Tag Archive for Elisabeth Elliot

Are You Accomplishing Anything For God?

Maybe you’re discouraged today, dear friend.

Maybe you’re wondering if what you’re doing matters in the long run.

Last week I wondered, too.

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I was reading over a list of New Year’s questions (meant for personal reflection and growth) from a sweet friend in a writing group. It was a wonderfully thorough list, meant to prompt confession, repentance, acceptance.  Questions like:

  • “If the last year could be summed up in a word, what would it be?”
  • “What are the two or three themes that kept occurring.”
  • “What are some major life lessons I learned this year.”
  • “What’s one thing I can do this year to increase my enjoyment of God?”

I breezed through them until I came to this one:

What did I accomplish this year that I am most proud of?”

I sat and thought. What one thing did I accomplish that I was most proud of?

Honestly, I couldn’t think of one. I sat on this for a few days, thinking about it. Still nothing. This really bothered me.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t done anything. We live a busy life. But to not be able to think of one thing? This bothered me enough to write a dear friend to see if she could think it through with me. (THIS is the benefit of having iron-sharpening-iron friends.) We hashed it out a little and she helped me gain perspective.

Some seasons of life cannot be measured by accomplishments.

There are times when life happens so fast and people need you so intensely that what you accomplished hardly makes the highlight reel. (Think sickness, death, new baby, foster child, new adoption, moving, etc…)

This Christmas I planted a lovely amaryllis bulb that a sweet reader, Becky, gave to me. I’ve been watching it grow and bloom against the backdrop of the grey bare trees outside my window. It started as a brown bulb, a stump really, not very pretty but full of potential. I planted it, put it on the windowsill, and gave it water. Things must have happened underground, because now it’s in full crimson bloom. The flower was alive and accomplishing its task underground before any of us had any clue it was accomplishing anything. The growing season was an accomplishment that allowed the flower to blossom.

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I believe our mundane days are the same–underground work, unseen, undetected, un-celebrated, but vital.

Maybe you are in a mundane season right now. Maybe all your hard work is unseen because it’s undone the very next day– the clean house dirtied, the once shiny sink now full of grimy water.

Moms, we feed hungry bellies. We wash clothes and remove stains. We wipe tears and console hurt feelings. We listen to little hearts. We make meals for others and host people in our home. We bake cakes to mark milestones for family parties and church fellowships. We bathe dirty bodies and change messy diapers. We stir stew and kneed bread. We watch our neighbor’s kids. We calm irrational fears and keep toddlers on our hip when they are whiny. We make sure our kids do their homework, get to their appointments, and make their beds. We sit with hurting women. We stay behind so that our husband can minister to others.

It’s not hollywood stuff and it may not be memorable, but it’s important. This is the stuff of life and it’s where God has called us to bloom. It may not feel like an accomplishment. Nobody’s going to celebrate that you made your bed and got tangles out of the two year old’s hair.

But it’s our sacred work. It’s our reasonable service.

My friend sent me this wonderful verse:

Ps. 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

God doesn’t require accomplishments. God just wants us to be faithful right where we are. He wants us to take joy as we serve others in hidden ways that no one will ever know about except God.

My friend also sent me these lovely lines from Robert Louis Stevenson that I hope encourage you as much as they encouraged me!

“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain common work as it comes certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.”

and

“Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.”

And from Elisabeth Elliot:

This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

Lesser Known Lessons From Elisabeth Elliot

Like many women, my life is better for having read and heard the teachings of Elisabeth Elliot.

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I appreciated her gracious, no-nonsense approach to teaching, perhaps because I am from New England where emotions tend to take a back seat to common sense.

She spoke truth and didn’t apologize for God’s Word, and she didn’t conform God’s word to the whims of the women she spoke to.

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I have to admit that she was one of the only women that I actually enjoyed hearing speak. (I have a hand full, and she topped the list.) She practiced what she preached, and her experience from her own authentic walk with God gave her credibility. She challenged her listeners to get to know God in an era where everyone was trying to find themselves to be fulfilled. She didn’t care if her message was popular or not because she lived for the approval of One and encouraged us to do the same.

There are many tributes to Elisabeth this week, all sharing her wonderful quotes. Today I want to share some of my personal notes from lectures I listened to over the years. Hopefully they will bless you as much as they’ve blessed me.

