I did “mother” things today—just making sure Will’s fridge is stocked and the apartment is in good shape.
Just when I think I have Annapolis figured out, it takes a different turn all together. Now, according to the Jerusalem Post “Annapolis will change road map paradigm—Olmert PM ready to talk now, implement later.” Again, grateful that God is in control, not man.
“AOL buys Question and Answer service—Yedda”. This is an Israeli company that will help AOL compete with Google and Yahoo.
Packing tomorrow. For someone who only bought a pair of sandals, and a pair of earrings, I don’t know where everything is going. Could be some of the pottery I usually pick up. I did find some great handles.
Vol. 1 Issue 15, November 8, 2007
The weekly newsletter of True Potential Publishing
Week 3: Whose Purpose is it Anyway?
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
I discovered something interesting today. I looked up all the times “purpose” and “plan” were used in the Bible. In the overwhelming majority of cases, “purpose” referred to God’s purpose regarding man and/or creation. There were mentions of this man or that man purposing something, but the majority of references dealt with God’s purpose.
On the other hand, mentions of “plan,” almost always referred to the plans of men. Again, there were passages that referred to God’s plan, but in most cases, where “plan” was used, it was in the context of a plan of men. By the way, my search software used the English Standard Version as its default translation. The word “plan” doesn’t even occur in the King James Translation of the Bible.
So what does all this mean? Why split hairs? Aren’t purpose and plan just different ways to say the same thing? After all, isn’t the plan to fulfill our purpose in life? We want to be happy, and fulfilled; we want to be free from need and we want to be loved. Isn’t that what God wants for our lives too? Isn’t God’s purpose, or plan, for us to live long and happy lives? So what’s the difference between a “purpose” and a “plan” and why does the Bible focus on God when it speaks of purpose and on man when it speaks of plan?
The Bible indicates that plan tends to look at things from man’s side of the equation and purpose tends to look at things from God’s side. The biggest problem I see in our concept of purpose today is in just whose purpose we’re really talking about. We’re all too eager for God’s purpose to fit into our plans. We’re really big on believing that God’s purpose is to prosper us or to give us good health or to keep us safe from harm. But we’re not so big on God’s purpose being personal sacrifice or personal holiness, or personal obedience.
The tone of our prayers is too often, “God help me get that promotion”; “Help me pass this test”; “Keep us safe on vacation and help us all have a good time without killing each other.” How often do we pray, “Thy will be done,” and really mean it?
What if God’s will, His purpose for your life didn’t include health, wealth and happiness? What if his purpose for you was death? Sounds kind of harsh doesn’t it? Surely God’s purpose for me isn’t an untimely and hideous death? What if it were? Would you still be able to pray, “Thy will be done”?
Five bodies floated in Ecuador ‘s Curaray River . All the bodies of young men, the oldest not yet thirty-two, the youngest twenty-seven. They were family men; all had wives, four had young children. One of the wives was eight months pregnant. All of the men were college graduates, all were missionaries.
Their adult lives were just beginning and they were full of promise. They had undergone intense training and were dedicated to spending their lives bringing the good news of God’s love to a people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. Each of these men and their families had given up family, friends and a future at home to follow the purpose they believed God had put in their lives.
Jim, Nate, Pete, Ed and Roger and their families had spent months “in country” learning the language and customs of the people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. The five men had spent weeks flying Nate’s Piper airplane over a tiny settlement, dropping gifts and calling out in the native language, “We like you.” “We are your friends.” Finally they landed as close as they could; on a sand spit next to the river, still several hours by foot trail from the tiny village.
“Auca” means “savage” and that was the name the outside world had given to this remote group of people. The “savages” had a history of murder in every encounter with the outside since the conquistadors came to South America . They lived in the jungles of Ecuador ; remote enough that after every bloody ambush, they would simply dissolve into the jungle and the outsiders would move on to safer territory.
But by 1956 the world was getting smaller. Oil exploration, the need to develop agricultural land, and the authority of the Ecuadorian government and its army, were all making their creeping encroach on the jungle. A final encounter with the Auca was inevitable.
These five friends knew that if their encounter with the outside world was one of force the Auca would not survive. They would be exterminated as pests; enemies of the greater good of progress. The mission of the five was to reach this tribe, win their trust, and tell them about the love of a God they did not know.
Three days after their initial landing two Auca women and a man appeared at their camp. The first meeting went well; the man even took a ride in Nate’s airplane. Afterward the three disappeared into the jungle like they had come. There was no more friendly contact. Three days later the missionaries were dead; murdered by the Auca.
