Bridge of Blood

January 8th, 1956 – Death of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully by Auca spears.

About two months ago, I was privileged to act in a small stage production of the play called “Bridge of Blood”. It is based on the story of Jim & Elisabeth Elliot and the four other couples that went with them to minister to the Auca Indians.

The story became much more than a mere “story” in my life through being part of the play. I had known my whole life about the story, I knew it was a true story, it was impacting to hear the way they willingly gave everything to love these unloved people–to give even their very lives, and yet…somehow, it was still “just a story” to me in so many ways.

I remember the first time I heard that Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint, Nate Saint’s sister, had gone back to the tribe that mercilessly killed their husband and brother. I was astounded that they would go back. They faced evil with the love of Jesus, and His name was glorified in that tribe. Some of the men who committed the murders became mighty preachers of the gospel and said that they couldn’t wait to go to heaven to be able to thank the men they killed for being willing to give their lives to share the grace of God with them. What love is this! What a mighty God is this!

I played the part of Barbara Youderian in the play, and personally felt the grief as I watched “Roger” unknowingly, but willingly, go to his death for the sake of Christ. Before the men departed from the mission house to head out to meet up with the Aucas, they gathered together with their wives and sang We Rest On Thee.

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.

Yes, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear Name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

Tears filled my eyes when we sang this song together as we knelt on that stage, knowing what was next, feeling the grief already, …I can’t properly describe how real it all became. The faith and trust they had in God became tangible, the wives and the struggles and strengths they went through in releasing their husbands to the care of a mighty and trustworthy God was brought blatantly before me. The reality that God WAS and IS mighty and trustworthy–even though I already knew the end of the story, and it wasn’t what they were expecting.

I stood in center stage and chokingly read these lines from the pages of Barbara Youderian’s journal:

Tonight the captain told us of finding the bodies in the river. God gave me this verse two days ago. Psalm 48:14, “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” As I came face-to-face with the news of Rog’s death, my heart was filled with praise. He was worthy of his homegoing. Help me, Lord, to be both mommy and daddy. I’ve explained to Beth that Daddy is now in heaven living with Jesus, but she can’t understand why he won’t come down and play with her once in a while. I wrote a letter to the mission family, trying to explain the peace I have. I want to be free of self-pity. It is a tool of Satan to rot away a life. The Lord has closed our hearts to grief and hysteria and filled them with His perfect peace.

Is this my response to grief and horror? Horror beyond what I can even imagine, and her words are “as I came face-to-face with [my husband’s] death, my heart was filled with praise. He was worthy of his homegoing.” This is obviously an outflow from a heart filled with God–to praise in the face of calamity, to immediately be on guard from self pity, to be filled with His perfect peace. Oh Jesus, You are good!

Their grief was real, the pain was real, and reality of being widows after barely being married at all was real, the horror was real–I’m not trying to diminish any of that. But Jesus was there in the midst of it! The Lord and all of who He is is real. He does not leave us comfortless, He comes to us. What joy, what trust!

“I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy into it. Maybe He’ll send me someplace where the name of Jesus Christ is unknown. Jim, I’m taking the Lord at His word, and I’m trusting Him to prove His Word. It’s kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket, but we’ve already put our trust in Him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned?” -taken from a letter Ed McCully wrote to Jim Elliot in 1950

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.” – Jim Elliot

No Will But Thine

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Jesus, ’tis my aim divine,
Hence to have no will but Thine,
Let me covenant with Thee,
Thine for evermore to be:
This my prayer, and this alone, 
Saviour, let Thy will be done!

Thee to love, to live to Thee,
This my daily portion be,
Nothing to my Lord I give,
But from Him I first receive:
Lord, for me Thy blood was spilt,
Lead me, guide me, as Thou wilt.

All that is opposed to Thee,
Howsoever dear it be,
From my heart the idol tear,
Thou shalt have no rival there,
Only Thou shalt fill the throne:
Saviour, let Thy will be done.

Wilt thou, Lord, in me fulfil
All the pleasure of Thy will;
Thine in life, and Thine in death,
Thine in every fleeting breath,
Thou my hope and joy alone:
Saviour, let Thy will be done.

-Octavius Winslow

—Octavius Winslow

…dust, bullet points, and rejoicing.

Excuse me for a moment while I wipe the immense layers of dust off of this blog. Whew–it sure has been awhile!

