What their Mothers Didn’t know: Preparing our Daughters to Be a Remnant

When Elisabeth Elliot was a little girl running around her childhood home in Pennsylvania, I often wonder if her mother had any idea what lay in store for her young daughter. How could she have known that Elisabeth would grow up to become a missionary to Ecuador…that she would become a widow at the age of 29…that she would choose to stay in Ecuador and live among the very same Huaorani tribesmen who speared her husband to death, in hopes of bringing them to Jesus? What kind of inner strength and courage does it take to do that?

I think about Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, the sisters who risked their lives to assist and hide many Jewish refugees in the Netherlands during World War II. They worked with the Dutch underground for nearly two years before being arrested and sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Betsie died there, but Corrie lived through the horror to tell their story. They did the right thing, and they suffered for it. When they were little girls, I am certain that their mother had no clue what her daughters would have to endure. But regardless, they were prepared. They had the character traits instilled in them to be strong – to stand up for their beliefs, even in the face of persecution and death.

More recently, in 1994, Immaculée Ilibagiza survived the Rwandan Genocide by hiding silently for 91 days with seven other women in a small, damp bathroom. She spent those days in constant prayer, and she made good use of her time by teaching herself the English language with only a Bible and a dictionary. When the genocide finally ended and she was free, Immaculée discovered that her parents and two of her brothers had been killed, along with 800,000 other people. But because of the strength she tapped into within that 3-foot by 4-foot bathroom, she was prepared to take a job with the United Nations. Then she wrote a book about how she discovered God during the worst, most horrific days of her life.

These Christian women inspire me to no end. They were well-rounded, and they were confident. They were persecuted for what they believed, for what they did, and for who they were. But they were ready for it. They had what it took. Somewhere along the way, their parents had unknowingly prepared them to become heroes of the faith.

I so admire this level of courage and strength, and I wonder if my own little girl would be able to show similar fortitude. Would Ryley be brave? Would she have what it takes to make the right decision, even if it meant the possibility of great suffering? Will the character traits my husband and I are instilling in our seven-year-old daughter be enough to sustain her throughout her lifetime? Will she have and be able to draw on inner strength? Will she say, as David did in Psalms 91:2, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust?” (NIV)

We don’t know how God wants to use our children or what their part in this generation will be. I like to believe that He has big plans for my daughter – that He caused her to be born “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14) with a very specific calling on her life. He may call her to be a journalist in an Islamic country, or a military soldier, or a teacher in a rough part of town. Regardless of her career, she will undoubtedly be a spiritual remnant in a generation that is largely un-churched and knows little or nothing of the hope we have in Christ.

All the great empires throughout history either died out or were conquered at some point. The United States is relatively young; what if our empire were to fall? What if our kids are some day forced to fight for their survival? Will they have what it takes within them to be strong…to fight…to stand up for what’s right? Will the children of this generation have what they need to be spiritually sustained and to hang tight to God no matter what their fate? What are we doing to prepare them for their lives, and, most importantly, for eternity? What are we doing to instill lasting values in them? Are we hiding the Word of God in their hearts?

Parenting is a series of thousands of moments and events during which we have the opportunity to mold and shape our children. A good or bad person isn’t formed overnight. It’s all the little decisions we make on a daily basis that add up over time…decisions to let that sassiness go “this once” or to not deal with that tantrum “this time.” It’s easy to fizzle out as a parent, take the easy way out, and figure that they’ll get the lesson eventually. No, they won’t. Not unless we teach them now. Each of these moments and events is an opportunity to seed character into our children’s lives. If we want to have an extraordinary child, then we have to plant extraordinary seeds, one at a time. And it is so incredibly exhausting! So we have faith that our Heavenly Father didn’t entrust these lives to us only to leave us. No, He equips us. We parent our young ones, one day at a time, one decision at a time, one scripture at a time – with lots and lots of prayer and God-given wisdom.

Elisabeth Elliot’s mother was clueless as to the grief, selflessness, and courage that would be required of her daughter. Immaculée’s mom and dad had no idea what their daughter would endure and overcome at the age of 23. Corrie and Betsie ten Boom rose to the test and displayed the strength of character that their godly parents instilled in them as young girls. Truly, I pray that Ryley will abide in the shelter of the Most High…that she will know where her strength comes from and be able to stand strong in the midst of “the arrow that flies by day” or “the pestilence that stalks in the darkness.” (Psalms 91:5-6, NIV)  I hope for her sake that her world is one of happiness, joy, and peace. But if it’s not, I want her to have the spiritual substance she needs to be courageous…to be prepared, equipped, and ready to rise to the occasion and fulfill the incredible calling God has on her life, whatever that may be. And deep within me, I know that she will.

Originally published in SHINE Magazine 

Psalm 91 (NIV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the Lord, who is my refuge—

then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 “Because he loves Me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.

