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Measure Your Life by Loss

Elisabeth Elliot: Measure thy life by loss and not by gain, not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth. For love?s strength standeth in love?s sacrifice and he that suffereth most hath most to give.

Lisa Barry: That was a quote by Ugo Bassi which has meant a lot to many people. And if you?re someone who has gone through suffering, clinging to Christ, you?ve discovered the truth of that statement. Today on Gateway To Joy, we?re beginning a brand new series called "The Life of the Vine." Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." And as an example of that, Elisabeth Elliot is going to read a letter from a woman who has discovered the richness of living on the vine. Let?s get started.

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, reading a story today from one of my listeners named Virginia Richardson of Waukesha.

It's a lovely story of one of God's hidden ones. I'm so thankful for the many stories that came in in answer to someone else's question. It wasn't I who suggested that you send your Gateway To Joy story, but I've been greatly blessed by reading them. And I think you'll be blessed when you hear Virginia's story too.

She says, "To begin this letter I want to tell you about an elderly Christian lady I knew named Helen Ellertson. Then I will give you my Gateway To Joy story. The day you related the story of Mrs. Kershaw in your series of women who greatly influenced your life, I remembered Helen Ellertson. When I knew her she lived alone in a small town in Montana. She had never had children, and was a widow.

"When the ladies in church would meet together for prayer on Thursday mornings, she would be there. I remember how she prayed. 'I pray for Tom and Dick, etc.' And she would list off the names of the people in church--a long, long list. Then I also took my two little girls and visited her in her home once. She said she would have the Christian radio station on all day long.

"I think she told me she had one nephew who was still living, besides that she had no family. The time came when I moved away. But I kept Helen in my prayers. I recently went back to visit this little town in eastern Montana. The news came to me of her death not many years ago.

"I had been away eleven years, she died two years ago. The dear old retired chiropractor and his wife from the church had kept their friendship with her. In fact, he was with Helen when she died.

"Other older ladies in the church had also visited her. I asked about the funeral service. Not a lot was said because, it seems that the older people in the church were probably the only ones who came. Helen had been so old that not everyone knew her well anymore. But I broke down and cried and cried. Helen lived to be over 95, but I loved her dearly. And now I missed her.

"I had come for a church reunion. In the church lobby was a picture of Helen, along with some quotes of what she had said on her 95th birthday. She said, 'Not many people remember the martyrs of the Lutheran Bretheren Church in China.' She had sat under some of them when she was young, before they went to China. Her comment was that the motto of the church should be remembered: Every member a missionary. She was a charter member of the church there in Sidney.

"But Helen had no big family. She was rather quiet, unobtrusive and unknown. She was willing to be an unknown. But I'm sure she wouldn't have come out and said that. She simply lived it. She faithfully prayed for others, and while she was still able, she faithfully came to church and to the little Thursday morning gatherings of ladies for prayer.

"And as I prayed for her over the years, I grew to love her for it and cherish the memory I have of her. Though she was not widely acclaimed among men, I'm sure she pleased God. To Him she was very dear. I think that was why I cried so hard.

"Psalm 116:15 says, 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.'

"Now to give you my Gateway To Joy story, Virginia goes on. When Gateway To Joy began to be broadcast in 1988, I had three children. The youngest was a small baby. I had read Shadow of the Almighty eleven years earlier." (That's the biography of my husband, Jim Elliot, that I'm putting in a parenthesis here in case most of you don't know what Shadow of the Almighty is.

She says, "I had read that book eleven years earlier, and it had been a landmark in my Christian life. Partly due to reading it, I had the conviction that the Holy Spirit wanted me to be an intercessor." And that word for some of you little ones who may be listening, and intercessor is somebody who does a lot of praying.

"From then on I knew that God had put that calling on my life. I give God all the glory for whatever part I have played since then in the lives of others as an intercessor." I should add also, for you children, that it's not just somebody who prays, but somebody who prays specifically for other people. Somebody who's not just constantly banging on God's door and saying, 'You gotta do this for me, God.' But prayer for other people. Are you an intercessor? Do you pray for your mama and daddy? Your brothers and sisters? Your neighbors? Maybe some child in school that's been nasty to you? Try praying for that person. And you will learn to be an intercessor.

