pray and search the Scriptures.

Finally, we see the value of waiting for God’s timing. And I love how Elisabeth ended. She just said simply, “It was worth it.” Let me encourage you to learn the art of waiting on the Lord. Psalm 27 says waiting on the Lord takes courage, but Isaiah 40 reminds us that when we wait on the Lord, eventually we will mount up with wings as eagles, we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not faint. Waiting on the Lord. That’s the way to build endurance.

Leslie Basham: The book that best captures the love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot is called Passion and Purity, and we have it available here at Revive Our Hearts. Find out more by visiting www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you’ve never gotten in touch with us before, we’d like to send you a calendar you can carry in your purse. It’s yours at no cost if you go to our website and click on “Contact” and let us know; or call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow we’ll hear more from Elisabeth Elliot about enduring hardship; also more from Steve Saint, son of pilot Nate Saint. You won’t want to miss another edition of Revive Our Hearts.

Now, here’s Nancy to close our time in prayer.

Nancy: Father, forgive us for so often trying to worm our way out of committing ourselves wholeheartedly to You. We want to be intentional about our lives. Would You grant us the grace to give an unconditional yes to You? Thank You for the examples You give us, both in the Scripture and over these past 50 years, of what that kind of life looks like.

Holy Spirit, I pray that You would expose those areas of our lives that we still may be holding on to. In Jesus’ name I pray it, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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