Angst & Elliot

I’m feeling angsty today.

It might be that I’m listening to Patty Griffin.

It might be that I just finished re-reading Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity.

It might be that I’m in an airplane thousands of feet above the earth.Jim-ElisabethWedding

Traveling always does a little something to my insides. It’s like it gives me room to step out of my life for just a moment and view it from an entirely different angle, and I love the reflection, I love the angst and consideration of it all.

I get to just sit here and look out the window and imagine all the different souls scurrying about so many thousands of feet below. I like the contrast of the glorious stillness of the clouds against the backdrop of all the busyness happening in those minds so far below.

Up here, it’s easier to believe that Jesus is real. It’s easier to want to give Him everything. It’s crazy to imagine getting distracted and tangled up in the temporary.

That’s probably the Passion and Purity influence speaking.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  It’s crazy.  Elisabeth says crazy things.  But it’s such a shift from how I view the world that the craziness is refreshing.

It’s the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot’s courtship. (I use that word because I feel confident that they would. Crazy kids.)

Whenever I read it I always find myself reading out loud to my friends some passages of letters that Jim and Elisabeth wrote to each other. Everything is so intense; so angsty and dramatic!

Part of me wishes I could just call them up all those years ago and be like: guys! Just be together already! Just relax, get to know each other and date. Every tiny decision doesn’t have to be so tortured and weighed out.

But I wonder if maybe it did have to be that way for them.

Six years after they met Jim Elliot would give his life as a martyr for Christ and Elisabeth Elliot would risk her own life and the life of their baby to take the Gospel to his murderers.

In my angst up here above the clouds I wonder: when did we start believing that we can be so complacent and untrusting in the small things, but that somehow we will choose faithfulness and radical life when the big things come.

Maybe God asks for faithfulness in the small, because that is where radical begins.

Maybe the way I view my love life is a chance to be radical.

Maybe the fight to set my face like flint to the cause of Christ, even if it results in singleness or missing out on some temporal fun – is a radical decision that is going to prepare my heart for a day when setting my face like flint to the cause of Christ will cost me more than a husband, or disapproval.

Down there, on the ground, life feels so…big. It crowds everything out and all I can see is the mundane details of the day casting huge shadows of anxiety on everything. I get lost in the details: what will I eat for dinner? Do those people like me? Was I misunderstood in that conversation? Will I find love?

Hear me: I do not think these are small questions.

I guess I’m arguing instead that they are the radical things; that the way we handle them is how we learn to live radical lives.

I’m not convinced that a radical life will find us in the glory of the Mission Field unless we find it first in the dirty diapers and stewarding money and integrity in our words.

Maybe Jim Elliot was weird and crazy to consider dating a girl with such caution  as if it could have ruined his whole life.

Or maybe he was just desperate to honor God and unafraid of missing out.

Either way, I think those years of obsessively pursuing faithfulness in the details produced the kind of faith and trust it takes to lower your weapon when the very people you are ministering to are running toward you to take your life.

I think Elisabeth would say that in those years of surrendering something as seemingly simple as a date, God cultivated in her the heart that would walk into a jungle, with her daughter in her hands to share the love of Christ with her husbands’ murderers.

6 thoughts on “Angst & Elliot

  1. Fabs! Okay I know I comment on like every post, but this is EXACTLY what I feel like the Lord has been teaching me in the last couple weeks. So cool.

  2. I stumbled upon your website this evening an was so blessed by your article. It was just what I needed to hear this evening. God used it to speak to me, reminding me of the importance of being obedient even in the things that seem small, and being obedient IMMEDIATELY when the Holy Spirit nudges. It’s so easy to make exceptions in those “little things.”

  3. Love this! And a great reminder of the importance to be faithful in the little things – because in reality, it’s all the little things that make a life…

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