Friday, May 21, 2010

These Strange Ashes

"As I look back on that time, I think it was Lesson One for me in the school of faith. That is, it was my first experience of having to bow down before that which I could not possibly explain. Usually we need not bow. We can simply ignore the unexplainable because we have other things to occupy our minds. We sweep it under the rug. We evade the questions.

"Faith's most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain. If God were God, if He were omnipotent, if He had cared, would this have happened? Is this that I face now the ratification of my calling, the reward of obedience? One turns in disbelief again from the circumstances and looks into the abyss. But in the abyss there is only blackness, no glimmer of light, no answering echo ...

"It was a long time before I came to the realization that it is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself. Even the Son of God had to learn obedience by the things He suffered. He had come for only one purpose: 'Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God.' And His reward was desolation, crucifixion ...

"Each separate experience of individual stripping we may learn to accept as a fragment of the suffering Christ bore when He took it all. 'Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.' This grief, this sorrow, this total loss that empties my hands and breaks my heart, I may, if I will, accept, and by accepting it, I find in my hands something to offer. And so I give it back to Him, who in mysterious exchange gives Himself to me ...

"It was only gradually during the months that followed that I saw that to God nothing is finally lost. All the Scriptural metaphors about the death of the seed that falls into the ground, about losing one's life, about becoming the least in the kingdom, about the world's passing away--all these go on to something unspeakably better and more glorious. Loss and death are only the preludes to gain and life ...

"Faith, prayer, and obedience are our requirements. We are not offered in exchange immunity and exemption from the world's woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether."


--Elisabeth Elliot, excerpts from These Strange Ashes.

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