She says, "May He teach us all to pray. Now, we have seven children and the youngest is 22-months old. Of course, in ten years with children in the home, a family has some turmoil. The most comforting words I have heard from you on the radio again and again, have probably been these: 'Measure your life by loss and not by gain, not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured out. For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice and he that suffereth most hath most to give.'

"And I think over my situation at the time whenever I think of those words. O yes, I think, I can measure my life by loss and not by gain. And I think over the losses that I've been experiencing at the time."

And then she says, "There's another concept: when what I've done all gets unraveled by others, I can still rest knowing that I had done the things for Jesus. Then a third thing: the assurance that I can be a keeper of my home and be content simply with that ministry itself." And that should reassure many of my listeners. That if you're just a keeper at home, just a housewife--as people say--remember that you can be content simply with that assignment. That ministry in itself, if you offer to Jesus, makes a very big difference doesn't it. It you're stewing and fretting over it or if gladly and with joy, you're offering it up to the Lord Jesus, especially if it's something you really would not naturally choose to do.

And she says she's learned, "the principle of using verbal authority with children and even babies." And it warms my heart to hear that, because over and over again I try to encourage women to believe that it's amazing at how early an age little children begin to understand who is in charge. And sad to say, it's very obvious in some of the homes that we visit that the children are the ones who run the place. That's not the way God wants it to be, is it? Verbal authority has got to start very early, before the child can speak he can certainly understand when you say "no" or "come."

Well, back to Virginia's letter. "There are many other ideas and principles that you repeat again and again. They help me. And so does the repetition. Just as with Amy Carmichael, if I fail to hold another to the highest, then I know nothing of Calvary love. And your mother's saying, 'Do the next thing.' You will long be remembered for these many gems of true wisdom. Don't stop repeating them," she says.

Well thank you, dear Virginia. I don't intend to stop repeating them. I know that some of you may get bored with them, and some of you are very grateful, because we need to be reminded. And I'm so thankful for the ways in which other people of God have reminded me again and again and again. And as my mother used to say, "It's just everlastingly staying at it."

People would say, "How do you keep such a neat home? How do you happen to have such well behaved children?" And she would just kind of roll her eyes and she'd say, "It means staying everlastingly at it." Well, we're grateful for that kind of an upbringing.

Virginia says, "I have only mentioned a smattering of the highlights. I do believe that there has been more rest and peace in our home in the past ten years than if we had not been listening to Gateway To Joy almost every time it's aired. God bless you and all the staff of Gateway To Joy. Thank you, even for the reminders to pray for Gateway To Joy and to pray for you."

Well, that's a very encouraging story and I think of the challenge that this women has of having seven children. And the words that she quoted were from Ugo Bassi's amazing little sermon called Sermon in the Hospital. Ugo Bassi was a priest in Italy in the last century, in the 1880's. And he wrote those words, which I understand are engraved on the war memorial in Edinbrough. "Measure thy life by loss and not by gain, not be the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth. For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice and he that suffereth most hath most to give."

Lisa Barry: I?ve written down that quote and I think I?ll write it down in my Bible too. If you?d like to do the same, but didn?t catch all of it from the radio, then visit our Web site, because each daily program is on transcript. Then you can copy the words of that poem down and even e-mail the whole program to a friend who might be helped by it. But I?ll warn you, the rest of the week is just as meaty and you may just want to go ahead and purchase the weekly tape. This is a solid week of programs for those who are serious about their Christian faith. The title to ask for is "The Life of the Vine," and the cost is $5.00. Send that along with your request to:

Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, NE 68501. That?s Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, NE 68501. Or you can call toll free 1-800-759-4JOY. That?s 1-800-759-4569. Or you can also find us on the Internet at gatewaytojoy.org.

Gateway To Joy is a listener-supported production of Back to the Bible and is supported by the prayers and donations of grateful listeners. Tomorrow Elisabeth talks about the necessary, albeit uncomfortable, task of pruning. Gather up all your limbs and meet back here for the next Gateway To Joy.

 
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