Elizabeth Elliot

At Loose Ends

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You’ve heard the expression, to be at loose ends. I’m probably making this up but let’s suppose the true origin of the expression is from weavers as they reached the end of the warp yarns. They would find themselves at loose ends. Weaving creates a powerful word picture for that idiom because it is makes sense that there’s a call for action on the part of the weaver. He will need to bind the end of the fabric to finish it off, so that the loose ends are not able to fray.

Warp and Weft, courtesy of Wikipedia

When I look at the tapestry of my life, it feels like there are many loose ends. I’m casting about trying to understand the relationship of one yarn to another. Some strands are coming to an end while others are vibrant and powerfully influencing the direction of my life. Yet a tapestry is not created around a single thread or yarn by itself. It requires the presence and purpose of all of the other yarns with it.

I keep staring at the short yarns that seem to have ended too soon, and others that seem unwieldy and never-ending. Some threads I need and others I’m ready to toss out like a bad date. Through it all there is the conundrum of the now and the not yet.

Have you ever felt the tension between letting go of one thing and trying so hard to be into the next thing, and it remains elusive to you? I know I’ve quoted this bit before, but Elizabeth Elliot speaks of the need to “… carry within one’s self the unanswered question.” That is so apt for this present season of my life. To carry within seems to denote a yieldedness to be burdened. There is also a letting go of expectation. No more insistence, “It has to go my way, or I won’t play.” As elementary as that sounds, it is most often where I find myself. Thankfully yielding doesn’t entail blindly thrusting ourselves into a black hole. We entrust ourselves to the King.

Remember earlier I mentioned that the weaver needs to bind the loose ends of a tapestry? In a way I picture myself binding myself, my loose ends and my life to my King. Somehow I’m going to choose to let Him lead, and yield myself to that vulnerable and soul-searching process.


He Is No Fool…

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Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you didn’t care so much what other people think? You know, if you just followed your dreams, and perhaps irreverently bailed? Or took the plunge? Or bought the field?

Recently I’ve been pondering something Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim was a missionary in Ecuador during the 1950’s. He died at the hands of the Auca Indian tribe with whom he was trying to share the love of God. Jim had loved and courted his wife, Elizabeth for many years. Elizabeth’s story of waiting on God has deeply impacted my life. But together Jim and Elizabeth prepared for God’s particular purposes for them. They had been married not quite two years and had a daughter, Valerie, before Jim’s death in 1955.

When I ponder Jim’s words I am forced to remember that I cannot keep the things that I collect in this life. Once I’m gone, my earthly life is over. And it will not matter what you stuff in my pine box it will neither influence my journey nor bring me back to life. I have loved ones that would say, “Security is everything.” I would challenge that. We perceive a level of security we simply do not have in this life. I can spend my life amassing millions, expending relationships and exploiting friendships in my preference for money or security. But in the blink of an eye, through no failure of my own, I can find myself penniless and on the street corner. I will not live my life in the pursuit of security. 

In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 13, it talks about a treasure in a field.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

There are two interpretations to this parable. The first is that we are the treasure in the field, and that God the Father gave all that He had ~ namely His Son ~ in exchange for us. A price had to be paid in order to rescue us from death. He paid the price for us. And we are God’s treasure.

The other interpretation of this is that the Son is the treasure. We are the merchant and when we discover the mysteries that point to Christ, we are completely overwhelmed. And we are so moved by the mysteries that we hide the treasure in the field. We then sell all that we have in order to gain our treasure, Christ.

The reason I prefer the second interpretation is this:  it is only when something is exceedingly valuable to you that you will make terrific sacrifices in order to make it work. We can know, deep down, what it is we value when we measure our sacrifice.

And so it is that we find ourselves walking out these moments alone. Only you can choose to put someone else first in your life. No one can do it for you. Only you can irreverently ignore what people think, and follow the dreams that Father has put before you.