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From a Contest of Wills, lecture

Are we accepting the will of God? Are we prepared humbly, and gratefully and faithfully to receive his will and say “Not my will be done, but Thine.” 

He knows better than we do. He is a loving Father and he knows what’s good for us. I hear mothers talk about having a “strong willed child.” My question is, “What kind of Strength is it?” Is it strong enough to pit His will against yours?

Jesus in his agony in the garden said, If it be possible let this cup pass from me. But if it is not possible nevertheless not my will, but thine be done…and that is strength of will.

{A strong willed child} does not have strength of will… it is just stubbornness. Everyone of us is born a rebel.

A contest of wills. We will never have a quiet heart until we bring our own will into harmony of that of God. There will always be conflict and anger….One of the reasons I wrote, Keep a Quiet Heart, is because I don’t seem to meet many women who have a quiet heart.

Whose agenda are you accepting? Have you decided that you are angry with God, because He has not conformed His will to yours? What pride and presumption. Presumption is defined this way: audacity, insolence, arrogance, effrontery, shameless boldness…presumption.

If God is my heavenly father and laid down his life for me, isn’t is reasonable to assume that he knows a whole lot better than I do what’s good for me? Angry at God? Our heavenly father wants nothing but the best for any of us.

God is in control, and I am not at the mercy of {circumstances.} So I can keep a quiet heart.

Whose agenda? God’s or mine?

God knows what you need and also when you need it.

When He withholds that one thing we believe will make us happy, we’d do well to remember his promise, that he’ll meet all our needs.

I get so many anguished letters from women and they feel that God is withholding that one thing in the whole world that would make them happy…

Whose agenda? A contest of wills. Is it my will or His? My God shall supply all your needs. And if you don’t have it, you don’t need it today.

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A Quiet Heart Means Confidence in God, lecture

How can we quiet our hearts before the Lord?

Lord, give to me a quiet heart, that does not ask to understand, but confidence steps forward in the darkness, guided by thy hand.

We live in a world of noise. So where can we find quietness? Quite often it’s hard to find physical quietness, but it is always possible to have a quiet heart.

Where does it begin? It comes from a long, steady, sustained gaze at God himself. The life of Jesus. Jesus lived a very busy life…people plucked at his sleeves, asking for things, arguing with him, believing him, disbelieving him, interrupting his prayer times. Jesus had a quiet heart because he only did one thing, the same thing that you and I have to do…the will of the Father.

When I keep that in mind, it completely changes the look of things. My life, my heart, it changes my home and how I do things.

That doesn’t mean that I forsake the laundry or peeling the onions for soup.

Our inner eye is directed toward God.

I am doing the laundry for God.

I am peeling the onion for God.

Everything in my life is an offering…my body, life, heart, emotions, time, work, possessions, sufferings, joy, work, is an offering to God and that gives me a quiet heart.

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Glad Surrender, lecture

Contentment is a command. My mother used to say “Behave yourselves.” Contentment is really taking yourself by the scruff of the neck and behaving yourself when you are feeling discontent about anything. It’s being still. “Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side, bear patiently the cross of grief and pain.”

We often confuse meekness with weakness. Meekness is teach-ability. Are you teachable? Or are you only selectively teachable? Sometimes God assigns to us very strange counselors, but we aren’t meek enough to receive it from THAT person.

From my favorite devotional that has been around for a hundred years, Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary W. Tileston

If we wished to gain contentment, we might try such rules as these:—

1. Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.

2. Never picture thyself to thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.

3. Never compare thine own lot with that of another.

4. Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.

5. Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God’s, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. “The Lord will provide.”

E. B. Pusey.

Heb. 13:5, “Be content with such things as you have.” That’s a command. We are to trust that God does know what He is doing. We have a Father who is faithful, fortress, friend, and helper. Do you believe that? That’s truth. You can’t possibly be contented without trusting that God does know what He’d doing…

Psalm 16:5 is one of my life verses. “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup and have made my my lot secure.” Isn’t that a calm, peaceful sense that we have when we realize that God has assigned us our life, lot, and portion…

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Continued tomorrow.

What are your favorite lesser known lessons from Elisabeth? Please share with us in the comments or on FB.