Guided by Grace (Exodus 23:20)
Exodus 23:20, Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
Jim Elliot was unsure what to do after graduating from Wheaton College in 1949. He spent the summer praying for guidance, and on October 29 received a letter about the need for workers in Ecuador. Jim felt a “simple urge” in that direction. On November 25, his diary records interest in Peru and India. On December 1, British Guiana entered the picture. Four days later he wrote, Stirred for work among the Ecuadorian Quichuas again.
On December 17, his missionary plans narrowed to either India or Ecuador. On December 31, he wrote : O Lord, if you see anything in me holding back the revelation of Your will about Ecuador, uncover it. Had a letter from India today which ended, “I would rejoice to think the New Year would find you here.” Still I am waiting.
Early in 1950, he received acceptance from Wycliffe Bible Translator’s study camp in Oklahoma. Feel as though the Lord would have me there, whether I go to India or South America. Elliot arrived at the camp, still torn between two nations. The tutor assigned him was a missionary from Ecuador, and from him Jim first learned of the savage Aucas.
But India still burned within him. On July 4, Jim set aside ten days for prayer. On July 14 he wrote, I asked for some word from God ten days ago, which would encourage my going to Ecuador. It came this morning in an unexpected place. I was reading in Exodus 23 when verse 20 came out vividly. “Behold I send an angel before thee to keep thee by the way and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” Coming as it did, with such preceding feelings and simple believing for some promise, I take this as leading … to Ecuador.
This is the verse that sent Jim Elliot to his death, to his martyrdom, and to his glory—and that brought the Aucas, in God’s timing, to faith in Jesus Christ. In January of 1956, Jim Elliot and four other missionaries gave their lives in Ecuador in their effort to reach the Waodani (Auca) Indians. This fierce group was known to attack any outsiders, but the vision for reaching them with the gospel compelled these young men to take the risk. Not long after they set up camp near the Waodani village they were attacked by warriors. Refusing to defend their lives with force, the missionaries were killed. The news flashed around the world, and the story of courage and sacrifice challenged many to take up the missionary cause. Even today Elliot’s words live on: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Nothing of lasting significance and importance for God is ever accomplished without great sacrifice. Whether it is our time, our talent, our treasure, or even our lives, we must be willing to give up what is temporary for the sake of what is eternal. When we do, we are following the example and pattern of Christ and walking in His steps.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, Your Word has guided me to You, to my precious godly wife, the sweetest church I know, and to the hearts of those who are in need of You. There is no need to turn back now. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. AMEN!
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.