Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Last week Sarah and I had cabin fever. I'm pretty sure that's how I ended up reading to her while she did the dishes. Of course, reading aloud to each other is such a common occurence in our house that would usually hardly warrent notice. Its the book I want to comment on.

This is the sort of thing Sarah does when she has cabin fever!

Sarah is working through a section in her world views course concerning the Christian view of suffering and so she's reading Edith Schaeffer's "Affliction" ... one of the few of Mrs. Schaeffer's books I haven't read. I had trouble reading without blubbering, not because of the sad stories - there aren't many sad stories in Chapter 5 - but because I started thinking about my roots.

Edith Schaeffer grew up in China, the child of CIM missionaries, and that heritage permeates her works. I felt like I was reading about my roots - I joined CIM/OMF because of the rich heritage of prayer. I read the books, I listened to the China hands... and I tried to model my life after them. But reading Mrs. Schaeffer's book to Sarah I felt as if somewhere along the line I have become detached.

I was particularly rebuked by her passage on the temptation "to take an academic view of prayer excusing ourselves, by hiding behind God's sovereignty, from ever asking anything in the wide areas God has specifically told us to ask - with faith as a grain of mustard seed and expecting changes in history as titanic as the removal of mountains."

While I was still contemplating this, I left for a Retreat at Megumi Chalet in Karuizawa. It was NOT a good time to leave home but the speaker, Jean Barsness, has been our prayer partner ever since we left Briercrest where she became the head of the Missions Department after her husband was martyred in Panama during our 2nd year of college (1974).

Jean Barsness, me and my sister, Ruth Mae Ghent
(Why doesn't anyone ever tell me when my hair needs combing?!)

Mrs. Barsness 4 messages just seemed to further the train of thought that began with reading to Sarah.

I can't remember exactly how Mrs. Barsness said it but Edith Schaeffer put it this way, "Day by day - when we have a drastically crushing load at the office or problems that seem to have no solution in our business; a crop to bring in from the fields or garden and then vegetables that need freezing far into the night before they spoil, or jelly or jam to be made before the fruit goes moldy; a pile of broken glass to sweep up and then carefully gather in wet newspapers, more on-the-knees care to get all the slivers in wet paper towels; a sick child who gets us up in the night when we are too tired to even finish the day's work before going to bed; noises shattering the air during our period of needed rest; a blast coming at us from a critic whom we had thought of as an understanding friend; dropping the grocery bag, leaving the most expensive bottles broken and the other things a soggy mess; in little and big situations of dismay and dismal awareness of our weakness and inadequacy for taking one more step in life - we can speak to the Lord, enter His presence in the context not of our imagination but of His Word, and bring our need of having His strength given us in the immediate situation."

It really was a time of going back to my roots in many ways - when Mrs. Barsness spoke of the "Methods of Bible Study" class back at Briercrest that really brought me up short. All my good intentions... lost in the business of surviving Japan.

Some of my favorite OMF colleagues

Mrs. Barsness told so many good stories. So did my friends and I loved hearing their stories, too.

One last quote from Edith Schaeffer "There is no doubt that we are meant to pray, believing that He is able to answer. We should have a growing history - like a trail of footsteps behind us in an unbroken field of snow- which will bring to mind that great reality which Jeremiah was reminded of as he looked back and spoke forth with great conviction: 'Great is thy faithfulness...' We should be able to look back and gain courage to go on because of the trail of answered prayer. It should be part of the fabric of life."


JanJapanPotter said...

Hey Laurie, I found your blog. It's great. I'm so glad you made it to the ladies retreat. Hope it was good. Sorry to miss it.

Luke Elliot said...

Hi mom, the life of prayer is something I've been thinking a lot about--living and praying in the context of God's word and His eternal Kingdom. Martin Luther was a huge champion for recognizing the sovereignty of God, and they say he prayed four hours a morning.

Laurie Elliot said...

The retreat was wonderful, Jan. I'm so glad I went. Linda Welch's music was incredible. (But I'm glad that I wasn't her teacher when she was little! She's kind of hyper:-))

And, Luke, I'm glad you're thinking about prayer. Of course, as Edith Schaeffer put it "We are not to sit and talk half the night about whether or not prayer is worthwhile. We are to talk directly to the one who told us to ask Him."