Elisabeth Elliot on Waiting

I might have poured my heart out on the blog the other day. As I was cleaning up a stack of books, I came across one of my favorite books, A Path through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot. In the book was a piece of paper. I’m not sure what this is from – other than a brief title of “Waiting – Elisabeth Elliot”- but it spoke to me with where I am.

Waiting requires patience – a willingness calmly to accept what we have or have not, where we are or where we wish we were, whomever we live or work with.

To want what we don’t have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God.

A spirit of resistance cannot wait on God. I believe it is this spirit which is the reason for some of our greatest sufferings. Opposing the workings of the Lord in and through our “problems” only exacerbates them. It is here and now that we must win our victories or suffer defeats. Spiritual victories are won in the quiet acceptance of ordinary events, which are God’s “bright servants,” standing all around us.

Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. “Peace I leave with you; I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27, NEB). What sort of peace has He to give us? A peace which was constant in the midst of ceaseless work (with few visible results), frequent interruptions, impatient demands, few physical comforts; a peace which was not destroyed by the arguments, the faithlessness, and hatred of the people. Jesus had perfect confidence in His Father, whose will He had come to accomplish. Nothing touched Him without His Father’s permission. Nothing touches me without my Father’s permission. Can I not then wait patiently? He will show the way.

If I am willing to be still in my Master’s hand, can I not then be still in everything? He’s got the whole world in His hands! Never mind whether things come from God Himself or from people — everything comes by His ordination or permission. If I mean to be obedient and submissive to the Lord because He is my Lord, I must not forget whatever He allows to happen becomes, for me, HI swill at that moment. Perhaps it is someone else’s sinful action, but if God allows it to affect me, He wills it for my learning. The need to wait is, for me, a form of chastening. God has to calm me down, make me shut up and look to Him for the outcome.

His message to me every day
Is wait, be still, trust, and obey.

“This, then, is of faith, that everything, the very least, or what seems to us great, every change of the seasons, everything which touches us in mind, body, or estate, whether brought about through this outward senseless nature, or by the will of man, good or bad, is overruled to each of us by the all-holy and all-loving will of God. Whatever befalls us, however it befalls us, we must receive as the will of God. If it befalls us through man’s negligence, or ill-will, or anger, still it is, in even the least circumstance, to us the will of God. For if the least thing could happen to us without God’s permission, it would be something out of God’s control. God’s providence or His love would not be what they are. Almighty God Himself would not be the same God; not the God whom we believe, adore, and love” (E.B. Pusey, 1800-19982)

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Just Feed One

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

(Mother Theresa)

Photo courtesy of L. Miles, 2012

This quote haunts me. In all reality, you (as one individual) can’t fix the orphan crisis. Or hunger in the world. You can’t solve global poverty for everyone. Or provide a family for every child. So often we use this logic to excuse ourselves from doing anything. As if an inability to solve problems that have plagued the world since sin destroyed Eden means that we should refrain from trying to do something at all. But we can make a difference for at least one person.

We can hug one child who feels like they have been forgotten.

We can visit, come home, and advocate for the vulnerable.

You can sponsor a child to make sure they have access to food, education, and health care.

You can provide formula to an infant, who may otherwise become malnourished in a developing country.

You can adopt one (or two, or three, or more) children to be part of your family.

We do not have an excuse to do nothing because we cannot do everything.

 

So, what are you doing to “feed one”?

 

A Fundamental Change

Before Africa.

I think I remember my world before Africa. Some days it feels like a shadow, like a dream that I awoke from.

I believe my world was smaller. I believe it was more about me. I think even though I believed in justice, it wasn’t something that kept me up at night.

I remember that.

All that changed the moment I stood on African soil. The moment I looked into deep brown eyes and felt hands so quickly grab mine own. The moment I really saw what “fatherless” really meant. The moment that I understood poverty, not from a statistic, but putting rice in a bowl to serve to a child. The moment we decided that we meant to parent first through adoption.

Here’s the secret they don’t tell you about mission trips or adoption: It creates a fundamental change in your world. It causes you to lose sleep over the fact that there is significant injustice in our world. It causes you to wonder what you can do to be part of the change in our world. There’s a critical change that you experience that reorients your world.

