Archives for posts with tag: Elisabeth Elliot

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I think I finally understand the meaning of “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  FDR may have been coming at it from a different set of circumstances and perspective (global perspective vs. just-me, myself, and I perspective)…  But I really get it. And a man in a red coat on a woodsy path, along with a hugely oversized raccoon helped me “get it”, and speak it and do it…”speak softly and carry a big stick”, that is!

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You see, I went for a long walk the other morning.  Was beautiful. I wanted to see the sunrise in the morning, but it was cloudy at 7 a.m., so I went down by the river where I often go. And I walked, and I sang, (didn’t think any humans were there to hear me 🙂  ) , and I prayed, and thought, and took photos.

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I walked a long time, and went further down the path than I had ever gone. On the way, I questioned my wisdom a few times because it’s deer season in the south, and there were gunshots coming from across the river…close gunshots…and I was easily heard in the rustling of the leaves with each step. But am guessing I was not so easily seen with a gray sweatshirt on.  Red would’ve been a much better choice I decided.

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And then I heard a crazy, crazy animal scream at the top of a ravine, and my first thought was, “I wonder if there are mountain lions or cougars in these hills”. And then there was the moment when I got to what appeared to be the end of a path…it opened up onto a hill …but there was a house there, with abandoned vehicles, sheds, and a very big and quite concerned  dog with a low and loud bark. He made it obvious that I was an intruder. I kind of decided that although there was another marker pointing to a path on the hill top (Jolly Mountain), that it might be a wise thing to turn around. And after taking a few shots (photos, ha!) in the clearing, I turned around.

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So, exaggerated or not, these present and possible dangers probably made my heart rate go up quite a bit more than the walk itself. (My Fitbit can attest to that!) But those first few seeming threats were NOTHING compared to what would  meet me on the trail on the walk back.

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I was walking along and lost in thought when I saw a man about 1/8 mile away. He was wearing a red down coat and was standing still, looking my way, and staring.  Self-defense tactics that my husband had shared with me in his undercover narc days surfaced a bit in my brain, and soon gave way to confusion as the man in the red coat started yelling something at me.  So I stopped the rustling of the leaves and listened. And finally, I heard…and then,…I saw.

On the path between he and I was a HUGE, I mean HUGE raccoon. And it was daytime, and that concerned me a bit. Nocturnal animals should be asleep by now. It concerned the man in the red down jacket too. “I think he’s rabid…be really careful!!!”  So, the man in the red down jacket was no threat, but there might be a much scarier threat lurking. (My husband’s self-defense tips just wouldn’t apply to defend against a crazed raccoon…)

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So…Hmm. Okay.  I kind of froze. Not out of total fear, but I needed a bit of think time.  And a stick. I needed a stick.  (The man yelled that, too. “YOU MIGHT WANT TO GET A STICK!!” he yells…not softly at all.)  And he walked on further, and then stopped to see if I’d make it by this huge raccoon in the middle of the path. (He was kind to wait, but to be honest, I kind of wanted this man who I originally thought was a threat, to do the chivalrous and self-sacrificing act of actually coming to rescue me and ensure that I was safe…,ha. And that’s hard to admit for me and my seemingly-independent self. )

So…I walked softly, prayed softly, (but heartily), and got a big stick.

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…and I walked on toward the raccoon and when I got a little bit close, I proceeded to take the ‘high road’, and as the raccoon went toward the river, I walked way up off the beaten path on higher ground. Thankfully, as I walked on by,  the raccoon disappeared into a hole just beyond the lower side of the path. The man  in the red coat walked on, and I breathed a prayer of thanks,…quickened my pace,… and continued to hold on to that stick, and decided to ‘walk with purpose’ rather than linger and take photos.

Sometimes real threats are all around us and we don’t even know it. We can be surrounded by things that might or might not be dangerous. We can be aware of them, or totally oblivious to them.In this oft-crazy world, it seems as though it’s getting easier and easier to live in fear. But fear  often lives in the what might happen. Faith walks in the now.  I’m thinking faith walks hand in hand with fear sometimes. I mean, my heart was pumping, and what if’s were popping up in my head.  I love the Elisabeth Elliot quote that says, “Sometimes fear does not subside and I must choose to do it afraid.”  Lots of times for this girl. Walking past this seeming threat of a possibly-rabid raccoon is way low on the list of things I’ve needed to “choose to do afraid”.   But it really reminded me of the toll that fear can take on us.