He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him
and show him My salvation.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

 

 

Vision for the Journey

As the watchman looks out beyond the rubbish, his heart begins to leap! “Could this really be? Is this finally the day we have been hopelessly waiting for?”  Amidst the clouds of despair and stench of defeat, there is indeed the sign of deliverance. The feet of the herald are hastily approaching!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7 NKJV).

Why is it that Isaiah’s attention was first drawn to the feet of this messenger? Positioned at the top of a mountain, we know that this herald would be too far away for Isaiah to notice the details of his feet. Even if Isaiah were able to see him closely, we can imagine that after a long journey, the appearance of his feet would in no way seem to be “beautiful.” No, the image that Isaiah is referring to is that of a herald leaping and running on a distant mountaintop at first sight of him! Without question, this messenger is carrying news of joy from a battlefield or from a distant land. Having this picture, we can clearly see that the appearance of such a man to those living in captivity would only be one full of excitement and joy! Obviously we know that a person bearing a bad report would not run with excitement and zeal to deliver such news of defeat to his people. At thefirst glimpse of him, the swiftness of this messenger has already proclaimed the great news before his voice had the chance to. The beauty in his steps was the first proclamation of victory!

Picturing the long journey of this messenger, we can imagine the many obstacles would attempt to hinder him from delivering this message. It is likely that he would run through times of extreme heat or severe storms. He may have lacked water at times or food. And what about the possibility of sickness throughout his journey? What was it then, that would continue to carry him through all these struggles to deliver this news? With every obstacle in front of him, he had to possess a greater vision. In the times when defeat and quitting would seem easiest, this vision would be fuel for his urgency. This herald saw those he cared about most. Perhaps it was his wife or children, maybe siblings or parents, who needed to hear that they would not live another day in bondage or fear, they were finally free! He knew the value of this message that he carried. Soon, he would be the voice to restore their joy, the first to tell them they would surely live, and not die! Nahum uses this reference and says, “… for the wicked one shall no more pass through you, he is utterly cut off” (Nahum 1:15 NKJV). Every minute this messenger was prolonged in his journey, was another minute that his people would live defeated, unaware that their victory had already been won. So, he continues to run, with haste, to proclaim that the years of captivity had finally come to an end. They had been set free!

“…Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?…” (Isaiah 6:8 NLT).  Who can be entrusted with such a great message of deliverance for those bound in captivity? God searches for someone who will finish through trials of endurance. Many of us have lightly answered that call saying, “Here am I, send me.” As we examine our hearts now, where are we in the journey of delivering this entrusted message? Are we still swift and eager? Do we continue to push through the trials of life with faith? Are we allowing obstacles of rejection, offense, or unforgiveness to hinder us from delivering the untainted message? In this life, our greatest call and mandate is to be this entrusted messenger. The enemy knows that he has already been defeated, but if he can hinder or distort the message coming forth, he can still deceive people to believe they have no deliverer.

This call may not be easy and the journey may seem impossible at times, but be encouraged, God doesn’t lead you down a path if He knows you’re not able to make it. In the times when you feel like the storms are too great, that it’s too difficult to go on, take a minute to stop and refocus. The Bible tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18a KJV). When we lose our vision and purpose for the journey, zeal and urgency will quickly follow. Paul gives us the greatest examples of endurance in II Corinthians 11:23-28. Throughout his life, he had been beaten, thrown in prison, persecuted and betrayed, yet he continued to keep his eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith (Hebrew 12:2 NASB).

There are dying people anxiously awaiting the sight of the beautiful feet swiftly approaching them. So many have heard the loud voice of the false herald in their lives, proclaiming to them that they will never be free, or even deceiving them to believe they are living in freedom as the chains continue to tighten. Meanwhile, the true voice of victory is being silenced by intimidation and insecurity. Too many believers have fought through the journey and climbed to the mountaintop, only to be timid and shy when it comes to declaring the message. When they finally get to the point where they are looking into the eyes of the enslaved, the enemy draws them to focus more on the appearance of the chains than on the power of their message. Often times these messengers yield to being more sensitive to their feelings rather than proclaiming with boldness that, “Our God Reigns!” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15 NIV). As His daughters, we must be the voice to proclaim, unashamed from the mountaintops, that our King has fought the battles and won!

A trustworthy messenger realizes the value of the message. Her feet are steady with determination, “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15 NIV). Obstacles come her way, but she is not swayed to the right or to the left. Clear vision and purpose carry her through every storm that rages and every battle that threatens. She is unshakable and unmovable. Having received her freedom, no amount of timidity or insecurity hinders her from boldly proclaiming this message from her mountaintop. Even from a distance, those bound in slavery are captivated by her strength and endurance. The first glimpse of her joy begins to restore hope to those in bondage. The praise that overflows through her life continually defines the undeniable beauty of this faithful servant.

Originally published in SHINE Magazine, 7th Edition

SHINE Magazine 7th Edition

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