I’m not going to go into great detail about anything at this point, but out of politeness to the three blog readers I might still have, I’ll do a brief summary of a few things that have taken place in the past year…that way it’ll all be out of the way, and I can hopefully move forward with other things.

June 2013 was the last time I wrote, it looks like…ok…

– I had exploratory surgery a year ago and am much, much better than I was previously! Still room for improvement, but I am just so incredibly grateful for the faithfulness of the Lord through all of this!

This happened.

– Little Sister is officially a McConnaughey as of a year ago, and it’s been fantastic. Adoption is a beautiful, challenging, eye-opening, and refining thing–and boy, does it preach the Gospel to me loudly every single day. I’m faced with the truth of my adoption into Christ every day in ways that I’ve never even considered before–and the love that He has for us? I can’t even comprehend.

Well…that was fast. I’ve run out of bullet points. I just don’t know what else to list about the past year and a half–it’s been long and yet SO very fast. It’s been a time of learning to rejoice. I was talking with my roommate the other evening (while we were digging through a Christmas tree lot dumpster after dark with a flashlight) about how I think the word “rejoice” really sums up the last year for me (the last two years, even?) Learning to have a true, deep, abiding joy…all the time. Not merely because of things that happen to me that my human self terms as “good” and thus I respond by rejoicing that God loves me–there’s definitely a place for that. But, I’m talking about rejoicing because of knowing my God and His goodness all the timeKnowing His utter faithfulness. Knowing His complete inability to fail. Knowing that He has never proven Himself anything but everything-good-and-perfect-and-right-and-pure that our little minds can even begin to comprehend.

….and I think that’s an excellent note to end on.

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(So, hopefully I’ll be updating this blog a little more regularly now–look for posts on Jesus, life, painting, and various other things that may happen to come along!)

One Year Later

One year ago this week, I got really sick. Throughout the year, I’ve only gotten worse physically. It’s *hard* to live one day to the next right now.

“But! I don’t like to think about it in those terms. I don’t like to think about most things in the way that us earthly beings normally think about things… ;) God’s way of thinking is much better! So, instead I dwell on the fact that I’ve had a year of intense training of what it is to be utterly dependent on God for every step of the way. I’ve had a year of getting to clearly see HIS strength, because I have none of my own, and yet each day is a miracle when I can get out of bed and function somewhat normally. I’ve had a year of learning what it is to glorify God in every aspect of my life, regardless of situation or how *I* think my life should look.”

(I wrote the above in an email to a blog reader, and it was such a joy to realize the beauty that comes even in such hard times as these. Thank you, Jesus!)

Even In The Details

I was intrigued at some connections I made the other day.

I was thinking about my little sister and all the years of her life that we missed. I was thinking back to specific times in her life and wondering what our family was doing at that point. So often it can just be a vague “Oh yeah…in that month of that year, we lived in that yellow house!” But I was wishing that I could know exactly what I was doing at certain times in her little life.

And then I realized something beautiful–

I know the date that I surrendered my life to the Lord, and it was such a time in my life that I will never forget. I remember the day and the days shortly thereafter in extremely vivid detail.

My little sister was born in Haiti two days after I surrendered my life to the Lord in a little town in Washington, USA. I remember exactly what I was doing the day she was born!

And then I realized something else–

One of the other most vivid memories of my life is the day I left for Africa. It took two days of travel to get there, and they are days that I absolutely will never forget. The details of nearly every hour of those two days (and the ones after!) are etched on my heart and mind with astounding clarity.

The exact date that I was enroute to Africa is the exact date that my little sister was being picked up at the orphanage in Haiti and getting on a plane to the USA. I know exactly what I was doing on one of the biggest days of her life!

It has been such a gift to me (and the rest of my family, too, since they remember these dates just as much as I do!) to be able to look back and have correlations between my life and hers…even way back then.

It was nearly three years after that date that we first met her and brought her to her forever home. And, it’s been just a few days over two months since she came to be part of our family, and what a two months this has been! :) I know it’s cliche, but… I can’t imagine life without this beautiful little girl!

An Outward Focus

(Reposted from December 2010)

***

Do you ever feel like you’re caught in a trap of self-focus? You really want to serve and be outward focused, but…you just can’t seem to figure out how to get out of the rut you’re in?

Do you ever get tired of living a life that is filled with selfish pleasures? Do you ever feel like there must be something more out there than just pursuing things that make you feel good and that you enjoy?

I have. I do.

My life is not my own. But sometimes I am faced with a cold, hard fact–I spend a lot of time pursuing me.

