Ramblings from the Cove...

May 8, 2013

By Lars Gren

The rocking chair “sat” there three feet away, inviting me (that is, if a chair can issue an invitation) to come relax, take your ease -- there is always time enough to do the necessary thing tomorrow. But tomorrows work is already “sitting” in the chair. You see, organization is not a gift that I have, as Donna Otto from Phoenix will attest too. She arrived here once for a few days to straighten my office and did a superb job, but I managed to undo the good to my own detriment so that I’m forever looking for “misplaced” things and saying, “Now where did I put that letter.”

So it is this morning as I look at the rocker seat. There are three sections of mail towards the front with two more running perpendicular to the front and one stack on top—that one to keep the others from shifting about should I happen to bump the chair. What’s in the stacks? Oh, letters---bills—advertisements—appeals for funds both political and charitable—mission letters some of which we have never heard of along with gifts of pocket calendars—rosaries—wrongly printed address labels—all on the seat so that at this point the only way for me to be in the rocker would be to put a board across the arm rests and hop up on that with my feet three inches off the floor.

Now when Elisabeth was able to handle the correspondence it was responded to at once. The top priority of the day was not writing books or articles but the mail and her rule was that every letter should have at least a response. I do not have her ability in giving counsel but I am thankful that she had a file of answers to oft asked questions that I may use to send out along with some of the many quotes of others that she offered in her counsel. My brother-in-law asks, “Why don’t you just quit? People know that they are not getting a letter from Elisabeth.” True, but I think that people want to know that she has heard and been encouraged by the kind letters sent to her. I try to read some to her or tell her about particular ones whether or not she grasps all or any of it is up for a question. At times, when humor is needed, we also receive that -- as in a letter of well wishes sent to her with the salutation being, “I hope that you are enjoying these last few years of your life.” It is a very kind thought, and surely one that one would hope is true but it struck me funny wondering if she had any inside information. At times, Elisabeth would include sections of letters she received in responding to others and for those of you who have read Quest for Love, much of that came from such correspondence. We may live under different circumstances, but there are basic questions or difficulties that are common to each of us and thus can be helped by another’s experience.

Some time ago, we received a letter which fit the topic that Elisabeth often dealt with at retreats. I thought that I would like to offer a portion of it to those who are in a similar situation in waiting for an answered prayer and it maybe an encouragement for them. Kim gave me permission to use it and it would have come along earlier but the letter, and the permission to use it, got into, “two different rocking chairs” and reunited just prior to our six week “winter away” trip to Dallas and Orlando where I was unable to do anything until our return to The Cove.

Kim writes, “The very first time that I heard you speak was at the Philadelphia Bible College in PA.1987. You shared how you had been asked by a woman how to deal with her loneliness and you said, ‘“Be thankful that you have material for sacrifice.’” That statement among many others resonated with my heart because I had become a Christian the year after I married my husband Charlie. He continued to remain an unbeliever for the rest of our marriage of 33 years, but for the last four months of his life. He developed a terminal cancer and within 4 months he died at 61. He died in my arms and into the arms of Jesus Christ because when he found that he had cancer, he trusted Christ as his Savior and Lord. Those 4 months were a blessing of peace and trust.”

“I am writing because in the beginning of our marriage, my salvation changed me but very much strained our marriage. Your words and teaching were used by God to make all the difference in accepting, loving and submitting to my husband. I will say that without your words of wisdom and straight-from-the-hip counsel, I would have crumbled. God strengthen my heart and led me obediently in His will. What I would like to share with you is that after I was saved God had put into my heart the desire to pray for a man to come into my husband’s life that could love him and live the Gospel before him. Godly men would come and go, my husband was a tough-as-nails kind of guy, a police officer and his childhood was rough. There were times when our marriage seemed to be held together by a thread, a thread of grace. I often wondered how we stayed together. We loved each other but like oil and water, light and dark, we were different. God continued to provide the grace to persevere and love my husband as my head and honor him. After 33 years, that desire to pray for a man never lessened. When we found out that Charlie had cancer, my son Charlie Jr. came to his dad and shared the Gospel and he was saved. My son had always loved his dad even when they often had conflicts and strong disagreements while growing up. But over the years I watched my son love his Dad for the Gospel sake, even siding against himself for his dad. I came to realize that I had been raising the man God had given me the desire to pray for. How amazing. Indeed, God’s time for my husband’s salvation was to be 4 months before he died and I can say that God had transformed all the years of suffering to be like Christ’s and joy and glory were set before him.”

In closing Kim wrote, “I wanted you to know how much your life poured into mine and instructed me with godly counsel to walk in truth and trust in God. I am forever grateful for you. I am a women’s Bible teacher and conference speaker and I can only hope that God would enable me to be a woman that in part will carry the mantel of sound biblical teaching and encouragement for women as you have done over these many years.”

To this I know that Elisabeth would respond, “Thanks be to God.”

The fifth verse of William Cowper’s hymn, God Works in Mysterious Ways, must carry a special meaning for Kim as in those last four months she experienced the unveiling of her long time prayers.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

For those of us who have, as we think, unanswered prayers, may Kim’s letter and Cowper’s hymn be an encouragement to carry on.

God bless y’all and that’s it from The Cove.

Lars

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