Don Goulding - Blog

End of the Spear

I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24)

Twenty-eight-year-old Jim Elliot, and four companions, peered through ferns toward the Auca village. A squawking parrot flew up and set their nerves on edge. All Jim’s hopes were focused on bringing the gospel to this unreached tribe in the Ecuadorian jungle. Until now, these natives had only one greeting for outsiders—murder. As Jim waited amidst hungry mosquitoes, he wondered if the gifts they had air dropped would pacify, or if this was to be a hostile meeting. 

Blood curdling war cries tore the silence as painted warriors swarmed. The missionaries were committed to winning friends, so they waved greetings instead of their guns. Spears flew with deadly accuracy. The five kernels were slain to the ground and a harvest was sown.

While I’m inspired by Jim’s sacrifice, I acknowledge that his wife, Elizabeth, took the more difficult path. After the 1956 massacre, she went to live with the Ecuadorian Indians. She offered forgiveness and a second chance at the gospel. Many, including Aucas, came to salvation.

Jim died at the end of the spear, but Elizabeth lived at the end of the spear. She teaches me that it may be more heroic to live for others, than to die for Christ. With each night she slept in a hammock, and every meal of jungle food, she brought the tip of the spear to her own chest, for a tribe of murdering Indians.

How could the Elliots make such enormous sacrifices? It’s simple. They basked in the love light streaming from Jesus, then did what comes naturally. Only the unquenchable peace of Christ gives us courage to live at the end of the spear.

Prayer: Lord of the Harvest, multiply my life through death to self.

Fix the Story

God saw all that he had made - and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

I love storytelling because it lets me mimic the creative side of my Heavenly Father. He invents worlds, people, and events, and so do I. My creations are fictitious, while his are real. Still, we both make people and color them as we please. Today, I saw what I’d made, and it was good.

The sun sat on the highest peak and threw amber streaks at the window. The sky hummed with orange and mauve. The pueblo was still in deep shadow, but behind it, lavender mountaintops broke through a blanket of fog.

How would I feel if someone corrupted my words?

The sun sat up and barked, then he threw mud at the window. The sky was a humdinger of orange drips and mauve like nausea medicine. The dump town was still in depressing shadow, but behind it, lavender and pea-green mountaintops poked through a mildewed blanket to the polluted horizon.

My baby, the product of my inspiration, how could anyone dare tamper with it? And yet, isn’t that exactly what I do every time I bring sin into God’s creation? He made Eden perfect, yet we corrupt his work until its beauty is scarcely recognizable. Unlike my writing, God gave his characters free will, and they have changed the plot in the wrong direction. Look around the world today. This is not how God intended his story to end.

If someone minced my work, I’d find a way to rewrite it. Praise God, because that’s exactly what he is doing for creation. He is rewriting history into a new heaven and earth. By a supernatural plot twist, the death and resurrection of Jesus reverses every sin that deforms existence. God is fixing his story.

The Author of Life has not left his work of genius in the hands of hijackers. The pen is in his hand once again, and he is rewriting perfection into us and creation.

Prayer: Thank you, Mighty Creator, for redeeming the story.

Jailbreak

In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12, 13)

One of the low points in my life was in Ilorin, Nigeria. I was separated from my wife and family for three months and lived on bananas, peanut butter, and sardines. As I shared a bed with an old missionary, I built a wall of self-pity around my heart.

There was a scratching noise from outside my virtual prison. The mortar between two blocks crumbled and a beam of light streamed in. 

“This is a jailbreak. Get ready to come out,” the Lord said in a laughing whisper.

I offered one pathetic prayer in acknowledgment of his attempt. That made room for a larger praise of his grace, which, in turn, paved the way for more of his Spirit. In the end, deep satisfaction pillowed my head, as a blanket of peace draped my sleepy body. I no longer cared about the heat, my bunkmate’s snoring, or my empty stomach. My sweet Lord was all I needed.

Before I can be released from an undesirable situation, I need to get to the place where I can say, with Paul, that I don’t care how it turns out. Worship is the only way to reach that larger perspective. Each bad circumstances calls for a choice—cling to self-pity, or accept the jailbreak by redirecting into worship. Veneration of the Lord relocates my spirit—the real me—to the outside of my circumstantial prison.

Once I’m outside, I discover why the Lord was laughing through the mortar. There I was, crouched inside a tiny cell, while just beyond the walls were acres of the blinding glory, consuming splendor, and raging power of Jesus, Creator of life.

Seen from the outside, the picture of me covering my head under all that whirling life is … comical.

Prayer: King of Glory, be so real to me that I don’t care about earthly outcomes.