As I was working in Uncle Wally’s (Ironwood’s equivalent to a book|souvenir store) this past Tuesday, I sauntered down to the end bookshelf and noticed a book that sounded intriguing. I don’t remember what the title was, but it deals with relationships. Something about putting your love life in the right perspective. After reading the back of that book, I was guided to the prequel – Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot. I didn’t have my money with me, but after reading the back of P&P, I was really interested. So I bought it on Thursday. I just finished it on the way back from church today. It was amazing. Probably the most encouraging thing I’ve read in quite a while, actually.
Elizabeth Elliot is an amazing author. Her writing style is extremely easy to follow. But that wasn’t what made this book a good read. That woman has been inside my head or something. I’ve had the exact same thoughts that she’s had in dealing with singleness and God’s will for my life. Within the first two chapters, I was hooked. There are verses that she wrote in her journals which I’ve held onto quite tightly in the past few years. Things like Psalm 73:25 – “Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is nothing on earth I desire besides you.” Or verses from Psalm 16 – “I have set the Lord always before me . . . You will show me the path of life, in Your presence is fulness of joy.” I couldn’t help but laugh when I read those verses she had listed out. That was my list.
I actually earmarked a couple of the pages [which is something I never do]. Elliot uses a portion of Quiet Talks on Prayer (by S.D. Gordon) to define waiting. It is
steadfastness, that is holding on;
patience, that is holding back;
expectancy, that is holding the face up;
obedience, that is holding one’s self in readiness to go or do;
listening, that is holding quiet and still so as to hear.
If you don’t know the love story of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot – the part before the part that everybody knows – get this book. In chapter 19, Elizabeth shares another portion of her journals
Does the fact that I do not forget Jim indicate that God does not want me to, or is it my own unwillingness to forget that has kept God from answering my prayer to that end? Or does He want me to remember – to “suffer me to hunger” so that I might the more fully learn to find all my satisfaction in Him? . . . Can it be that by a show of what Paul calls “will worship” I should crush the bud of a flower of God’s creation? I know no prayer other than Thy will be done.
I’ve had those same thoughts. When you pray to forget . . . to just get over . . . to be able to move on before you get to the point where it will hurt, but you don’t forget, is that showing God’s will . . . or is it just the fact that I really don’t want to forget? Wow. Yeah. I’ve been there.
Another thing she tackled which I’ve been wondering about . . . what about the girls that chase boys? This is one of my biggest pet peeves and one of my biggest fears. I never want to come across as chasing a boy. I hate the entire idea of it. I just think it’s not my responsibility as the girl, and it starts the relationship off on a bad foot. If I begin pursuing, when do I stop and let the guy take over? How awkward. Anyways, it was the topic of a very interesting and long discussion I had last year. And I was never quite persuaded that it was alright. I’m still just not ok with doing something like that. I want it to obviously be God’s will if I start dating someone, which means I don’t want to ever start manipulating situations in order to start a relationship.
Now, pair that with the idea of being transparently honest. That’s another huge desire I have for life – to be see-through, in a sense. So how could I have those feelings and not share them . . . and still be transparent? I think that’s where discretion comes in. Just because I think something doesn’t mean the whole world should be able to share that thought with me. Let me share another part of the book with you . . .
One evening last winter my husband and I invited a group of single men from a theological seminary to sit around our fireplace and talk about what single Christian men expect of single Christian women. We hear a great deal from the women on this subject, and on what they expect of men, but we had not heard much from the men. We were not asking what they were looking for, first of all, in a wife, but simply what they expect in ordinary, everyday social contact.
“Do you want women to do the asking?” was one of my questions.
“It’s a shock,” somebody said.
“A turnoff,” somebody else said.
“If a woman is smart, she knows the best place for her to be, according to Scripture, is submission. A man is supposed to serve because he is the head,” one man said.
“Submission is a command to married women, isn’t it?” I said. “What do you expect in ordinary give-and-take on campus?”
“Oh. Hmm. Total honesty. Then suppose she comes to you in the hall one day,” I suggested, “and says, ‘I think you’re the handsomest stud on the Hill. I’ve been dreaming about you every night for three weeks. The Lord has told me we should establish a caring and sharing relationship.’ She’s honest (maybe). Is that what you’re asking for?”
“Oh, heck no. I didn’t mean that.”
Long silence. Head scratching. Then the answers began to come.
The message we were receiving as the seminary men talked around our fireplace was that they did not want to be told everything the women were thinking. They wanted to be left to wonder about it and to find out for themselves.
A woman’s beauty should reside, according to the Apostle Peter, in the inmost center of her being, an “. . . imperishable ornament, a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of high value in the sight of God.”
Hm. Looks like I have a little work to do.