Elizabeth Elliot asked me this question this morning as I read today’s portion of Keep a Quiet Heart.
She recounts the complete futility of the language work she had begun of three different people groups. For her this had been a lesson in the supremacy of Christ.
And I acknowledge my own struggle with working towards an outcome that is of my own design. Only to see it crumble to ashes and be something only He could design it to be. She asks me again if these “strange ashes” are acceptable to Christ. Not my intention, not the outcome, but our act of service. He, alone, is responsible for the outcome.
What I am responsible for is the trust. The sacrifice. She quotes Oswald Chambers who called this “breaking the husk of my individual independence of God.” She says that until this break comes everything I do is but “pious fraud”.
She then quotes Amy Carmichael.
But these strange ashes, Lord, this nothingness,
This baffling sense of loss?
Son, was the anguish of my stripping less
Upon the torturing cross?
Was I not brought in to the dust of death,
A worm, and no man, I;
Yeah, turned to ashes by the vehement breath
of fire, on Calvary?
O son beloved, this is they heart’s desire:
This, and no other thing
Follows the fall of the Consuming Fire
On the burnt offering.
Go on and taste the joy set high, afar, —
No joy like that to thee;
See how it lights the way like some great star.
Come now, and follow me.
The dark valleys will be flooded with His light. The deep sorrows will be comforted by His love. The daily drudgery is sanctified by His presence.
He is holy.