A Worthy Response

I received this response from a dear, much-respected missionary friend just now and thought it was well worth passing on to all of you, particularly for the sake of those who may have been discouraged by the rather one-sided perspective in my recent post. I believe that what I said is true, but it would be a tragedy to lose sight of the other side of this. I know all too well the despair of self-focus, even (if not especially!) in the effort to please God. Praise the Lord for godly friends with the love and courage to speak up, balancing us out and ultimately helping us to think more biblically.

Elizabeth Owens

Dear Ellie,

Thanks for sharing what you’ve been through! I love you and am praying for you.

At the risk of sounding like a frilly ladies’ Bible study . . . one thing that strikes me is the fact that though you’re right about our need to deal with all the sinful thoughts and ugly inclinations of our wicked hearts, it’s also most definitely true and needs to be emphasized just as much (if not even more) to your heart at a time like this, how great and unchanging is your Father’s love.

My experiences on the field have been very different from yours — but I also passed through some pretty tumultuous times spiritually, and one of my greatest helps in finding stable ground to stand on again is the counsel I’ve received to rest in my Father’s love. I was facing my sinfulness head-on — and I was trying hard to deal with it, calling it what God called it. But when I focus on my sinfulness, it floods me out. Despite my ugliness, weakness, foolishness, unworthiness, and everything else, His love is deep and unchanging. And though you’re right that God doesn’t just tell us that we’re wonderful when we’re not, it is also true that we are IN CHRIST — who IS wonderful, worthy, beautiful, delightful to His Father! One of my supporting pastors one day encouraged me that day not to think of my love for God’s, but of His for me. That is a helpful thing sometimes! Looking at me is discouraging and black and really depressing — but when I can focus on my beautiful Savior, my Father’s constant, deep, and unchanging love — my world can be beautiful and joyful — and I love Him more than I ever could by worrying about how far short my love for Him is falling! So let me give you the same encouragement, dear one — I agree that we have to deal with sin upfront, call it what God calls it, hate it like He hates it — but sometimes you just need to look away, look up, and rest in your Father’s love for you.