Monday, January 18, 2016

Living in Goshen: God's best

Jim Elliot was a Christian missionary to the Auca (or Huaorani) Indians of Ecuador. He and four other missionaries were killed by the Indians they had gone to serve on January 8, 1956. His wife, Elisabeth, continued his work with the Aucas after his death, and many people turned to Christ because of their ministry.   
His life was short, but not without a lasting impact. Three of his quotes have significant meaning for me. I think you'll appreciate them, as well. 
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." (from his journal)
"Wherever you are, be all there. 
Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."
"God always gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him."
The last Elliot quote is my personal favorite. I was reminded of it today as I read about Jacob/Israel and his family's move to Egypt. They were shepherds, with large herds of goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys. (Gen. 32:14,15)
 There was one problem with their move to Egypt. The Egyptians didn't like shepherds. They considered shepherds "loathsome". (Gen. 46:34) 
I freely admit that I'm not as nice as God. If seventy people I thought were "loathsome" decided to move to my town, I would not have given them my best land. 
I'm also not as bold as God. If I'd taken my flocks into a place that hated people like me, I'd have asked for their worst land, just hoping they'd let me stay. 
Fear would have given me less than God's best.
But God. God is not like us. 
Jim Elliot was right. "God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him," as Israel soon found. 
When Israel met with Pharaoh, he told him that he and his family and flocks had come to sojourn in Egypt. "Please let us live in the land of Goshen." 
It surprises me every time I read it, but the Pharaoh said, "Sure. That's the best land we have. Of course you can have it. Even though you are loathsome in my sight." (That's the Leanna paraphrase, but you get the idea.) There was no reason to give the best land to these "loathsome" people, except for the orchestration of God. 
In our culture, aggressively pursuing what we want is valued, but that's not what Jim Elliot did. He was "all there" where God placed him. He gave his life for Christ, and that sacrifice helped trigger a modern mission movement. God's best wasn't what we'd have chosen, but Jim Elliot's life had more impact in a few short years than most of us will have in twice that time. He left the choice to God.
So, too, Israel followed the direction of God to Egypt and left the choice to God, who gave him the best land in the only place with food. 
It's not easy to wait for God's best. Sometimes, fear has convinced me to accept second best, thinking God's best will never come. Sometimes, I've been unwilling to wait. In both situations, I've ended up with what was clearly less than God's best. Looking back, waiting would have been so much better.
Relax. God is still on His throne. He is still active in the lives of His people, including yours and mine. 

Leave the choice to God. Allow Him to work in His way and His time. It's the only way to be sure we have His best, His timing every time.
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In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links: How to Live LongerIs Longer Life Worth the Cost of Obedience?The Changing of Our Culture: Physician Assisted SuicideThe Opportunity in Trials The Monarch Migration Badge,  The Sermon Without Words, and A Matter of Perspective.
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