by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
That is the question I personally asked Elisabeth Elliot so many years ago when I lived in her home as a young seminarian here in New England. In exchange for room and board, I typed manuscripts and did a bit of housecleaning—which occasionally included dusting the fierce Waorani spears propped in the corner of the living room!
As I recall, she answered me in her clear, straightforward manner. “God called me to take the gospel message to the Waorani. So when the opportunity arose, I followed obediently.” My own immediate thought was yet, how do you know when to take a risk?
Back in the 1950s, many people warned Elisabeth not to go live in the jungle. But she held firm. “Some told me point-blank that I must be mistaken … I knew that my position was quite indefensible. But I knew, too, that it was the duty which lay before me. That duty I took to be the will of God.”
Over the next two years of living with the Waorani in the Ecuadorian jungle, God had plenty of opportunity to both confirm His call on Elisabeth’s life and also eventually redirect her to further avenues of ministry. She became a writer, speaker and teacher – and many of us here in New England leadership were privileged to be touched by her life.
Is God calling you to move forward into the unknown, perhaps even this fall? As you study His Word and seek godly counsel, are you willing to live with risk?
“I found peace in the knowledge that I was in the hands of God. Not in the confidence that I was not going to be killed. Not in any false sense of security that God would protect me, any more than He protected my husband . . . Simply in knowing that He held my destiny in His two hands, and that what He did was right.” —Elisabeth Elliot, The Savage My Kinsman
Just like Elisabeth, we can be confident that God indeed holds our destinies in His hands. September is a time when many of us review our lives and decide on priorities. When we only have so much time and energy and resources, how do we choose to invest in what matters most?
Some of us give in and decide that life is ever so much easier when we just sit on the couch. When we keep doing the same thing over and over again getting the same results. But who wants to live a life where nothing ever changes? Why not take a risk when we know we have the King of the universe on our side?
I love the promise, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
What God has planned for you is probably more amazing than you could ever imagine, but to live it requires a strong element of faith.
“We are all climbing our own versions of Mount Everest and have no idea if our oxygen will last or if an avalanche will come, but God does. We can never underestimate the grace and the strength he will give us for whatever he is calling us to do and whatever challenges we’ll face… It’s not about having all the right answers… It’s knowing that He who has called us is faithful.” —Melanie Shankle, Church of the Small Things
Do you know today that God is still faithful in your life? When William Wallace, as portrayed in the film Braveheart, rallied ordinary people in the First War of Scottish Independence from England, he helped them discover strength they never knew they had. At the Battle of Stirling, many of those farmers and villagers were afraid, but Wallace cheered them on toward victory:
“Fight, and you may die. Run, and you’ll live . . . at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance—just one chance—to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom?” —Braveheart, screenplay by Randall Wallace
Maybe it’s time for us to stop playing it safe and put our lives on the line for something important for the kingdom. What risky choice will you make this fall?
Pray with me, Lord, I confess that while I’m tired of doing the same things with the same old results, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to change, to dare, to risk. Will You give me the confidence to trust You enough to obey that uneasy call? Amen.
Lucinda Secrest McDowell, MTS, is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the award-winning author of 15 books, including new releases Life-Giving Choices (2019) and Soul Strong (2020), as well as Dwelling Place, and Ordinary Graces. Lucinda, a member of Redbud Writers Guild, is known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways. She co-directs reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing & Speaking, and blogs weekly at EncouragingWords.net Contact her at LucindaSMcDowell@gmail.com or 860.402.9551 – she’d love to speak at your next event.