“If it is true that you wish to follow in the footsteps of women like Amy Carmichael and Elizabeth Elliot, perhaps it would be good to ask yourselves what their lives looked like as they were preparing to go into their life’s work. What did Amy Carmichael’s life look like as a young girl before she went away to India? And what about Elizabeth Elliot? What was going on with her as a Wheaton student before she married Jim and left for the jungles of Ecuador?
Amy had an overriding passion to know God in a very real way. She was lit on fire at the Keswick Convention and would spend hours seeking God. She went down into the ghetto areas to minister to young girls. In other words, she didn’t just show up in India and suddenly become Amy Carmichael. She prepared herself.
The same was true of Elizabeth Elliot. She was already making the hard choices before she ever met Jim Elliot. She wasn’t looking for Prince Charming to come along and sweep her into some idyllic existence. She was well on her way to becoming the Elizabeth Elliot that we all admire so much. When he met her, he didn’t see a young woman who would have to be coaxed along and drug into sacrificial living. He saw someone who was already showing by her life’s choices that she meant business with God and for God.
One of the traps for young people is that their youthful idealism can be nothing more than romantic fantasizing about what it really means to be in ministry. But let me tell you something from much experience: Real ministry, the kind of ministry where souls are rescued from hell or where orphans are liberated from a life of misery, is hard. It is very hard.
I will use someone a little more close to home to further illustrate this truth: my wife Kathy. She had a dream job working as a manager in an insurance company. She was happy to support us as I went through Bible school and began Pure Life. But then the day came that the Lord asked us to leave our California comfort zone (i.e. families, friends, local supporters, etc.) to relocate to far, far away Kentucky. She didn’t flinch. For 18 months we had to live in a camping trailer and for several years she was the only female at a rehabilitation facility for sex addicts. And then there were the years of living in poverty: shopping in Goodwill stores (quite a drop from Macy’s), etc.
I think I can safely say that Amy Carmichael, Elizabeth Elliot, Gladys Aylward, Jackie Pullinger and a host of other young women were not merely romantics full of idealistic fantasy. They, like Kathy, were already living the “set-apart” life before they ever reached those far away shores.
Please understand that there is no magic wand that transforms you just because you say you want to live a set-apart life. You’re not going to magically become godly women ready to lay down your lives for those in need.
A life fully given to Christ in ministry is something you must prepare for.
Allow me to ask you a few pointed questions as I end this blog:
· You say you want to be like Amy Carmichael. How much of a priority is your devotional life?
· What do you think Elizabeth Elliot would think of the comments you post on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter?
· What would attract a Jim Elliot to your current lifestyle?
· Have you really counted the cost of going into God’s work?
There are some of you who have exhibited flashes of greatness, little glimmers of future Amy’s and Elizabeth’s. But let me encourage you not to stop short of choosing the same narrow path these women chose.” -Steve Gallagher