All of us are living for something. The question is whether something is worthy of our deepest affections. Will it capture our highest loyalty? Will it keep us in the fight all the way to the finish? And will it last into eternity?
We’re all living for something. The question is whether that something is valuable enough that it’s not only worth living for but dying for as well. Jim Elliot lived to bring the gospel to an indigenous tribe in Ecuador that was locked in bondage to a long history of animism and revenge killing. A lot of people probably thought Elliot was crazy to “waste” his life in the jungles of South America. But he made it very clear what he valued most in life when he wrote in his journal in October 1949: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
A few years later, Elliot and four other missionaries would be killed by the very people they were trying to reach. At that time, the world perceived the loss as a tragedy. But within a few years, Elliot’s wife, Elisabeth, and others brought many of the Ecuadorian tribe members to faith—including one of the killers.
Are we living for things that will last into eternity? Again, this is where I worry about men in their 40s and 50s. They’re charging along, striving for career success. Then they make it, and by the time they turn 65, the culture says they ought to kick back and start enjoying their bucket list.
I detest that way of thinking! Elliot was in his late 20s when he died—he never got to retirement age. Do you think he made the most of his short time on Earth?
From my point of view, everything in my life so far has merely been a prologue and a preparation for whatever God has for me next. Frankly, I’ve asked God that I might bear more fruit in my next five years than I’ve born in my entire life up to this point—all for His glory. But God has the freedom to determine what that looks like. My own idea would be to win millions of people for Christ. If God allowed such a privilege, it would certainly glorify Him.
But on the other hand, His way of glorifying Himself through me might be something very different. It might mean winning just a handful of people for Christ. It might mean becoming disabled and being able just to pray for people to come to Christ. Conceivably, it could mean spending most of my time taking care of an invalid family member, where the only time I get out of the house is to go buy groceries.
And you know what? It’s OK if that’s the best way to give my Lord the glory due to Him. Again, I need to get to the point where I pray, “Lord, I don’t really care what Your will is—only that I’m in Your will.”
What do you think will be one of the first things we will say when we see Jesus? You know what I think I will say after falling at His feet in worship, thinking back on all the things I didn’t understand in my life? I will simply say, “Of course, Lord,” as I understand His purposes, His love, and His faithfulness that have worked together for my good and transformed me into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Wow! To God be the glory! What great things He has done for each of us.
John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.