Friday, June 30, 2006

Service As A Privilege

While spending some time with the Lord one morning last week, I read my ususal round of devotions to go along with the Word, and in the process found this from Elizabeth Eliot:

"The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.

Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with--into the image of Christ."

My entire life long this passage, Romans 8:28-29, has followed me in every situation. My mother had this verse hanging on my bathroom wall:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

The "route to sanctity," as Elizabeth Eliot puts it, is exactly why He allows those challenges that we must accept in our lives. Those challenges come in so many forms, whether it be marriage, childrearing, financial pressures, illness of self or another loved one, etc..

The key to joy isn't how few of those things from which we can escape, rather it is in seeing the challenge rightly. It lies in seeing it clearly through Christ's eyes. When we realize that He is treating us as real sons and daughters when he chastens us is key to understanding that His love knows no bounds and certainly only wants the best for His own. The key to joy is realizing that all that He allows in our lives is mercy and grace. The very air I am allowed to breathe is grace overflowing.

So, if we are chosen to endure hardship, or simply given a job that is very demanding (Hello, any of you mothers out there agree with me on this one?), we need to look at it as stated above:

"The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity."

Even this HARD thing I have to do? Even this pain I must endure for His name's sake? Even when I feel so overwhelmed?

Yes, Yes, and still again I say, Yes! It is a privilege to serve Him in this way... no matter what it is. As painful as that may seem, it is God's honest truth... His best for us. And therein lies hope. Hope that He is indeed changing us into the image of His Son. What higher privilege could I ask? I must make this offering to Him wholeheartedly in order to know Him more, to love Him and Him only. This and this alone is my purpose... not some contrived, man made hope of sharing God's glory. That would be vanity, pride. No, my purpose is to bring Him glory, to reflect Him. And when I do that, I will truly be entering into His presence and able to understand what it means to enjoy Him. No best-seller can help me find a purpose higher than this.

4 comments:

Lora K. said...

Amy,
What a great reminder! Elizabeth Elliot is one of my favorite authors, if not my favorite. I can remember thinking years ago how I wished I had the strength and wisdom she did...I then realized what price she had paid for all that strength and wisdom. When the movie Beyond the Gates of Splendor came out Lindsay and I were talking about the fact that if Jim and the others hadn't died, Elizabeth would have been just another missionary wife, not in the spotlight. We wouldn't have had the benefit of the wisdom God had given her. It's truly amazing when you step back and look at all the lives that were touched because of the deaths of those 5 men. I feel that Jim summed it up best, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." These are words we all need to take to heart.

Amy Howard said...

Lora,

I agree. There have been so many times in my own life when I have learned this lesson well. If we never had to endure the difficult times, we wouldn't have the fruit. The main thing I must always remind myself is that all that He allows is grace. It's that simple. If He has allowed me to awake this day, I have been shown grace. To endure anything He chooses to send my way is privilege because He is treating me as a true daughter.

Thanks be to Him!
Amy

The Bradshaws said...

Amy,

Great post. And it's easy to agree, with the tough stuff in mind. But it applies even to the everyday, seemingly mundane chores and challenges of being a wife and mother. Yes, changing those dirty diapers is a gift, a privilege. Reducing that pile of laundry is, too. So is cutting up the fruit, or preparing oatmeal. I believe it was a very wise woman who once told me that home on any given day is the real testing ground.

Thanks for the post.

Mary Susan

Anonymous said...

This was just lovely.

Thank you so much for writing it.

I wrote about this at my blog, and linked to yours, at:

http://josboys.typepad.com

Thank you for the lovely thoughts.

~Jo's Boys