Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Imitate not Emulate

Dear Mrs. Shaeffer,
When I was younger, I used to kind of canonize great believers. I would put them on a plain to emulate. I would ignore any faults that they may have had. I would want to be just like them "when I grew up."

I actually think it wasn't the worst thing in the world. These great men and women of God had life disciplines, and lives of service and all-out devotion to God, that was definitely inspiring and changed the course of my life.

Well, if I had read your bio when I was a teen, you would have been one of my candidates for canonization. Instead, you have pointed me to Christ, and challenged me by your example. Your book, The Tapestry, has officially made it into my top 5 list of life changing books.

And, seriously, if I could be half the women, half the wife, half the Christ follower, you were, I think that would be quite a feat.

When I study influential women, I look for women who's hearts and personalities were a lot like mine. Not that I can't and haven't learned from other women too. I think you know what I mean.

But I love reading about strong women. About women who put their relationship with Jesus Christ first-above all else. About women who were Bible scholars. About women who respected their husbands. About women who served along side their husbands. About women who had God's world view. About women who left their foot print on the world.

Because, confession time...I want to change my world too. I want to leave my foot print. I want to be remembered. Just like you, and Elizabeth Elliot, and Amy Carmichael. I want people to think of me, and my life and be pointed to God.

As I read The Tapestry, I was struck by many things. I wasn't struck by your lack of faults. I was struck by how you allowed God to work in your heart, convict you, and change you.

I was struck by how human you are. A wife, a mother, a home-maker. Who got sick and tired. Who had 4 children.

I was struck by the way you weave a story. You truly are masterful at it. You call the weaving of all the details, "a tapestry." I call it "connecting the dots." Your love of detail, and bringing the facts together, spoke to my amateur storyteller heart.

I was struck by the fact that you were born in China. Your parents were missionaries with the China Inland Mission. I have read a lot of CIM via Hudson Taylor's biography. Interesting how that life that touched my life, also touched yours. I also find it very interesting that Eric Liddell was born in China, only a few years before you. And his parents were CIM missionaries too. Small world, and all that.

I was struck by the fact that you and Francis were such romantics. I loved reading the snippets of your love letters. Such a human element. So awesome.

I was struck by how frugal and creative you were. Even living on limited means you were able to  make a beautiful home.

I was struck by how you carved out time late at night to spend just with Mr. Shaeffer drinking tea. You were both so committed to ministry, but you kept this time sacred for the two of you. It was a good reminder to vigilantly guard my morning coffees with Mr. Hippie.

I love this picture. It seems totally not posed.

I was struck by how important prayer was in your life. From little details to big moves, you waited on the Lord. You would even pray until the wee hours of the morning when special guidance was needed. Such an example. Prayer seems to be the first thing that gets crowded out. Yet, it should be the last.

I was struck by the way you yourself started the Children for Christ Bible Clubs. How one club grew to a curriculum and many, many clubs. I enjoyed reading how you cut out all the flannel graphs. It was a blessing to read that you had a heart for children's work. I do too.

I was struck by your calmness in all the turmoil and uncertainty. Where to go, how to serve. But you didn't freak out. You rested. On God. I need to do that more.

I was struck by how you and Mr. Shaeffer ministered together. How he would lead his important informal chats around your table, and you would serve the guests dinner and dessert and coffee.

I was struck by the way you had your own ministries-ministries of writing and speaking, but you didn't feel in competition with your husband. You were truly a helpmeet for him. You took the low place not the limelight. You didn't have to be waited on. You weren't flustered by groups of 10 or 50. You graciously and joyfully served. You were flexible.

I was struck by the fact that you were an integral part of L'Abri. On so many plains.

And I am amazed by the fact that you are still alive. Almost 100 years old. (2014) That is quite the impressive life span.

 You have inspired me. Your account of your life has impacted my life. It has challenged to me love and respect my husband, to love my children, to serve and glorify God without reservation. And to let the chips fall where they may.

You truly are an example of the "older" woman described in Titus 2.

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

And for that, I thank you. 

And now it's time for a giveaway! It is easy to enter. There are different things you can do to increase your chances for winning. All are optional, all have point value. Who will be the lucky winner of this special package design to give you the perfect afternoon or evening reading experience?
This giveaway will be open until Monday at midnight.
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