I’m thinking it’s a good thing to be equipped to battle our fears…with tenacity, wisdom, smarts, and …sticks…tools to help us guard our hearts and minds and bodies.  Sometimes we can guard against very present dangers. We wear seat belts. We take vitamins. We go inside during lightning storms and in the basement in the threat of a tornado. We take preventive measures to protect our children, adult or not.  Caution is a good thing…as long as we continue living and stretching and moving forward.

Fear can bring on a state of paralysis where we’re so afraid to move to the left or the right that we never take a step at all. I’ve been there. (Even on my walk I had a ‘moment’!)  It seems to me that the paralysis sets in when I feel as though I’m a bit at the mercy of a situation…or a rabid raccoon or barking dog or man on a path yelling at me.  But thankfully, we can arm ourselves with more than sticks.

The Bible talks about the battles we face being against principalities, against things that are forces that can’t be seen. Sticks won’t do much in this battle. But the “armor” that is spoken of in Ephesians 6 can battle those unseen things.  The ‘belt of truth’ (focusing on what is True rather than the feelings or exaggerated ‘what ifs ‘ , etc.)  , ‘the breastplate of righteousness’ (walking with integrity, making good choices protects people in countless ways….) , the ‘shoes of the gospel of peace’ (God’s grace changes everything…everything, and allows us to walk in places with a new perspective) , ‘the shield of faith’ (He can do what I can’t, that’s for sure. I can focus on fear, or faith…faith shield and protects my heart), ‘the helmet of salvation’ (Grace protects my mind and changes the way I think..), and ‘the sword of the Spirit’ (The unseen can only be battled with the Unseen…can do what I can’t) …these all combat and protect the heart and mind in a world where there’s way more to lose than the physical.

I don’t know what real or present dangers you are facing. These tiny ‘threats’ on my walk were nothing compared to some of the battles we all face with real and legitimate fears for ourselves, for friends, for spouses and parents and children.  But I think there’s wisdom to really prepare our hearts, minds and bodies to be aware of what’s around us. It’s a good, good thing to control what we can, and trust God with what we can’t. I thought back to my walk and how the whole time was spent in solitude….with no humans in sight at all, until the man in the red coat. It struck me that if I had been taking photos and not paying attention, this scenario could’ve turned out quite differently, because that raccoon was there, and I could’ve truly been oblivious to its presence until I was right next to it. But thanks to the warning of the loud man in the red coat, well, the danger was heeded off. I wonder how many things we’re guarded from daily, hourly, momentarily that we’re not even aware of. Yes, it’s good to control what we can, but I’m so thankful that there’s often  much protection than we’ll ever be aware of.

So, thought for the day?  Yes, “speak softly and carry a big stick…”  is good advice. For leaders of countries for sure…*sigh*, and for me. Navigating through volatile and heated situations and dangers is cause for self-control and wisdom and respect….and then, only if necessary, muscles and sticks to guard, guard, guard, protect, protect, protect, but not aggressively trample and destroy. In the woods, in homes, work places and amongst nations, am thinking FDR knew what he was talking about.

Just a few thoughts which surfaced on my LONG walk on a cold November morning.

Blessings to you and yours ~
Heather

 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,  you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand….”

Ephesians 6:12

 

 

 

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“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”  ~ Elisabeth Elliot

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“In acceptance lies peace…”

~ Elisabeth Elliot

Photo taken at sunset on the Broad River

June 23, 2015

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Elisabeth Elliot, Christian author, speaker passed away yesterday.  But she always knew she was just passing through.  Decades ago, she wrote a book called Through the Gates of Splendor . It is a book of courage.  It is a story of tenacious and compassionate faith that moves people to serve Christ and go to the “ends of the earth” even if it means never coming back.  It is a story of missionaries who love well, serve well, and do not cower  and give in to pity regarding the pain and struggles in life.Through the Gates of Splendor is a book written by a woman whose courage, tenacity, and love of Christ compelled her to live a holy life both publicly and privately and to share her wisdom in a straightforward manner with women like me.

Elisabeth Elliot went through the deaths of 2 husbands- one a violent death when she was a young woman with a ten-month old baby.  She was in Ecuador, lands away from the Eastern part of the United States. She grieved, stood her ground, and continued ministering to the people there, ultimately sharing the gospel with those who had taken the life of her husband.  She went through a lot. But she knew that she was not alone.  She states that when she learned of her husband, Jim Elliot’s death, the scripture that came to her mind was “When you pass through the waters, i will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:1)  Boldly and humbly accepting with both hands what God had allowed in her life.  She would say “Where He leads me I will follow, What He feeds me I will swallow.”  I’m certain the quote was about a lot more than trying new foods on the mission field. Another quote that I have so held on to through the years is, “In acceptance lies peace.”  Her focus was not on herself and her needs, but on serving Christ.  Period.  God used her mightily as she trusted Him to lead her through whatever circumstance He allowed. He used her mightily on the mission field.  He used her mightily in the comforts of her own home as she shared her wisdom, stories, and insights on the radio with women like me for so many years.

