“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”
~ Jim Elliot
As John and I continue to move forward with our plans for seminary we are occasionally reminded of what we are giving up. As if being reminded of all the wonderful things in our life will make us change our mind. We are well aware of all the blessings God has bestowed upon us in the last 4 years. John has a very secure position at VMI, we own an adorable little home that is perfect for us, we have an awesome church family, and we have a wonderful ministry with the chapel. Life couldn’t be better, right? How could we give all that up to go into an uncertain future? How can we walk away from all of that to move into a situation where there are no jobs so far, no home, no church, and no ministry. The answer… because God has told us to.
Philip was faced with a similar situation as described in the book of Acts. He had an amazing ministry in Samaria. His preaching was so powerful that the entire city was affected, yet when God called him to leave – he left. Jim and Elisabeth Elliot were also asked to leave behind a comfortable life in America to go and share the gospel with savages in the jungle. They went. Philip gave up his ministry. The Elliot’s gave up their comfort. But in doing so they gained Christ and a “God perspective.”
Life is not about us and our plans. It never has been. From the beginning of time life has always been about God and His plan for our world. People assume that being obedient to God’s calling on your life will always mean that good things will happen. But, the Elliot’s obedience meant death for Jim (he was murdered with 4 of his friends by the very men they were there to share Christ’s love with) and it meant widowhood for Elisabeth who had a 10 month old daughter. Philip didn’t have a life of comfort and ease either. He was constantly traveling (by foot) to share the gospel with whoever would listen. This meant he was at the mercy of others to feed him and give him shelter (I have a feeling that he went without often).
Our obedience is always worth it. God has a plan that is beyond our comprehension. He was able to bring an entire tribe of Indians to faith in his Son through Jim Elliot’s death. They saw the courage and faithfulness of the wives that stayed and forgave their husbands killers, and they wanted to learn more about why these women were the way they were. The gospel of Christ was spread all over the Middle East because of Philip’s faithful obedience. Jesus Christ himself lived a life of surrender to God’s will which never meant a life of ease. He was ridiculed, mocked, tortured, and crucified. Yet he completed the perfect will of his Father so that we all might gain Christ. God is always glorified through our obedience, and yes, even our “loss”.
For ourselves, we must count the cost. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 My prayer is that I would be so excited about God’s plans and His desire to include me in them that I would give no thought to my own comfort, financial security, or personal gain. I wish to only gain Christ all my days.
“The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.”
(spoken long after her husband was martyred)