All those verses about justice? They make sense.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah

Thus says the LORD,
“Preserve justice and do righteousness,
For My salvation is about to come
And My righteousness to be revealed”
Isaiah

Thus says the LORD, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
Jeremiah

When we had the opportunity to give our adoption testimony at church, the worship leader led the church in “The Solution” by Hillsong United. It was the first time that I heard that song. I was absolutely mesmerized by the lyrics (which was a bit of a challenge right before we had the opportunity to speak…). It reminded me that I can’t just sit idly by and not make a difference anymore. Now that I know, I am responsible.

This honestly keeps me up at night. The idea that by virtue of “luck”, I was born in the U.S. does not excuse me from not doing something about the basic inequality that exists in this world that we share with 7 billion other people. As one of my heroes once wrote,

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – MLK, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

There’s no good reason that 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. (Global Poverty Project)

There’s no good reason that since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, almost 60 million people have been infected with
HIV and 25 million people have died of HIV-related causes. There’s no good reason for there to be 14 million orphans due to HIV/AIDS. (With anti-retroviral medications, HIV/AIDS is considered a chronic, but manageable disease. These deaths are now inexcusable.) (UNAIDS)

There’s no good reason why 3.5 million people should die due to water related disease. (Water.org)

There’s no good reason why we continue to allow an estimated 1.2 million children to be trafficked every year are a victims of sexual abuse or slavery. (Love146)

Because where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.

If these sorts of statistics keep you up at night also, check out any of these organizations and help fight injustice:

World Vision
Lifesong for Orphans
Brighton Their World
Love146
Charity Water

(This list is not exhaustive by any means- there are many other great organizations out there as well!)

That last mile

I know I don’t look like it, but I used to run. It was back in grad school when I (amazingly) had more time for stuff like that than I do now. I remember that I could give myself a pep talk about running for the first mile and it would feel good. But the last mile? I h a t e d  it. That dreaded last mile is so very painful and you just want it to end as quickly as possible. But of course, you don’t have the energy to make it end more quickly. Instead it drags out. It took every ounce of strength to be motivated just to make it back to my apartment.

The last mile is always the hardest. In all reality, you know you have the strength to do it, but in the moment, when you’re dealing with cramps, muscle fatigue, and sweat, you don’t think that you actually do. You want to quit.

I’m there right now. We are on the last mile. Don’t get me wrong – I know we can do this. I know we will do this. But sometimes I start to feel doubt creeping in. Like, as hard as we try, we’ll never actually make it. If I could fast-forward through all the painful steps, the figurative cramps and fatigue, I would. I know that’s not the positive “We can do this!” that I should be putting out into cyberspace. But this is where I am.
On the last mile.

I know we haven’t had to endure the wait that most families have. That’s a blessing and a curse. Because I’m so excited that I can barely contain myself. I can’t wait to hold Baby Shows in my arms. And I know that will be very soon.

Until then, we will push through. We will get this done. It will take perseverance. Endurance. It will take willpower that I didn’t know we had.

And then Baby Shows will be home. Forever.

So here is my last mile pep talk:

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” Walter Elliot

~*~

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run withendurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” – The Author of Hebrews

~*~

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” – Paul to the believers in Rome

~*~

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams

~*~

“If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”-Samuel Johnson

~*~

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Reprove the ruthless. Defend the orphan. Plead for the widow.” – Isaiah

~*~

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James

A memorial stone for faith

It’s almost been one year since we started really pursuing our adoption. It’s crazy to think where we were last year. We had so little money to put toward this adoption. We weren’t really in a place where expanding our family was logical. But the calling was clear. Pursue it this year.

So we started on the path of adoption.

And we had doors we thought we were supposed to go through that closed.

Then we had to seek God again – “We did hear You, right? This is the path You called us to walk…right?”

When I think about the particular moment – the moment when Ethiopia didn’t work out for us – my heart still breaks. I was so certain that Baby Shows was in Ethiopia. I was prepared for the long wait (it was more logical for us anyway). It didn’t make sense to me. And I wanted to be a momma so desperately.

But if we had tried to force our idea of what God wanted for us, we would have missed Baby Shows. Because Baby Shows was in an entirely different African nation. One that we weren’t expecting, honestly. And I can’t tell you (yet) all the things that happened since we submitted our application, but I can tell you October was the reason we were supposed to walk the path that He placed us on. October 4 will remain one of those days that we will never forget. His plan was there all along. Hidden from us until that moment.

Now we are in 2012. God has amazing things for us this year. This is the year we hope to become a family of three.