As a young mom, I would so look forward to hearing her words.  She always came on the radio during my children’s nap time.  In my early “mom” days, I had up to 3 sleeping preschoolers along with a nursing baby. (We had 6 children by the time my oldest was 8 years old….Life was full, to say the least!) Knowing that Elisabeth Elliot was coming on the radio for 15 minutes was motivation for me to ensure that the children were fed and in their beds for napping well before the time when she came on the radio, because I intrinsically knew that I needed her wisdom.  I so appreciated her straightforward but caring way of saying it like it is.  She didn’t sugarcoat the gospel.  There’s a cost for serving Christ.  She didn’t sugarcoat or blur the lines of what it means to me a woman.  She knew that life was not easy but did not make excuses for laziness or watering down the Word of God.  She knew the Word through and through, for it was the foundation that had led her through so much of her life.

I can remember her saying things like “pick up the socks.”  In a world that was demanding equality between men and women and was making constant cries of women not being “subservient” to men, Elisabeth Elliot had the wisdom and courage to know that in a Christian marriage, it is all about being subservient… to each other.   That a woman who picks up the sock?  Well, she may help motivate her husband to love well more than a woman who nags and whines about the sock.  I  can remember many internal debates I had with this Godly woman as I sought to find my way through the words of the world to the ways of scripture, and it wasn’t always an easy or pretty process.  But her wisdom helped me through so much.

I could literally write a book on the way that her words impacted me, both as a college student at Urbana Mission Conference in 1984, and as a young mom listening to her on the radio on a daily basis.  Now as an older woman with grown children, I am so thankful for the beauty of the way she lived her life.  I have missed her on the radio, but was aware that she had her own battles with dementia…another life struggle that she was not immune to, but lived through.  Through.  

In a world that screams “I’M THROUGH” when times get tough, Elisabeth Elliot was a strong voice of conviction that cut through the ridiculous self-centered ideologies and called Christians to walk THROUGH life’s challenges with courage knowing that it is so not about us, because we are all just passing THROUGH.  Passing through.

Passing through ….to?  TO the Gates of Splendor.  To the Full-on Presence of God. To the eternal Presence of God.  To the Place and Person that we were created to Serve and Worship and Adore.  This life can be lived with courage when we know that no matter what we go through, we are all just passing through.  I am thankful for the beautiful convictions that this Godly woman shared and for the way she has helped women like me to become more tenacious in our faith as we cling to the hope that only comes through Christ, no matter what we must endure or go through.

Elisabeth Elliot’s life here has ended, but so not her influence.  I cannot imagine what it is like to pass through the gates of splendor, but it just brings a smile to my face to picture what must be on the other side.  She lived through so much with hope because she knew that it wasn’t the end of the story.  I  love this quote by her, “Of one thing I am perfectly sure ~  God’s story does not end in ashes.”  Knowing that allows us to walk through our  struggles, our ‘valleys of the shadow’, with hope, heart, and conviction.

One more thing.  As I said earlier, I did have a few little debates with this Godly woman over the years. (She always won, by the way!)  But one of my little tiffs with her was that she ended the radio program with a scripture that said, “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. ” (Deuteronomy 33:27)  I can remember wondering why that was the scripture she chose.  As a young woman I can remember thinking there must be a better scripture she could end with. But as an older woman?  It is now one of my favorite verses that I cling to on a daily basis.  Why?  Because of what I have been through. I have seen life come crashing down in so many areas that I could not hold up on my own…but…..”BUT…..UNDERNEATH are the EVERLASTING ARMS”.  When everything falls apart, underneath are the everlasting arms.  When there is nothing and no one to hold on to, He helps us THROUGH because ‘underneath are the everlasting arms.’  Elisabeth Elliot knew that, well.  And now? Now, I know that too.

May His amazing love for you and me en-courage us to love well with conviction, stand firm, and walk through whatever His grace allows into our lives. For our God?  Our God will walk through it all with us.  For the Eternal God is our Refuge and Underneath are the Everlasting Arms. (Deut. 33:27)  And like this precious woman of faith, we are all just passing through.

Blessings ~

Heather

“We are women, and my plea is Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is” 

~ Elisabeth Elliot, December 21, 1926-June 15, 2015

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure – God’s story does not end in ashes.”

~ Elisabeth Elliot

Photo taken in Cemetery at Beaver Dam Baptist Church, Shelby, NC

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