The hope was always there that God’s will would bring us together. It might not be that, I knew, and I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done. Acceptance of whatever that means is the great victory of faith that overcomes the world. The diary records a prayer asking to be led higher. What this the answer to that? If so, I needed more grace, for heart and flesh were feeble.
“Commit they way into the Lord;…and he shall bring it to pass.” Sometimes I was sure “it” would mean marriage. Other times I had to accept it to mean the will of God, which could be anything, including, of course, permanent virginity. I found that the commitment had to be reaffirmed almost daily. It was the taking up of the cross daily that Jesus spoke of. Is it a tough thing to do? Then do it. Take it up at once. Say yes to God. He will bring the very best to pass.
Is it dishonest to say yes to God when you don’t really feel like it? Is it lying to Him to say “I’ll do Your will” when your heart tells you you really want something else? You recognize that “rebel sigh” that the hymn writer mentions.
Those questions often troubled me. Now I see it this way. If you love someone, there are many things you will do for that person because you love him – not because it’s what you’d prefer if love did not enter the picture. The fact is, love has entered the picture. Therefore, in your heart, you can be very honest when you tell him you really prefer to do what He wants, because, more than your own pleasure, you want His. When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love Him. If I can say yes to that question, can’t I say yes to pleasing Him? Can’t I say yes even if it means a sacrifice? A little quiet reflection will remind me that yes to God always leads in the end to joy. We can absolutely bank on that.
Another great comfort to me during the long uncertainty was the knowledge that I was being prayed for, not only by friends and family, but – wonder of wonders – by Christ Himself, who always lives to intercede for us, and by the Holy Spirit, who “…comes to the aid of our weakness. We do not even know how we ought to pray, but through our inarticulate groans the Spirit himself is pleading for us, and God who searches our inmost being knows what the Spirit means, because He pleads for God’s people in God’s own way.”…
If the yearnings went away, what would we have to offer up to the Lord? Aren’t they given to us to offer? It is the control of passion, not its eradication, that is needed. How would we learned to submit to the authority of Christ if we had nothing to submit?
My little niece Gallaudet Howard taught me something important when she was about three years old. Seeing that she was having difficulty with the sleeves, I asked her if I could help her put on her dress. “Oh, never mind,” she said. “Papa usually lets me struggle.” What kind of a father is that? A wise one. Her father, my brother Tom, is also a very sensitive one, aware of the importance of struggle in the process of growth.
I found in my Greek New Testament that 1 Peter 5:10 could be translated, “After you have suffered a while, he himself will mend that which was broken.” If all struggles and sufferings were eliminated, the spirit would no more reach maturity than would the child. The Heavenly Father wants to see us grow up.
Excerpt from “Rebel Sigh,” in Passion and Purity, by Elisabeth Elliot (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2005).