Yet a mountain stands between us and that point. Last Friday, I was defeated. I couldn’t see how it was possible. I wavered in my faith.

What does it look like to have faith?

Although my husband is someone of great faith, I am not. I tend to timidity and fear (and a lot of “What ifs?!”). So this whole journey has been a long exercise of faith. And what I’ve learned is this.

Faith is a choice. It’s not a feeling.

There have been many moments where I don’t feel like I should believe. There have been many moments that when I look at the evidence, I shouldn’t believe. Because it is impossible by all earthly means.

But faith is a choice. It’s a choice to see what’s there and believe what isn’t. It’s a choice to believe despite all evidence to the contrary. The adoption is the first time in my entire life I have truly lived Hebrews 11:1 (The Amplified Version):

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Faith is something that only grows when challenged. Like a muscle, faith develops from a weight that tears the fibers apart so they can heal and become stronger. “Our faith grows the strongest on the sides of steep slopes where there’s less to cling to.”

 tree on the edge(Photo courtesy of craigcloutier on Flickr)

 

We ended up on a completely different timeline, one that has been incredibly quick. Even in this, God has been faithful in every step. Every single step. He has taught me what is meant by our “daily bread.” It seems that every need has been bigger than the funds we have personally. But we haven’t had a cost go unpaid. The funds we need are there exactly when we need them. Our friends have given sacrificially to help us bring Baby Shows home.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude that so many people have been faithful in the love of our heavenly Father, whose heart is for the Fatherless. And all of you have a beautiful part in our child’s story. We are so blessed by you.

So, to 2011 was a year of learning to have faith. It was my year to exercise belief.

I’m not sure what 2012 holds, what little gems God has prepared for me. But I know that if God is preparing our steps, whatever 2012 has, it will be ultimately good.

Courage

If I were to take a Wizard of Oz themed personality assessment, I think I would end up as this guy:

I’m smart. And compassionate. And already home.

So that leave the one thing I feel like I lack: courage. I’m not brave. I’m not scared of everything, but definitely of certain things.

Courage is one thing I seek.

So as I’ve been praying for God’s will about something, I’ve also been asking for courage. Whatever it needs to look like for me. Courage to stand up for myself. Courage to stand up for others. Courage to stand up against my biggest fears.

And what I’ve determined to be the problem with courage is that it is one of those things that comes with practice. You don’t all of a sudden get courage to do something. You are scared out of your mind to do something, but you do it anyway. Isn’t that courage? Doing something despite your fear of it?

But as a believer, I’m taking assurance in knowing that I don’t have to go it alone. Aside from my awesome husband, I have the privilege of knowing that God is with me in all things:

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

 

So here I am.

Asking God for courage.

And I know that He’s going to give me opportunities to be courageous.

Whatever they might look like.

Walk on the Water

I am fascinated by the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus, as evidenced by this post and this post (and possibly one other post that I can’t see to find and I’ve now blogged so much that I don’t feel like going through all my posts to track it down… so a prize to anyone who can find it! And by prize I mean crazy blogging points).

Anyway, as I’ve continued to really seek God about what He’s possibly/maybe/potentially/probably calling me (us) to (again, I submit Evidence A), I can’t help but make the comparison to the moment before Peter steps out of the boat. Now, from the accounts described in the four gospels and Acts, I can imagine Peter is a much bolder person than I am, but still looking at the physically impossible must have intimidated him nonetheless. I might have a much smaller personality and voice, but I’m not so sure that Peter expected Christ to take him up on the “if it’s really you comment.” Heh. I guess we all make that “mistake.”

It’s that first step that is really scary. The first step is the one that is really impossible. It’s always the one that is hold us back. It keeps us from the bigger things that God wants for us: the opportunity to experience the Sovereign, the impossible. So we step out of our boat, our safe known place. Trembling or confidence. In tears or with joy. We step out.

Because, scary as it is, that first step is met with the hand of our God.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

Two more or less random things

Thanks to a friend from college for buying a wristband and sending in a photo! You rock!

Thanks, friend! You're AWESOME!

Support my mission trip by buying a wristband and send a photo of you sporting it (showscarla [at] gmail [dot] com)! 🙂

Also, this post at Elevation Worship really spoke to Evan and me today. We find ourselves in the middle in so many ways right now. But God is faithful.

Good things are found on middle ground. Don’t ever forget that God has you where He needs you. You are there so that He can create something in you that can sustain you once you finally get out of the middle.