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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

devotional

Another long one but worth the reading. Especially for all parents.


Author: Elisabeth ElliotSource: Love Has A Price TagScripture:
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Darkness Never Conquers Light
"I spent all day today at the Shore Country Day School Annual Fair and Sale. A huge bash, enormous fun, all the parents pitching in enthusiastically to sell hot dogs and manage games. There were balloons, pompoms and crepe paper all fluttering about, music playing, pie-eating contests, cream-pie-throwing contests (the teachers volunteered their faces as targets), raffles, etc. My job was to oversee the antique car ride. The car in question was a three-quarter size scale model of a 1903 car with a tiny gas engine that putted along at six miles per hour. The tots drove it, with one of the fathers 'riding shotgun' on the running board...."
This is from a letter I received from one of my four brothers not many weeks ago. I hear from all of them, and from my sister and mother as well, quite regularly. Few people, it seems, correspond regularly with anybody nowadays, let alone with their own relatives. Crowded lives, expensive postage and the convenience of long-distance phone calls are the usual excuses.
But we have always kept up with each other, thanks to our mother who when we first went off to boarding school began sending copies of our letters around to the others. As the years passed we began to make it a little easier for her by making carbons of our letters, and week after week, year in and year out, she takes a good-sized chunk of her time to sort and stuff copies into envelopes, which she addresses and stamps and sends off around the world--always including her own cheerful newsy page, on which nearly every sentence is an exclamation! Or a double exclamation!! Or contains words written in CAPITAL LETTERS!!!
There was another paragraph in my brother's letter, very different from the first: "This week I drove to Children's Hospital in Boston to chauffeur a mother and her little boy, who has acute leukemia. The child is having (1) radiation on the brain, (2) chemotherapy and (3) some dreadful spinal injections in the bargain.
"The scene in the playroom where all the little children come with their mothers to wait for their 'medicine' (that seems to be the term) is too much: all these little, bald, gray, elfin phantoms, peering out of brown-ringed eyes. One tiny girl with a cane. Little tots with stuffed frogs and teddy bears clutched under their arms. Bone-chilling screams coming from the room labeled 'Special Procedures' (read spinal taps and marrow scrapings, I guess).
"A whole room full of beds where they sit, propped up, while the lethal chemicals drip through plastic tubes into their veins. One teen-age girl lying on her side in that room, quietly, with tears dropping slowly across the bridge of her nose. One colored baby with just enough hair left for her mother to have arranged two pigtails exactly the thickness of twisted black sewing thread about three inches long."
A letter came in that same mail from another brother: "'Twas the eighteenth of April in seventy-five....' Yet two hundred years later I am sitting in a hotel almost in sight of the infamous Berlin wall that represents the opposite of all that Paul Revere stood for. Yesterday I crossed that wall into East Berlin, and from the time I entered with stony guards carefully scrutinizing me and my passport until I came out--again under the cold eyes of sullen-faced guards--I never saw a smile from one official.
"By contrast I spent lunch and all afternoon with a group of six joyful, hearty pastors and Christian leaders who hugged me, gave me strong handshakes, joked, prayed earnestly, spoke words of encouragement to me (yes, not vice versa), promised to pray for me, pronounced a benediction on me at our parting.
"One man said, 'Everything is gray here, no color.' That is both literally and symbolically true. Very little color on the streets, buildings still pock-marked with shells from street fighting at the end of World War II. Gray, sad faces. Another said, 'You can only be a happy man in this country if you know Jesus.' 'Here you are either a Christian or not a Christian. No middle ground. When we don't have outward liberty we learn more of true liberty in Jesus."'
The juxtaposition in a few paragraphs of these scenes--gaiety, anguish, persecution--read through hurriedly one morning as I opened a pile of mail, brought once again the insistent question of God's meaning and purpose. What does he want of us? How, finding himself in such starkly opposing frameworks, is the Christian to respond to God? Is it best, perhaps, to try not to think about him when one is watching a pie-throwing contest? Ought one to try not to think--better still, to try not even to see anything at all--when one has to enter a children's cancer ward? Shall we not even read about the suffering on the other side of the Wall? But that is not accepting life. It is evasion. Those Eastern European Christians are not evading, they are rejoicing. How can it be?
Another letter came to me, this one from a young woman I do not know: "This year the Concerts and Lectures Committee at the college I attend has sponsored a series of lectures concerning the topic, 'What Future for My Generation?' Yesterday the guest speaker was the black activist Stokely Charmichael. Although I have been upset about the direction our world seems to be heading, his talk along with the others has prompted me to write to you.
"I am getting married in June. My question is this: What responsibility do you feel a Christain couple has in regard to having children? . . . I know the Lord is totally in charge of the future, but it frightens me to think of my part in bringing a child into an unhappy and unstable world."
Music, balloons, cream pies. Brain tumors, barbed wire, death. This is the world we live in. Ever since the Garden of Eden was sullied by evil it has been an unhappy and an unstable world. Has it ever been right to bring a child into such a world? For the Christian it is right--a thousand times right. For it is the will of God that married people accept the responsibility of children. It is the will of God that we live in the world--this world of light and darkness, of gladness and suffering--for it is this world that Jesus Christ came to redeem. Christianity, alone among the religions of the world, looks steadfastly at the facts, whatever they may be, and says there is an ultimate explanation, an ultimate purpose, a glorious answer.
"Everything belongs to you!" Paul said. "The world, life, death, the present, or the future everything is yours, for you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God."
We cannot protect the child we bring into the world. ("This, this is the victory of the grave; here is death's sting, that it is not strong enough, our strongest wing," wrote the poet Charlotte Mew. "But what of His who like a Father pitieth? His Son was also, once, a little thing....") But we can bring him to the Cross, where all longings, all hopes and failures, all sin and sadness and pain and fear are gathered up in everlasting love and transformed for us forever into glory and beauty and Joy.
So what about the country fair? Try to keep God out of it? Why? He is watching it. He sees us watching it. Does he mind that we have a hilarious time? "Everything belongs to you!" Try thanking him.
And what of the children with the tubes running into them? He sees them. He loves them. He has not finished yet with their redemption. Can we watch with him-- watch and pray and hold them up to everlasting love?
And the prisoners and exiles--they, too, are in his plan. "God has no problems," Corrie ten Boom says, "only plans." We suffer with them because they are members of the same Body, but our Christian faith enables us to look steadfastly and not hide our eyes, to pray earnestly and not despair, because Jesus commanded us: "Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world!"
Copyright© 1979, by Elisabeth Elliotall rights reserved.
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