For this post, Brittany and I have decided to split chapters 2-5. She’s taking 2 and 3 and I have 4-5.
In Chapter 4, Elisabeth Elliot really starts to dig in. Like I said in the initial post, Elisabeth has a way of speaking to matters of the heart effectively and aligning scripture properly. The title of this chapter is “Unruly Affections” and I think a quote that encapsulates this chapter most appropriately is: “As I grew into womanhood and began to learn what was in my heart I saw very clearly that, of all difficult things to rule, none were more so than my will and affections. They were unruly in the extreme….”
I think her admission is not only brave, but profound. Humans are naturally prideful people. None of us are born with a taste for humble pie. We are taught that the things we desire and want in life are good and shouldn’t be scrutinized or judged. Elliot’s admission shows that there is something awry in her desires. I agree. I can honestly admit that my desires and dreams are more rampant that ever. Things I want to do, people to meet, goals, love, blah blah blah. It can feel absolutely consuming at times. Buddhists believe that ALL desire is bad, and one must divorce oneself from Desire completely to have peace and achieve Nirvana (“a state beyond sorrows; a state of freedom from cyclic existence”) I can see how that could appealing, but ultimately it feels too easy. I’m sure it is monstrously difficult to live an ascetic lifestyle at first, but humans are very adaptable beings. The whole thing feels cowardly. “Feeling weighed down by desire? Throw it all away and be a sage!” God has made all things good, but sin taints and ruins. God is calling us to pull these unruly affections in rein, not simply because it’s responsible, but because it brings Him glory as well. It will not be easy:
Bringing anything at all into order – a messy room, a wild horse, a recalcitrant child, involves some expenditure. Time and energy at least are required.
One thing that love does it toil for the object of its devotion. How can we say we love God and not toil to bring these things into submission?
One of the chief aims of this book is showing readers how to submit their love lives to Christ. God is always in the business of redemption: people, cultures, errethang. It’s always cool to pronounce belief in God, but action follows right belief. In the book Blue Like Jazz (an absolute must read by the way) Donald Miller says “but the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.” People think it might be absurd to think that the God of Eternity and Infinity is concerned about something as trivial as our love lives. Elisabeth remarked much later in the book “Was He interested in the plight of two college kids?” I know so. God made us all with intrinsic value and worth, and any good father is concerned about the affairs of his children, for nothing is trivial. God desires intimacy with us. God not only wants us, He also wants our desires. Since he loves us, and since love isn’t soft and passive, he wants the absolute best for us and purifies us. His love toils. The book mentions how God sifts the hearts of men. My partner Brittany mentions that this is significant. She gives a baking example to explain.
Well, I think it was significant because of the way sifting works with flour. It separates the fine and course particles. When God sifts our hearts, He’s able to see what’s really there. He sifts hearts to see the real intentions and attitudes it holds and to see where He is in it.
He sifted Abraham’s heart through Issac. Jesus sifted the heart of the young ruler through his possessions. The thing(s) we hold most dear can often became the thing through which God sifts our deceptive hearts; for “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Our abstinence doesn’t make us pure, our unyielding devotion to God does.