With a Lifeway gift card in hand, I walked into the store about a month ago on a search for what to get. I had thought that this would be a somewhat quick trip in and out. I was wrong. I have a slight frustration with Christian bookstores as the whole idea of marketing Jesus makes me want to throw some tables, Jesus style. However, they are great. Really. Just avoid the fish candies at the register. Anyway, back to the story. I walked in on a hunt for a great challenging book. I had an idea of what I was wanting for but for some reason, I just couldn't figure out exactly what it was. At last, I had found about five books that I was seriously considering. It was a wide variety of authors and subjects. I really wanted something that would challenge me where I am at right now. With that, I chose two Elisabeth Elliot books; the aforementioned as well as one on personal discipline.
Confession: I love to read...but I don't as much as I should.
With that confession, I can say that I'm just beginning this book about a month after its purchase. I know. I've stopped hoping that "someday" all of my faults will be gone and realize that some things about me may just never change. For example, I will always procrastinate. However, there are so many things that I need to constantly strive to improve. I'll come up with that list later, procrastination style.
I'm eighty-five pages into the three hundred forty one page book. Not far. Far enough to be challenged and stretched? Affirmative. The life of Jim Elliot is inspiring and challenging. His focus was unbelievable. The pages are filled with stories of his dedication to the cause of Christ and his boldness to share it. It challenges how I view every single day of my life and what I fill them with. When the name "Jim Elliot" comes up, his death is what is most remembered. While reading I thought, "why?". Why did God allow such a passionate dedicated child of His die like this? Jim was doing so much for the Lord and inspired many in his life to serve Him better. Why did this happen? It occurred to me that it is what is most remembered that is the reason. Jim Elliot far glorified Christ more in his death than if he would have if he stayed alive. It was the boldness of Jim that stirs the passions of missionaries to this day; including this one (it's still weird to think of myself as one). It is the reaction of the wives of these men that encourages us to see the people we serve as those to be loved by Him as they went to the same men that killed their husbands to show them the love of Christ. We are to shine Christ's love through us; no matter if this love is returned. Is this not true in our own lives? In mine? Christ's love for me is overwhelming and more than I deserve. What have I done to deserve this? Who am I to receive this? How have I repaid this love? In love, Christ died in order that I would have eternal life. In love, Jim died in order that we would see Christ. It is this form of surrender that is so challenging. Jim described sacrifice like this:
"(Leviticus 17:10) He who consumes blood will ever have the face of God set against him. So with me. If I would save my life-blood, and forbear to pour it out as a sacrifice - thus opposing the example of my Lord - then must I know the flint of the face of God set against my purpose. Father, take my life, yea, my blood if Thou wilt, and consume it with Thine enveloping fire. I would not save it, for it is not mine to save. Have it, Lord, have it all. Pour out my life as an oblation for the world. Blood is only of value as it flows before Thine altar."
THIS is what Christianity is about. Jim's surrender and sacrifice are an example to all of us but more importantly, Christ was Jim's example. It is the sacrifice of Christ that shows us that if our Lord and Savior did this; sacrificed and surrendered it all, how can I refuse? I can't. My life is not my own and thus, not mine to save. The Christian life is hard! It is not easy. Hence my frustration with a marketable Jesus. Sacrifice isn't marketable. Suffering doesn't sell. It gives zero warm fuzzies. It is not sweet tasting, nor shaped like a fish. We look to the example of Christ as well as our fellow believers (check out Hebrews 11!) to spur us on; to help us keep going when we just want to give up. We sacrifice all.
So, have it ALL, Lord. Have it all.