“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt, every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
That’s what the young missionary Jim Elliot said. For those of you who don’t know his history, Elliot and four other missionaries were slaughtered by the Ecuadorian Auca (Waorani) Indians—the tribe he and the other missionaries were attempting to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to. But that’s how Elliot lived. To the hilt. Sold out for Christ and willing to take risks. He lived an “all there” life.
As I journeyed to New York last week, his words were ringing in my ears. This was a trip of a lifetime for me, and I wanted to be all there for it. I felt like I’d won the inspirational writing Olympics, and I wanted to approach this opportunity like an athlete focused on victory. No distractions, no multitasking. No computer, no emails, no text messages, no phone, except for the times I had to contact the car service that would shuttle me to and from my destination; and, of course, chat with my husband who also had a big event occur in his life last week that he wanted to share with me. I was determined to be all there, for in being all there, I knew I'd find peace.
And peace was with me, for the most part. (Although I did find my first experience with using a car service to pick me up at a New York airport a little tasking). The setting was gloriously peaceful, the weather wonderful, people entertaining and personable. Surprisingly, my mind did not wander to burdens left back home. And, in spite of feeling chewed up at times, I found peace.
Let me explain. So often as a writer you work so very hard to polish a piece and feel you’ve done your best, or at least as close as possible to it, although you know you can always do better. When you win a contest like I did, you believe you’ve managed to impress someone with your labors and stringing together of words. You know the experts you will be gathering with will offer critiques and improvements. And I even presumed that they would tear my writing apart and then put it back together again.
And everything I thought would happen, happened. Although the tearing apart initially felt more like being chewed up and spit out. And I was challenged to find peace in the midst of upheaval. And I had to go to God to get it, and find the answers. And, mercifully, He gave it, immediately. And I knew that it was all being done for my benefit, and His purposes, and I was able to pull myself together, take a deep, cleansing breath, and be enveloped in peace.
And in the process I learned something, (aside from learning a lot about myself last week). I learned that so often we let our frailties, our insecurities, our prejudices, and our expectations handicap our behavior, and, instead of reaching out to grab it, we choose to bat away the peace that God dangles in front of us. Peace for our taking. Peace for our pleasure. Peace He so wants us to have. Instead of living to the hilt, we retreat and mope, we retreat and hide and self-protect. And then we miss out. And we get frustrated and angry, believing that peace eludes us, when it is we who have outright rejected it by our decisions and behavior.
So I quickly pulled myself back together emotionally and leaned into the instruction and chewing up. And I laughed, and I learned, and I grew, and I was rewarded—time, after time, after time. I found peace in the present, peace in the place, peace in the surrounding nature, peace in the emotional turmoil, peace in the past, and peace in the future. I ended the week feeling filled. Exhausted, but filled to overflowing.
It will still take me some time to wrap my brain around all that I experienced and learned, but I am rejoicing because I came back peaceful, full of peace, full of joy, full of hope and promise, and determined to not let others wrench those things from me. Misery loves company, and I must resist and reject misery in order for peace to successfully reign.
So, once again, I am in midst of prioritizing my activity list, determined to live so I can be all there in everything I do, with everyone I engage with. I want to be certain that what I choose is something God has asked me to do, that it is a burden that He, and not someone else, has given. I want to live life to the hilt. Because when I do that, I will find peace, even in the raucousness and unexpectedness of life.
Until next Monday, may your week be full of blessings that you receive and give, your heart be full of joy and thankfulness, and your days be filled with laughter. Build a little heaven in your life right now, and watch your heavenly garden grow!
When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth. ~ A. W. Tozer
Images by Andrea Arthur Owan, and Google