|Reaching Out To Others|
Lisa Barry: Do you ever wonder how much of your life is wasted by sulking? When I was in my teens and early twenties, it seemed every other month I was sobbing on the couch, listening to all my Barry Manilow records. Oh, how he reminded me of the misery of my existence and how wonderful life would be if I could just find true love. I often wonder how different my attitude would have been if I would have concentrated on reaching out to others rather than into my own misery--getting out of ourselves and into the expectation of what God wants to do in our lives. That's the focus today on Gateway To Joy.
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says, "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, continuing my talks on the trials of singleness. A trial is a test. Singleness is one of those tests that many of my listeners are enduring right now. If you're anything like I was in school, you didn't look forward to tests or exams. But they are necessary.
I want to read a long passage for you from the Book of Romans. This is one of those passages that we need to hear over and over again. It's Romans 8, starting with verse 5.
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."
I've read you some wonderful letters from people who had turned over the controls to God Himself. They were no longer allowing themselves to be controlled by their sinful natures and by the ideas that the world would plant in our minds about what success really is. There are so many women who feel as though they are worthless. They're not worthy of being married, because God has never given them a husband, and so they feel pretty angry with God.
"Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however," Paul says, and he's talking to the Roman Christians, "are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."
Now there's a test. If you're wondering about your own position with God, are you saved or are you not saved, are you a Christian or are you not, here's a good test: "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who lives in you.
"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature to live according to that. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship and by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"
"Abba," is the Aramaic name for father. "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory."
Do you think Jesus Christ does not share in the suffering of singleness? He was single when He was a man here on earth. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet He was without sin. If we share in His sufferings, we may also share in His glory.
Verse 18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed, for the creation was subjected to frustration not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God."
I love that passage. My imagination goes bananas thinking about the liberation of creation from its bondage. The whole creation is going to be brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Do you understand how that's going to be? Neither do I, but I know it's going to be wonderful beyond our imaginings.
Now, I have a beautiful letter from a woman who finds joy in mothering other people's children. She's a single woman. She said, "I find that there are a couple of factors that would add to all the nonsense" and I'm paraphrasing here "about singleness."
But then this is what she says, "Firstly, the rise of the feminist movement has made many women very aggressive and domineering. I've seen men literally run away. I was on the beginning of this in my early 20's, being determined that no man was going to dominate me. I praise the Lord I was rescued from that as I went into Christian ministry and could see how a Christian marriage should and does work.
"I do believe that the rise in feminism has contributed to the rapid rise of homosexual activity. Men haven't fought for their rights, but have turned to other men. It's more peaceful that way. The only marriageable men around, particularly in Christian circles, are really, well, I just couldn't marry them.
"I try to encourage my friends to be whole people on their own and to allow the Lord to take care of their needs. If they're lonely and empty before marriage, they will continue to be so after. I know many lonely, unhappy married people, especially those who married out of desperation.
"For myself, I am perfectly content. I have a very full and happy life. In my singleness, I am able to care more for the Lord, I can please myself where I spend my time and with whom, I am free to be Auntie to lots of kids, and I am.
"Yes, there are times when you'd like someone special just for you, or someone to work with together with a common purpose. But there's nothing perfect this side of heaven, and I just determined to be a part of other couples' lives and their children. I have one family that when I visit I somehow manage to take over. I bathe the children, read stories, clean teeth, etc., and tuck them into bed.
"A friend of theirs was visiting one day, and noticed me and said to Sue, 'Who's that? How come she just takes over?' Sue said, 'Oh, we love it. When Pam arrives, we don't do a thing with the children. The kids love the change as well.' If only I could talk some of my friends into doing this as well.
"Incidentally, I ski with this family for two weeks each year and I take an equal responsibility with the children, which gives Sue and Greg a break and allows me some mothering as well."
Well, I'm so grateful for the single women who find joy in being single and reach out to mother other people's children. You know, there are some pretty desperate mothers out there, who would welcome anything that you single people would do for their children. Come and read them a story. Help them brush their teeth or take their baths and help them to put them to bed or take them out. Take them to the park or take them for a ride someplace.
Amy Carmichael was a single woman. She believed--before she was even twenty years old--that God was going to ask her to remain single for the rest of her life, not dreaming why God wanted that. But of course the "whys," are not our business. She found out when she became the mother of hundreds of Indian children. God does know what He is doing. God gives us good things.
"No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." If you are walking uprightly and God has not given you what you think is a good thing, called marriage, it's because God knows that for you it would not be a good thing. Psalm 107:9 says, "He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good."
"Enough that He who made can fill the soul,
Here and hereafter, till its deeps o'erflow.
Enough that love and tenderness control our fate,
Where'er in joy or doubt we go.
O Giver of each perfect gift,
This day our daily bread supply,
While from the Spirit's tranquil depths we drink
Unfailing drafts of joy."
Have you received God's perfect gift for today? Have you said, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth [and in me] as it is in heaven"?
Dr. John Smith said, "The best way for a man rightly to enjoy himself is to maintain a universal, ready and cheerful compliance with the divine and uncreated will in all things. As knowing that nothing can issue and flow forth from the fountain of goodness, but that which is good.
"Therefore, a good man is never offended with any divine dispensation. Nor hath he any reluctancy against that will, that dictates and determines all things by an eternal rule of goodness. As knowing that there is an unbounded and almighty love, that without any disdain or envy freely communicates itself to all that He has made. That always enfolds those in His everlasting arms, who are made partakers of His own image, perpetually nourishing and cherishing them with the fresh and vital influences of His grace."
Lisa Barry: And with that, we bring today's program to a close. I hope you found a challenge for your own life from this series. Maybe you'd like to share the challenge with someone else. How about a gift at graduation time? If so, I'd suggest the book Passion and Purity. It's the love story of Elisabeth and her first husband Jim Elliot. But it's much more than just a love story. It's got practical, scriptural principles that you'll see lived out by young adults. It's great inspiration for readers and non-readers alike! The cost of the book is $12.50, and you can purchase it by sending that amount along with your request to:
Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. That's Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or toll-free 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Our Internet address is gatewaytojoy.org.
Gateway To Joy has been a listener-supported production of Back to the Bible. Tomorrow, Elisabeth shares a few closing thoughts about the trials of singleness, so I hope you'll join us then for the next Gateway To Joy.