Elisabeth Elliot’s writings just bless my socks off. I know she would not want to be glorified for herself: the blessing that comes through her is a result of the Lord’s working in her life and teaching her for these many years. Because she’s walked the road ahead of us she can encourage us not just by theory but by experience that God is faithful and His path of obedience the best path.
Yesterday as I was reading my brother Tom’s book, The Achievement of C.S. Lewis, I was admiring again the scope of his knowledge, his ability to comprehend another’s genius, and his wonderful command of English. By contrast my own limitations seemed severe indeed. They are of many kinds–analytical, critical, articulatory, not to mention educational. But my limitations, placing me in a different category from Tom Howard’s or anyone else’s, become, in the sovereignty of God, gifts. For it is with the equipment that I have been given that I am to glorify God. It is this job, not that one, that He gave me.
For some, the limitations are not intellectual but physical. The same truth applies. Within the context of their suffering, with whatever strength they have, be it ever so small, they are to glorify God. The apostle Paul actually claimed that he “gloried” in infirmities, because it was there that the power of Christ was made known to him.
If we regard each limitation which we are conscious of today as a gift–that is, as one of the terms of our particular service to the Master–we won’t complain or pity or excuse ourselves. We will rather offer up those gifts as a sacrifice, with thanksgiving.
I have thought often in regard to dealing with the after-effects of transverse myelitis, “Lord, I could serve you so much better without this.” But it’s as if He were saying, “No, this is what I am using to shape your service for Me.” Most people who have gone through any type of trial or affliction in life would say that, although they didn’t welcome the trial itself, they were drawn closer to the Lord, and the lessons learned were invaluable.
Even limitations that are not from some type of trial but rather from the seasons of life shape what our ministry is supposed to be. I remember as a mother of young children often having this desire to do something — I wasn’t sure quite what — and I was discouraged that I was too busy trying to keep my head above water in everyday life to try to figure it out. The Lord had to keep reminding me that that was His ministry, my service for Him, at that season. I needed to focus, to relax and enjoy it. And now, getting older (that sounds so much better than aging! 🙂 I’m still in the middle of middle age) I can already foresee that there will be different limitations in the coming seasons of life that will shape who I am and what I do for Him.
Our limitations are God’s tools. As Elisabeth said, “For it is with the equipment that I have been given that I am to glorify God. It is this job, not that one, that He gave me,” and they “become, in the sovereignty of God, gifts.”