Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Assigned Portion

An old radio program I stumbled upon today and thought I'd share. :)

An Assigned Portion

Elisabeth Elliot: Do we think of our lot as hard? In a measure, yes. But let's remember that no matter how hard our assignment appears to be, it is an exact measure, apportioned and given by the will of the power that rules our destiny. "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are theeverlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, continuing my talks today on "Whatever My Lot." I told you yesterday about having tea with Mrs. Vester, whose name was Bertha Spafford. She was the 91year-oldlady who had been the daughter of Horatio Spafford, the author of "It Is Well With My Soul," that beautiful hymn, the story of which so many of us know--how his wife and children were in a wreck at sea. The children were all drowned, and this lady that I had tea with in Jerusalem was then 91. She had been born after that disaster.

We talked about what the word "lot" means. It just means whatever happens to us, whatever befalls, whatever comes by the powers that rule our destiny. I gave you that wonderful verse in Psalm 16:5: "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure." God in His mercy measures out exactly the things that are best for us. We are to learn through the sorrows and the difficulties to love Him, to walk with Him, to show Him to the world, and we may learn to do what He did--to help lift other people's burdens.

In Gal. 6:2 we read, "Carry each other burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." I had a letter from a radio listener who has no mate, no children, no friends, no job. She's getting older and she is utterly miserable. She's asking me to help her with this. Well, I hope I helped her by pointing out to her the fact that she had no mate, no children, no friends, no job and that she was getting older were all a part of an assigned lot. You know, that woman could be very angry with me for saying that. She could say, "Well, what do you know about it? You have a great life. You have a wonderful husband. You have children. You have friends."

Well, I am getting older. I guess that's the only one that she would have to acknowledge was true. Is there anybody listening to me that's not getting older? You may be a long way from old, but we're all getting older, aren't we? Do we think of our lot as hard? In a measure, yes. But let's remember that no matter how hard our assignment appears to be, it is an exact measure, apportioned and given by the will of the power that rules our destiny--the will of God. I tried, of course, to turn her thoughts to the One who alone can meet her need--to turn to Christ in her loneliness, to offer it up to Him for His transformation, that she may be able then to lift the burden of someone else. The whole first chapter of 2 Corinthians is about Paul's sufferings and the ways in which God gave him the privilege of comforting other people because of the suffering that he himself had been through. That's true of every one of us.

Whatever the form of suffering that God has chosen for our lot and apportioned for us is there not only to teach us how to know Him and to love Him and to accept the lot that He gives us, but that we might also comfort other people. Out of Horatio Spafford's tremendous loss we have gained--by that beautiful hymn that he wrote. That may be the most important thing that he did in his life. Only God can judge that, but it's the only reason that most of us know the name of Horatio Spafford.

It was a revelation of Christ to him to realize that, though Satan should buffet and trials should come, here was a blessed assurance that kept him under control: "Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul." Without experiences of loss, bereavement, weakness, what knowledge or understanding would we have of the Savior of the world? He bore our grief. He carried our burdens and our sorrows and He calls us to do the same in this sin-sick, suffering, bewildered, lost world.

Do you know that beautiful story of the widow of Zarephath? In 1 Kings 17, God had been feeding Elijah the prophet in the wilderness by sending ravens to him with food every morning and every evening. But then the day came when the brook dried up and the ravens had been bringing him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he had been drinking from the brook. But when the brook dried up, because there hadn't been any rain, then the Lord said, "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food."

So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and said, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so that I may have a drink?" As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me please a piece of bread." "As surely as the Lord your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I'm gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and then die."

Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said, but first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have, and bring it to me. And then make something for yourself and your son, for this is what the Lord the God of Israel says, 'The jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land."'

So she went away and did as Elijah had told her. There was food for every day, for Elijah and the woman and her family. The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord. Tremendous spiritual lesson in that little story. Here was the most destitute of women. There were no more destitute women in Old Testament times than widows. She was out there gathering the last few sticks to make the last of the cakes that she could make from what she had left of oil and flour.

Imagine the arrogance of this prophet coming along and saying, "Make me a cake first." But she didn't hesitate. She knew somehow that God was speaking through that man. In her obedience and what she thought would be a great sacrifice, God completely replenished that almost gone store of oil and flour, and continued to replenish it. I have found that this is true in the spiritual life. If we accept the poverty and the suffering that God has given to us in whatever form it may be--and my poverty has not been financial, but there are certainly other ways in which I've discovered that I am poor indeed. But if I receive that with thanksgiving and offer it back to God, He can replenish my emptiness for the good of others.

I read you the story of a woman depressed, self-pitying and hopeless. My advice to her is "Spend yourself " Is. 58: 10 says, "If you pour yourself out for the hungry, then the Lord will satisfy your desires and you will be like a watered garden." The Apostle Paul said, "I am poured out like a drink offering." Isaiah tells us that Jesus poured out His soul unto death. Paul's lot in life was one of radical limitation, no physical comfort, unfairness, and abandonment.

If all was in vain, yet he was willing to be poured out like a drink offering. In Phil. 2:12-18 this is what he says: "My dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you to will and to do according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you might become blameless and pure children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you." I don't know what your lot is today, but can you say with Horatio Spafford, "Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 'It is well, it is well with my soul"'?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the encouragement. As I enter into a time of remembering great sorrow and pain with the loss of our Baby Joseph (Oct12,2010-Oct18,2010), I am able to look back and be reminded of the great Joy that has come with this great pain. I have identified so much with your posts. And it is so great to see God at work through your suffering as well. I can't help but to pray for you right now. Though I haven't seen or talked to you in forever, I feel so close to you as my sister in Christ.
    Melissa Dentici