Even If… I Still Will
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
~Jim Elliot, missionary to Ecuador, martyred on January 8, 1956
As we drove through the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, a breathtakingly beautiful country, Jim Elliot’s words resonated in my heart. While our team of nine from Rochester, NY made it safely home and our lives did not end in martyrdom, I asked myself often, am I willing to die for God’s glory if that is what he asks of me?
The truth is that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We don’t like to talk about this, but I have watched too many loved ones face loss recently and as a result it is ever present in my mind. We should make wise choices and seek to live healthy lives, but we don’t get to determine the length of our days here on this earth. The only foolish way to live is to strive after things that won’t last. Following Jesus is never foolish because only what is done for His glory will last.
I feel bold today. Perhaps tomorrow I will wake up to the pressure of trying to not rock any boats, to not say anything that will make others uncomfortable. But this morning, my husband preached on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace (from Daniel 3) Their willingness to stand firm in their trust in God challenged me to my core as it always seems to do! In verse 18 of Daniel 3, these three young men say to Nebuchadnezzar that their God is able to deliver them, but even if He doesn’t, they still will not bow down to the statue that they were being asked to worship.
This is how I want to live. With the faithfulness to stand up for what I believe in like Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego. With the willingness to lay down my life like Jim Elliot. The thread that weaves throughout all of the stories of obedience to God is the faithful God who is worthy of trust. Sometimes God takes people through difficulty and then blesses their lives immensely. Other times, faithful servants lose their lives and it’s too soon for their loved ones left behind. The question for all of us is do we trust God’s plan even if it brings heartache instead of blessing?
Yesterday, we arrived back in Rochester after spending ten days in the stunning country of Ecuador. The experiences we had there were incredible, from the new friendships we made to the work projects we were able to help with to the ministries we were able to be a part of. The way that God worked personally in each of my team member’s lives is remarkable and I am beyond excited to see what God will continue to do in our lives as we continue to step out in faith and trust him. But our time there was not without its challenges. So here are some of the lessons learned and the way I saw my teammates respond to the various difficulties we faced.
Even if our luggage does not arrive at the same time as our plane, we still will have a good attitude and continue to do what we came to do.
Even if we lose water and power and can’t get showers or host meals, we still will make the most of it and rejoice in the opportunity to get to know others even better when we shower and eat at their house unexpectedly!
Even if we are unable to communicate well due to the language barrier, we still will try hard to convey the love of Christ.
Even if we are injured or sick, we still will press on and make the most of the opportunities before us.
Even if plans change, we still will roll with the changes.
Not all of our responses were great. We were tired and out of our element and so there were plenty of times when we didn’t respond well. We were annoying or we got annoyed easily. We weren’t always kind or patient. We argued and complained. But ultimately, we sought God’s glory and I am so grateful for this.
What will God do in the lives of the nine of us who went to Ecuador? I’m not completely sure, but I have an inkling. I can seen glimpses of what God is doing in the lives of many of my teammates and I’m excited about the opportunities He has laid before me. One thing I continue to be convinced of is that when we follow God’s will for our lives, it is always good. It’s not easy, but it is GOOD!
Even if… I still will!