|The Lord is On Thy Side|
Elisabeth Elliot: "Pause a minute now and examine your heart. Have you been insisting on hearing God Himself? Are you demanding that God make explanations regarding His dealings with you?"
Lisa Barry: We don't like unanswered questions, do we? I often think I can live with anything but uncertainty. Give me the news, good or bad, but I don't want the information withheld from me. Well, as we'll find out today on Gateway To Joy, God in His wisdom withholds information from us. Elisabeth Elliot has been thinking about this subject a lot lately and has come up with some very helpful applications for all of us. If you're in a situation right now that has left you praying for answers, maybe what you really need is peace. Maybe what God wants for you is to trust Him. Let's find out more as we begin this brand new series entitled BE STILL, MY SOUL. Here's Elisabeth.
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 with you all this week on the subject of "Be Still, My Soul." I take my title from one of my favorite hymns, written by Katharina von Schlege.
"Be still, my soul. The Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul. Thy best thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end."
One of the things that is going to destroy our soul's stillness is the asking of too many questions. We feel sometimes as though we have a right to answers from God as to why He allows things to happen, especially why He allows things to happen to poor little me. Let's remember that there is mystery and there is revelation. Both are both veiled and revealing. Mystery is veiled and revealing. Revelation is veiled and revealing.
But it isn't our business to track down God's reasons for doing things, because of course God is in heaven and we are upon earth. As it says in Ecclesiastes, "Therefore, let your words be few."
"He who insists on hearing God Himself shows that what he really desires is not to believe, but to know; not to obey, but to react to his own experience." I think that bears repeating. "He who insists on hearing God Himself shows that what he really desires is not to believe, but to know; not to obey, but to react to his own experience." Pause a minute now and examine your heart. Have you been insisting on hearing God Himself? Are you demanding that God make explanations regarding His dealings with you?
Very often we have afflictions of the heart that have assumed intellectual proportions. We stew and we fret and we seek to track down God's mysteries, which cannot be tracked down. God moves in mysterious ways. If we could just remember to be still and remember that the Lord is on our side--and we're told to bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
I have no doubt that I'm talking to some parents who have a very severe cross of grief and pain in the form of wayward children. Children are being lured away from the home, away from the church. They are being tempted by so many things that never tempted me when I was a young person. Parents and grandparents are grieving. "Bear patiently this cross. Leave to thy God to order and provide."
Pray for the children, of course. Follow them with your prayers constantly, day and night, every time they come to mind. Lift up your heart for them in prayer. But then remember--you can't change them. You can't force them to do what you want them to do. It may be that they are like the prodigal son, who demanded the legacy which was due him. The father had to watch him go off into that far country, undoubtedly knowing perfectly well what that son was going to do with that money--squander it.
Eventually he found himself in such dirt and mess that there wasn't anything left for him to eat, except pig's food. It wasn't until then that he came to himself and said, "How many of my father's servants are better off than I am? Here I am, eating pig's food." That father had to wait and watch.
"Be still, my soul. The Lord is on thy side. Leave to thy God to order and provide."
The word is often brought to us by other people. No matter from whose mouth the word of the Lord may come, it demands what it has always demanded--humility, obedience and docility.
A great writer asks this question: "What would God's visible light--for example, seeing Jesus in person--make easier for us?" We often hear people say, "Oh, if only I could have been there when Jesus was on earth; if only I could have seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead or watched Him lift the man who had lain paralyzed for years!"
How do you think God's visible light would be made easier if you could see Jesus in person? Would it make your decisions easier? The quitting of self for the things of God--that's never easy for any of us, is it? But do you suppose that it would be easier if you could have seen Him?
Obedience--would that be easier? Well, we like to tell ourselves, "If only the Lord would speak to me in an audible voice." We don't really expect Him to give us a star of Bethlehem or handwriting on the wall or a pillar of fire, although some may be asking God for things like that. God has never dealt with me in any of those methods. But He does come in His time and give us what we need by way of guidance.
"He who wishes to facilitate such things risks underestimating the earnestness of faith." In other words, he who determines that God must give him something visible or something audible to prove that He is speaking to him, that person risks underestimating the earnestness of faith.
"It's faith that God requires of us, not sight. He is prone to seek refuge from obedience in sensational religious experience." I'd better read that again. "He is prone to seek refuge from obedience"--refuge from obedience--"in sensational religious experience."
Do you remember the time when the woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee and the breasts that gave Thee suck"? Jesus turned to her and said, "More blessed is the one who hears the word of God and keeps it." That woman wanted something dramatic and extraordinary and magic. She just wished that she had had the privilege that Mary had been given of giving birth to that baby Jesus. Jesus brought her sentimentality straight down to earth with quite a thud when He said, "Blessed rather is the one who hears the word of God and keeps it."
"Maturity is the ability to live with ambiguity." The second stanza of this lovely hymn is "Be still, my soul. Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake. All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul. The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below."
You remember, don't you, that Jesus was able to calm the wind and the waves just by speaking to them. So the waves and winds still know His voice. "Maturity is the ability to live with ambiguity and to carry within ourselves the unanswered question."
Have you got unanswered questions for God? Do you have a question that you claim when you see Christ in heaven, this is the first question you're going to ask Him? We've all heard people say, "Well, the first thing I'm going to ask God when I get to heaven is why did He do this or why did He not do so and so?" I feel pretty certain that when we see the face of Jesus, those questions are going to melt into total obscurity. I doubt that we're going to bother asking any questions whatsoever, because the revelation of His face and His love will overwhelm all those questions.
Carlos Carretto in his book, LETTERS FROM THE DESERT, said, "Love will never fail to show you what you must do." Who is listening to me today who is saying, "I just don't know what to do"? Probably a thousand people are out there saying something like that. "I don't know what to do." "Love will never fail to show you what you must do." The love of God, working in you and through you--your love for Him, your trust in Him--you can count on His guidance in His time.
Let's not be hammering away on God's door for answers to our questions, but let us by faith silence the overwhelming protest against divine reality in all that we see. We will find victory and quietness and stillness in our souls.
Lisa Barry: That sounds like great advice. For some of you, it was exactly the thing you needed to hear. In fact, it was just the information God wanted to give to you today. If you'd like to know more about this subject, let me recommend a wonderful book Elisabeth has written called ON ASKING GOD WHY. It will go even deeper into why we should trust the wisdom and love of God, and not lean on our own understanding. Get it for yourself or for someone who is going through a difficult time.
The cost is $11.50. You can send that, along with your request, to Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free: 1-800-759-4JOY. You can also find us on the Internet at gatewaytojoy.org. We've made some great improvements to the Web site that make it even more user-friendly than ever. Check it out at gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway To Joy is a listener-supported production of Back to the Bible.
Elisabeth will be back again tomorrow with a reminder that God's guidance is marvelous and very unexpected. Find out more the next time we meet for Gateway To Joy.