Here now is Elisabeth Elliott:
Most of us enjoy talking about ourselves, our problems, our escapades...we want to defend our mistakes ("I was really down that day") and explain our failures ("Couldn't get my head together"). Sin, of course, is highly undignified. We dignify it by calling it something else- trauma, hurts, "syndromes" - We would far rather discuss processes and symptoms than make the radical turnaround that means repentance. It is nicer to be soothed than summoned. We are tempted to think that we shall, through psychological treatment or counseling, arrive at an understanding of ourselves which is deeper and closer to the truth than that which the writer of the book of Proverbs from the Bible perceived. We move much closer to the edge of a precipice where we abandon the protection, restraint, and control of the everlasting Word and may plunge over into the abyss of subjectivism.
I am reminded of the jungle rivers that I used occasionally to travel by canoe. They meandered. It was possible to get where you wanted to go by following the tortuous curves and loops, some of them almost doubling back on themselves; it was also possible to get there on foot by cutting straight through a curve, covering in ten minutes what it would take hours to cover by canoe.
To search out and sort out and hang out all the whys and wherefores of what we call our problems- a few of which just might be plain sins- may be one route to the healing of certain kinds of human difficulties, but I suggest that it may be the longest way home. I say this at the risk of being labeled simplistic, reductionist, obscurantist. But where, I want to know, does Genuine Understanding Begin??
No man knows the way to it;
It is not found in the land of living men.
The depths of the ocean say, "It is not in us, "
and the sea says, "It is not with me."
Red gold cannot buy it,
Nor can its price be weighed out in silver...
Where then does wisdom come from,
and where is the source of understanding?
God understands the way to it,
He alone knows its source.
And He said to man:
The fear of the Lord is wisdom,
and to turn from evil is understanding.
-from Job 28, The BibleThe ancient and tested source is revealed in a Book whose reliability, relevance, and accuracy ALL FIELDS of human knowledge continue to corroborate. It is The Bible. My plea is that we START with theology, with the knowledge of God. Without that knowledge, given only to those who turn from evil, there is no jurisdiction in ultimates, no knowledge even of ourselves, no certainty of any kind. My plea is that we give the Word a first hearing, take our bearings there, and turn only after that to whatever branch of science may apply to the need in question. Chances are it will be a more direct route to the truth, a shortcut to peace. The Scriptures encompass the whole man, his whole world, and reveal the Lord of the universe. In them we have not only a perfect frame of reference, but specific and practical instruction, reproof when it's reproof we need, correction when we've gone wrong.
I have found this to be true every time I have tried it. Recently I was in turmoil about some things somebody said to me. I lay awake at night, mentally enacting whole scenes and conversations in which we would "have it out", dragging everything into consciousness, saying everything that was in our minds, pitting what she said against what I said, what she did against what I did, defending and offending, complaining and explaining. I had heard this was what we are supposed to do- get it out, get it up front, express it. But what a devastating business! What a way to consume time, not to mention emotional and spiritual energy! The very process itself gives me the chance to add to my own list of sins against her. "When men talk too much," says Proverbs 10:19, "sin is never far away; common sense holds its tongue."
The Bible prescribes, "Turn from evil. Let that be the medicine to keep you in health." Proverbs 3:7,8 To cut the straight path, a good deal of the jungle of my selfishness has to be slashed through. But is is a much shorter way home.
Thank you, Elisabeth Elliot.
(all photos from Google Images)