Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Whole Life

The violinist in the orchestra has submitted first to the instructor. He obeys the rules laid down by him and handles his instrument accordingly. He submits then to the music as written by the composer, paying attention to the markings for dynamics as well as to notes, rests, and timing. Finally, he submits to the conductor. The conductor tells him, by word or gesture, what he wants, and the violinist does just that.
Is there any image of freedom and joy more exhilarating than a full orchestra, everybody sawing, tootling, pounding, strumming, blowing, clashing, and hammering away for all they are worth, under the direction of the immense energy and discipline of a man who knows every note of every instrument in every concerto and knows how to elicit that note exactly so that it will contribute most fully to the glory of the work as a whole
? – Elisabeth Elliot

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a disciplined life wholly devoted to Christ is only for missionaries and those in full-time ministry. We are each called to different paths and lead very different lifestyles. But we have the same calling in Christ. This is the beauty of being a disciple of our Lord: many walks of life, but one vision, one goal! A disciple’s life is orderly and obedient, but never inflexible and rigid. Inflexibility suggests that one is working by the flesh and without the joy of faith. Christ is at work in us, making such an obedient, disciplined life possible.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. – 2 Cor 9:8

The life of a disciple of God is not burdensome, nor is it an empty existence. As Elizabeth Elliot once wrote, “A holy life is a whole life. The words whole and holy derive from the same root.”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “He that heareth my Word and doeth it, he it is that loveth me.” “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” “His commandments are not grievous.”
God is working grace for us through discipline. His commands are His enabling.

If Christ seldom makes offers without demands, He also seldom makes demands without offers. He offers His strength to enable us to meet His demands. - John Stott

Every moment that we go to Him, laboring in our prayers for others, for His glory to be shown, for His will to be done, for Him to be victorious over sin in our lives, God will be triumphant.
Every time we turn away from earthly pleasures to comfort and satisfy us and throw ourselves on Him to save our souls from complacency, God will be triumphant.
Every time we wrestle in our prayers and days of fasting, asking for His power and grace to help us live this life, to be equipped with the wisdom and knowledge of His word, God will be triumphant.
Your body may be spent as a disciple, for the road is not an easy one, but your inner man will be multiplied. His grace will always be sufficient.
I end this post on some simple illustrations of discipline and obedience given by Elisabeth Elliot in a book written to her daughter.

“...I can see a sailboat skimming silently along the horizon. It is a beautiful image of freedom. But the freedom of the sailboat to move so swiftly and beautiful is the result of obedient to laws. The builder of the boat had to know the proper ratio of beam to keel and mast. The one who sails the boat obeys the rules of sailing. A ship tacking against the wind moves deviously, but when she runs with a string tide or a following wind she takes to herself the power of tide and wind and they become her own. She is doing the thing she was made for. She is free not by disobeying the rules but by obeying them.
Modern highways are often called freeways, but how much freedom of movement would there be if each driver were encouraged to choose any lane, any speed, any direction that happened to his fancy at the moment?
I noticed on Boston Common a sign saying, “Please,” which the public was expected to understand was short for “Please keep off the grass.” Almost everybody had obeyed that sign and that’s why there was still some grass….This choice (of allowing the grass to grow) meant a restriction, a willingness to limit themselves to the walks. It meant not doing what they wanted to do in order to have something they wanted more.
You and I have talked about college students’ idea of freedom in dormitories. They don’t want lights-out rules or coming-in rules or quiet rules. Consequently this freedom of theirs to keep the lights on till all hours, to stay out most of the night, and to play records at 3 A.M. means that there’s no freedom to sleep, there’s not even the freedom to study, which means that students are no longer free to be students, the very thing they’ve come to college and paid fifteen thousand dollars to be.”

Drop Thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace

- John Greenleaf Whittier

I'll continue this thread of posts on discipline next week. My next post will focus more on how a set-apart disciple lives, thinks, and prays.

Books Cited and other such recommended sources:
Elliot, Elisabeth. Discipline: The Glad Surrender.
Elliot, Elisabeth. Let Me Be a Woman.
Piper, John. The Anatomy of Legalism and the Discipline of Prayer.
Piper, John. Daniel's Defiance of Darius in Prayer.
Piper, John. Taylor, Justin. A God Entranced Vision of All Things. Chapter 5: Pursuing a Passion for God Through Spiritual Disciplines: Learning from Jonathan Edwards by Donald S. Whitney.


Anastasia said...

a beautiful summation <3

(i changed my blog url btw)

anastasia said...

and this is it...