Encouragement and strength can be found by simply opening a book. This truth is displayed to me every time I open Oswald Chambers, Elizabeth Elliot or C.S. Lewis. The words on the written page are rooted in spiritual truth. They cut through the muck and mire of the earthly voices and opinions that dominate TV, newspapers and 99% of human conversation overheard at a coffee house. The words of these writers pulls my focus back to right living; it puts my gaze heavenward.
In our culture it is so easy to slip into thoughts of earthly matters. We are constantly bombarded by topics and subject matters that have nothing to do with God and everything to do with our own needs, opinions and desires.
I bought a newspaper today. Most of the articles I read had nothing to do with God or things of moral value. Most had to do with politics - demonizing the opposing party and criticizing those with differing views. The section of brief's were filled with news of robberies, murders and misdemeanors. Letters written to the editor were riddled with complaints about laws, politicians and noisy neighbors.
I came home and turned on the TV. The news was filled with depressing sagas of scandal, abuse and criminals going to trial. I switched it to that silly show "The Doctors". They were talking about diseases, medication and depression. Yay! I flipped to TLC but they were telling people how hideous they looked in their clothing on "What Not to Wear".
Without a concerted effort you can go through your day without hearing much of anything positive or uplifting. It is a sad state of affairs when it is harder to find good in the world then it is to find bad. I guess this is the whole trouble with sin - it has inundated this world, leaving nothing untouched. When you see sin for what it is you start truly understanding the devastation it causes. I'm at that place. I see how the human condition is left in shambles because of our sin nature. It is upsetting because I know most people don't see it. How can they be missing this? Doesn't anyone else see that we are living in a den of discord and disharmony? It is as if someone is singing in the wrong key and no one has noticed. Is everyone tone deaf?
When I start to get discouraged I find comfort in my favorite Christian writers. They remind me that other people on this earth have seen the chaos for what it is but have kept on living out their faith in spite of it all. These writers encourage me when the promises of God become muffled in my mind and the noise that surrounds me becomes overpowering. I open one of their books and they remind me where my hope is found, where my peace rests and where my strength is restored.
If I could meet one of these pillars of faith I'd want to meet Elisabeth Elliot. From the moment I read her first book I've been in awe of her faith and the way she articulates it. She is inspiring. She has given herself entirely to the will of God and in return he has handed her blessings along with extreme tragedy. Most people would have abandoned God if faced with trials such as the death of two husbands, but she hasn't faltered. She has remained faithful in spite of extreme trials and heartbreak.
I believe God puts people like Elizabeth Elliot on this earth as an inspiration to other Christians. I know she has been an inspiration to me. Her words have given me much needed reminders of my God's love and perfect plan for me on days when my frustration has grown overpowering and my patience has run dry. She quotes scripture that cuts to the core of my being. She gives insight that opens my eyes to my failings and inspires me to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:14).
Today it was just a short piece that left me humbled and renewed. It was entitled, "When the Music Stops."
"There are sometimes spaces in our lives that seem empty and silent. Things grind to a halt for one reason or another. Not long ago, in the space of a few days, the "music" in my life seemed to stop......" She went on to quote John Ruskin who wrote, "There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it.....How does the musician read the rest? See him beat time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and stead, as if no breaking place had come between." Elizabeth went on to write, "There was 'the making of music' in what seemed a hollow emptiness. It's His song, not mine, that I'm here to sing. It's His will, not mine, that I'm here to do."
There is nothing more to say, nothing more to add. She makes the point so perfectly. This life isn't our song, it is His. If we are finding ourselves in a place of rest it is because He wrote the score that way. It is not our job to scribble on the page and add a few half notes or quarter notes. It is our job to play it as it is written, performing each melody with the form, dynamics, rhythm and, yes, even pauses intended by the master composer.