Lisa Barry: When faced with a dying loved one, there?s always a temptation to become submerged in it. It seems to be the right thing to do. We justify our actions by thinking that if some breakthrough comes as a result of our fixation, then it will ultimately be for the better. But is that the best method to use when facing this situation? Today on Gateway to Joy, Elisabeth Elliot and her daughter Valerie talk about things they?ve learned from dealing with a dying family member. That person was Elisabeth Elliot?s second husband, Addison Leitch. Let?s join Elisabeth and Valerie now as they relay an important lesson on life and death next.
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, talking again today with my daughter, Valerie Shepard. But I promised that I would tell you a little story in answer to one of Val?s questions. Yesterday she asked me, "What did people do for you that were a great help during (what Val calls) my Daddy?s illness?" She was referring to my second husband, Addison Leitch.
I gave a couple of examples, but Jill Morrie was a young woman whose husband was a seminary student under my husband. Jill and Dave had had a little boy who was born with a very, very serious heart defect. The doctors had made it very clear to the parents that this child could not be operated on until he was four years old, and he might not make it to four years.
Jill said, "After the first year or two, it dawned on me that I was making a career out of my son?s illness." She said to me, "Don?t make a career out of your husband?s illness." I didn?t exactly know what to do about that. But she said, "It dawned on me then that if I was completely preoccupied with my ill child, I would be of no use to anybody else." She said, "I want to be an instrument of God?s peace."
So that was a tremendous lesson to me to realize that even though this was the thing that certainly tempted me to concentrate entirely on my husband?s illness, my own sorrow and all of the work that I had to do in taking care of him at home?and it?d be a great temptation to feel sorry for myself. The remedy for that?the antidote?is to reach out for somebody else.
You know, I have been greatly blessed by some who have been in deep suffering themselves and have helped me. It was during your stepfather?s illness that I was reminded of one of the very things that I remembered from Wheaton chapel. As you remember, we had compulsory chapel at Wheaton College. In my day, it was five days a week. I don?t remember much of anything that all those speakers said during those four years.
But this one I have never forgotten. If your life is broken when given to Jesus, it may be because pieces will feed a multitude when a loaf would satisfy only a little boy. Over the years, I began to realize that piece by piece the Lord had been breaking me, as He broke the bread for the 5,000. If Jesus had not broken the bread and if the disciples had not been willing to distribute the bread, then they wouldn?t have been fed. So I had to remember that just because I was going through a dark tunnel myself, this did not mean that I was exempt from trying to help other people.
Valerie Shepard: Yes. You have said before, Mama, that self-pity is a dead-end street. I?m really learning that. It does me no good, it does my family no good, if I?m feeling sorry for myself. I?m so thankful for the life of my father and the life of my stepfather, as they were only in our lives for such a short time. But you always gave me the confidence, as a child without a father, that my earthly father was in heaven with my Heavenly Father. Then when my stepfather died, again I had this immediate sense of peace that now my stepfather had a perfect, healed, glorified body, when we had been praying so hard for healing on earth, and that he was in heaven with his Heavenly Father. I could be completely at peace, accepting that.
But I would like to read something about death, again from this book JOY AND STRENGTH, that you and I have enjoyed so much by Mary Wilder Tileston. She has quotes from two different people about the people who have gone on to be in heaven. First, she gives two different Scriptures. One is 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which says, "So shall we ever be with the Lord." And Revelation 3:4: "And they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy."
And then a quote from Thomas Carter: "We are taught to believe of the Blessed that they serve Him day and night in His temple, that His servants shall serve Him. And this must be with powers and endowments developed in harmony with higher worlds, so that all the tastes, the desires, the affections, the artistic powers, the intellectual gifts, which belong to each individual, each with his own special capacities, trained and developed and exercised in spiritual modes of life, will be suited to that higher world, where they dwell in the presence of the Almighty God and the Lamb who is in the midst of them. The activities of a condition of life such as we cannot conceive, we shall enter upon, if fitted for it; trained for it by the exercise of our gifts during our life in this world. We shall be like weapons in the hand of God, ready for what service He may will."
And here is a quote about a woman who had had much pain in her life, and yet from her service people could see that there was joy. It says, "For those who live as she did with their whole talents dedicated to God?s service, death is only the gate of life?the path from joyous work in this world to greater capacities and opportunities for it in the other."
