Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Through Gates of Splendor

I eagerly anticipated its arrival, so when I saw a cardboard box tucked into our mail slot, a gleeful squeal swelled from inside me. I would have skipped home except that I had my sweet baby perched upon my hip and a roll of junk mail adverts tucked under my arm as I tried to juggle the box upon my other hip.

I slit the tape, pulling out the books from the box one by one. And then there it was, Through Gates of Splendor, its glossy cover calling out to me.

I have heard tidbits of the Elliots, yet I was fairly clueless as to who they were, clueless of "their story".  Unfortunately, my childhood was not filled with stories of men and women who were passionate for Christ, risking all for the gospel sake, leaving behind the comforts and pleasures of modern society to bring the gospel to the beyond the reaches of what we call civilization. On the upside, now, here in my adult years, I am soaking up stories of missionaries- ordinary men and women devoted to an extraordinary God and determined to minister to lost souls- men and women who sacrificed earthy gain to pursue Christ.

With four children and a household to tend to, my reading is often a page or two here and there, so I have yet to venture passed the first chapter and am only on page 8, yet my heart beats wildly when as I read each sentence, and I anticipate the moment when I can settle down with the book again and read the "first-hand account of five young men whose obedience to God led them into the jungles of Ecuador, and ultimately into martyrdom". (Blurb on the book jacket.)

I admit, I have already flipped through the book to browse the photos shared within.  My curiosity compelled me to see what such men of God looked like.  Amazingly, they look like regular fellows.  They were likely called handsome and strapping in their day.  Jim Elliot was an educated and intelligent young man.  I'm sure people thought he was wasting his life by shipping off to Ecuador to minister to a people group who had murdered the last white man who attempted to do so.

Following his junior year in college, Jim writes to his parents, "Seems impossible that I am so near my senior year at this place, and, truthfully, it hasn't the glow about it that I rather expected.  There is no such thing as attainment in this life; as soon as one arrives at long-coveted position he only jacks up his desire another notch or so and looks for higher achievement-- a process which is ultimately suspended by the intervention of death. Life is truly likened to a rising vapor, coiling, evanescent, shifting. May the Lord teach us what it means to live in terms of the end, like Paul who said, "Neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I might finish my course with joy....'"

What great wisdom in such a young man!  Unfortunately, men of my generation do not have this understanding. How rare it is to find a young person pursuing the heart of God instead of chasing after the cares of this life!

I am really looking forward to digging into this book.  I do believe I will be posting about it again (and again!).

You can purchase it here for 9.99 (hardcover), or get the mass marketed paperback version for 5.99 .  There is also an unabridged MP3 available as well as a DVD. You can find it in Spanish. I've heard wonderful things about it, so... while I have yet to complete the book, I can guarantee that you will benefit from this true testimony!

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