Five young men full of promise, murdered. All with wives and four with young children; all dedicated to serving God with their lives. Five young widows, abandoned in a foreign land, would have to live through the grief and some how put their lives back together. Nine orphaned children; one unborn and the others so young that most would not even remember their father’s face.
And they didn’t even accomplish the mission, the purpose, they believed God had given them; to share the good news of God’s love with the Auca people.
When those five young men prayed, “Thy will be done.” Do you think they had any idea just how that prayer would be answered? Was it really God’s will, God’s purpose that these five men would die on that sand spit in the middle of the jungle? Was it God’s purpose that five young women would lose their husbands and nine little children would grow up without their fathers? How could anyone say that something so senseless and tragic could ever be God’s will? Is it one of those stories we just chalk up to fate or, as we Christians like to say, “the unsearchable mind of God”? What good could ever become of something so bad?
The story continues ….
How the five men behaved in the midst of the massacre remained a puzzle for the Auca warriors who had slain them. There were only six Aucas and there were five white men with guns. Why hadn’t the white men defended themselves? One had fired his gun into the air as a warning shot and had inadvertently wounded an Auca when they grabbed his arm to stop him, but the white men didn’t use their guns in defense of their lives. Why, wondered the Auca, would they behave in such a way, not even to defend their own lives?
Rachel Saint, Nate’s sister and Elizabeth Elliot, Jim’s widow returned to the jungle to tell the Aucas why the five young men had tried to make contact with them. That they had wanted to share the story of “Wangongi’s” (creator God’s) love for them and the gift of His son. The women explained that these five men had made a commitment not to harm the Aucas, even if it meant giving up their lives.
The Aucas listened and they responded. The believed that Wangongi, creator God, loved them; that His own Son refused to defend Himself when men came to kill Him. They learned that the Son of Wangongi had come with a message of love as well; it was the same message these five men had wanted to share with the Auca.
Because of Jim, Nate, Pete, Ed and Roger the Auca’s inevitable encounter with the outside resulted in life for the tribe instead of death. They haven’t disappeared into the jungle or been exterminated by those who protect the progress of nations. They live in peace and worship the God these men had come to share with them. By the way, they’re not called Auca, “Savages,” anymore. That was a name given to them by the outside world. They’re called by their own name, the “Huaorani,” the “People.”
Gikita, the man who led the attack on the missionaries and personally ended the life of Nate Saint and Ed McCully with his spear, became a Christian and an elder in the Huaorani church. He had the privilege of seeing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up; a privilege the five missionary men never enjoyed. Gikita died in 1997 at the age of eighty-one. His final wish was to go to Heaven and live peacefully with the five missionary men.
Steve Saint, Nate’s son, five years old at the time of his father’s murder, has lived and worked with the Huaorani throughout his life. He summed up what he believed to be God’s purpose in the lives of the five men who died that day in the jungle.
God took five common young men of uncommon commitment and used them for his own glory. They never had the privilege they so enthusiastically pursued to tell the Huaorani of the God they loved and served. But for every Huaorani who today follows God’s trail through the efforts of others, there are a thousand cowodi (outsiders) who follow God’s trail more resolutely because of their example. This success withheld from them in life God multiplied and continues to multiply as a memorial to their obedience and his faithfulness.
Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming and Roger Youderian all prayed, “Thy will be done.” There was One will; it led them to the same place, they shared the same purpose for their lives. Their final purpose was their first purpose. It was planned for them at the beginning of creation. I’m sure it didn’t fit into whatever plans they had for their lives, but they were willing to submit their plans to His purpose. The death of these five men wasn’t a just tragic accident and it’s not that they hadn’t considered the danger they were stepping into. His purpose already at work, Jim Elliott made this journal entry on October 28, 1949, the year he graduated from Wheaton College ; “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot loose.”
I wish you all good things in life; that you would be happy, healthy and free from want. That you would live a long and prosperous life and watch your grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up. But more than that, I pray that God’s purpose would be fulfilled in your life.
Sometimes His purpose overrides our plans; that’s as it should be. There are some things more important than health, wealth and happiness. There are some things more important than life itself.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12: 24-25).
Nate Saint’s, Jim Elliott’s, Ed McCully’s, Pete Fleming’s and Roger Youderian’s story is told in the books, “Through the Gates of Splendor” and “End of the Spear,” and in the films “Through Gates of Splendor” (1967); “Beyond the Gates of Splendor” (2004) and “End of the Spear” (2006).
Steve Saint’s Christianity Today article “Did They Have to Die?” can be found at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/6ta/6ta020.html and http://www.atanycost.org/images/DidTheyHaveToDie.pdf.
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