As I think of my father and my stepfather in heaven and the joy that they must be experiencing, being in the presence of God, seeing Him face to face, being made like Him, I?ve always had happy thoughts about them. And I?ve even had happy dreams about my own father coming back to life, singing with us, laughing with us, with me and my family. And I?m so thankful for the confidence and trust that you built into me when I was a little girl, teaching me that my earthly father was in heaven and that there was work for him to do.
Elisabeth Elliot: I wonder, Val, if you?ve ever thought about the fact that I have two husbands in heaven, and one of those has a wife up there. People have often thought, "Wow! How are we going to know what our relationships are going to be?" Well, we?re told very little about what those relationships are going to be. We do know that we are like the angels in that they do not marry and they are not given in marriage. That?s about the only thing we know.
All I can imagine is that whatever God?s plan is going to be for all of us, it?s got to be so wonderful, so unspeakably far beyond anything that we can imagine here in this life, that there?s no way that God could have explained it to us in the Scriptures. He didn?t think we needed to know all that. It would be like telling a little child six months in advance what he is going to get for Christmas. We wouldn?t have been able to keep our minds on our business. That?s one reason, I think, that He just hasn?t given us anymore descriptions of what heaven is.
But the Book of Revelation, for any of you listeners who might want to know what the Bible really does say about what heaven is like?that?s the book to read. It?s the very last book in the Bible. And it?s thrilling. It?s wonderful. What joys we have to look forward to.
Valerie Shepard: I have one other reading from this JOY AND STRENGTH book about people who have gone on before into heaven. "Death has no bidding to divide the souls that dwell in Thee. Yes, all who in the Lord abide are of one family."
Then this quote from Henry Edward Manning: "Will not our own lamented and beloved be there in the array of happy spirits? Will they not hail our coming with delight? Do they not remember us now, even in the sight of God? For to see His face does not extinguish, but perfect, all holy loves. God?s love gathers up and perfects all pure love like His own?all love that is for His sake. When we meet our beloved in Him, we shall both know and love them so as we have neither loved or known before."
And then one more quote from Samuel Rutherford. He is speaking of a particular woman who had died. "She is not sent away, but only sent before, like unto a star, which going out of our sight, doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere. Ye see her not; yet she doth shine in another country."
I really can say that because my father and stepfather have gone on before, I look forward not just because I will meet them again, but I look forward to the joy of heaven with all of the saints?to think of all of the saints giving glory and praise to God all the time, singing "Holy, holy, holy" and doing His work. We have no idea what kind of work He gives to us, but that makes me look forward to heaven.
Elisabeth Elliot: When Lars and I were driving in the car just the other day, we put in a Norwegian tape. It?s a bunch of men singing just in Norwegian. So Lars had the little card that went along with it that had the Norwegian words. So I?m trying to read the words and sing them with these men in Norwegian, although of course I don?t know more than about ten words in Norwegian.
But there?s one that we love?I think it?s probably our favorite. It says something about how wonderful heaven is going to be. But each line is repeated with "But I want to see the Savior first of all. I want to see my Savior first of all." How wonderful it is going to be to be face to face with Christ our Savior.
And Fanny Crosby, who was blind from the time she was six weeks old?she wrote many hymns speaking about how wonderful it was going to be to see Jesus. Now what does a blind person know about seeing anything? They cannot possibly have any concept of what it is to see something, and yet she had this deep conviction that this was going to be the most wonderful thing. There?s no doubt about that in my mind, either.
Well, I?m so happy to have had you here today, Val. Thank you for being with us.
Valerie Shepard: You?re welcome.
Lisa Barry: Well, the only Norwegian words I can think of right now are lefse and lutefisk. I?ve eaten plenty of the first and none of the latter, thank you very much. Well, I hope you?ve enjoyed the visits with Valerie this week. What a rich heritage both she and Elisabeth have! It?s something that was handed down from generation to generation because it was lived out in daily life. That?s why we talk so much about personal devotional times. Many of us would like to live in the center of God?s will but don?t make time to sit at His feet and learn from Him.
If you?d like to make a concerted effort in this area for 1999, then let me suggest a great devotional entitled JOY AND STRENGTH. It won?t replace your Bible, but will go alongside it to keep your thoughts focused on what is good, right, noble, trustworthy and all the rest.
The cost for this book is $11.50. To order, you can send that amount, along with your request, to Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free: 1-800-759-4JOY. Or you can access our website at gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway to Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible and is supported by the faithful gifts of people like you.
Monday Valerie returns to talk about becoming more serious. Find out more next time on Gateway to Joy.