Perhaps this is because, in a lot of ways, just pursuing ourselves and our own pleasures is the easy road. It’s easy. It’s fairly effortless–and any effort that does need put into it is worth it to ourselves because we benefit personally from the outcome. It’s fun and pleasurable–at least on a superficial level. It masquerades as being fulfilling.

I’m mortified at the amount of time I have spent in my life pursuing my own fulfillment, my own desires, my own pleasure, my own longings. Me. I feel like I have wasted so much of my time and my life on the wrong pursuits–even while declaring that I was pursuing my Saviour. Even while saying my biggest longing was to be poured-out for Him. Even in the midst of proclaiming Him as my all in all.

Forgive me, God.

I grieve at who I’ve been . . . at what I’ve turned my back on. God has called me to be His hands and feet–how have I fulfilled this command?

God has convicted me on this matter. Sweet, sweet conviction. Painful, yes. But sweet in the realization that God has moved in me and caused me to see myself for who I am–He has opened my eyes to see where I’ve plateaued. How I’ve become calloused and apathetic. And, in that eye-opening, He has claimed an utter jealousy over me yet again. He desires my all.

I desire Him as my all. I long for Him.

I am turning from that selfish lifestyle. It is not a lifestyle which promotes Jesus. It is not a life which glorifies the King.

I cannot live for myself and for God.

A choice must be made, and it is with utter joy and shouting from the rooftops that I declare my choice for You, my Jesus! I am filled with an overwhelming love for You, and I cannot keep silent about it! I look at myself and my own fleshly self, and I have absolutely no desire to cultivate a relationship with me anymore. I want to be completely lost in You!

I choose to turn from pursuing me, and my own wishes and desires. All that You have given me–every faculty, every breath, every day, everything–I employ in Your service. Serving You through serving the least. Using the great abundance that I have been given to bring You glory. I have no desire to please myself . . . I have every desire to please You, my King!

God has challenged me– How much of myself can I truly pour out for others? How much time can I spend seeking to bring joy to another? And, through serving others, to know my God more intimately?

How much time can I spend not pursuing me?

Of myself, I can do none of this. I could make a good effort–I could take a few stabs at not focusing on myself, but it would mean nothing. It wouldn’t stick. It would be done out of self-righteousness. God has placed in me a deep desire to live outside of my own wants and pleasures. He has called me to this, and He will equip. And, let me tell you, I’m plain-out thrilled to see how He will continue to lead me in this path!

This is a lifestyle change. I realize that right now, and I know I will realize it afresh time and time again. This isn’t a lifestyle that our earthly selves want to pursue. But I have exciting new: my life is not my own! This is the life I want to pursue! This is the life I choose to pursue!

The God of the universe died for the world–for me. How can I not honestly spill my very life out in pursuing this God?–through a life of worship, a life of prayer, a life of service, a life of adoration. A life lived with an outward focus.

I invite each of you reading this to ponder this and carefully consider this truth in your own life. It has been deeply impacting and convicting to me, and yes, life-changing. This is not something that only takes place by moving overseas and starting a ministry in a foreign land. It isn’t some vague and nebulous “out there” thing that you’re praying about pursuing. This lifestyle takes place right now, right where you are. Every moment of every day. It’s a choice. It’s a life in Christ.

This is not something that God has challenged only me to pursue. If you claim Him as your King and Saviour, this is what He’s asking of you, too. Will you accept this challenge with me?

Do not choose this path out of a desire to have a good list of “works”. Do not choose this because of backward selfish ideas. Do not choose this path for any other reason than because this is what God has called you to. You were created to fulfill a purpose–that of bringing glory to God! And what a glorious calling it is!

Looking unto HIM and REJOICING

I just wanted to clarify about my last post…. (And spend some more time praising the Lord, because . . . how can I not? ;) )

Though my earthly body may be decaying (aren’t we all?), I am in Christ and being renewed day by day IN HIM. There is no worry or fear in my life–there cannot be, because that is not walking in the light. And where God is, there can be no darkness for He cannot dwell with darkness.

I am walking forward in full faith and the knowledge of Truth. I want to give no room to the enemy by placing any importance or headline space to that which is not true, pure, right, clean, praise-worthy, virtuous, of good report, and full of Jesus.

Rejoice, my friends, for we have hope. We have Light. We have Life…and that more abundantly! And again, I say, rejoice!

LIVING in HIM,
Grace