Elisabeth Elliot tells of five years of loving one man, Jim, and of learning the disciplines of longing, loneliness, uncertainty, hope, trust, and unconditional surrender to Christ—a surrender which required that she postpone her dreams of the future unconditionally into the hands of God. In her own words, she explains: “The love life of a Christian is a crucial battleground. There, if nowhere else, it will be determined as to who is Lord: the world, the self and the devil, or the Lord Christ.”
Those words were penned from experience. One summer evening in 1949, sitting on a rustic bench on the side of Mount Tabor in Portland, Oregon, Jim had confessed his love for her. Immediately following that declaration, however, he informed her that it appeared the missionary work to which each of them had been called might require that they remain single.
In her book, Loneliness, Elisabeth wrote, “Although I don’t think the word occurred in our conversation that evening, it was the undercurrent of all we talked about: loneliness. I would soon be leaving for home in New Jersey. Would we ever meet again? When? Where? Were we to be single forever? Please, Lord, no, my heart was saying, I will die without him. But I still wanted what God wanted to give—nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. Would I submit to the rule of the Love that rules the heavens? These were the things going through my mind.”
That night Elisabeth crept quietly into the room she was sharing with Jim’s sister, and entered into a silent dialogue with the Lord, He seemed to be asking her, “What do you want more than anything else in the world?” Jim Elliot was the first answer that sprang to her mind. But she had not forgotten her commitment to God so, hoping she spoke the truth, she answered, “To know You, Lord.” Again, His Voice spoke to her heart, “Do you want My will, at any cost?” She knew the heart-wrenching price her answer might cost her, but deep inside, in surrender, she said, “Yes, Lord.”
The next day, she boarded a bus to leave Portland, with no guarantee that she would ever see Jim again. For four more years, she kept that sacrifice on the altar, waiting before God. Then, on October 8, 1953, Jim and Elisabeth were married, and within days were heading to a new, joint assignment for the Lord: ministering to the Indian tribes in the jungles of Ecuador.
“Full consecration may in one sense be the act of a moment and in another the work of a lifetime. It must be complete to be real, and yet, if real it is always incomplete; a point of rest, and yet a perpetual progression.” – From Born Cruciﬁed by L.E. Maxwell
From The Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah W. Smith
“The secret lies just here—that our will, which is the spring of all our actions, has been in the past under the control of sin and self, and these have worked in us all their own good pleasure. But now God calls upon us to yield our will up unto Him, that He may take the control of them, and may work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. If we will obey this call, and present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, He will take possession of our surrendered wills, and will begin at once to work in us “that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ,” giving us the mind that was in Christ, and transforming us into His image.”
Ask the Lord to help you identify occasions in your daily life where an “it’s my right” mentality creeps in. It may be a crossing of your personal preference in some little thing, an unexpected interruption, an unwelcome distraction...whatever “frets” you. Rather than allowing them to upset you, let these occasions become opportunities for surrender. Ask God to help you take them up in worshipful acceptance, seeing them as a time when you can surrender your will.