Adapted from Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot (p .98)

When Lars and I returned from a fortnight in Scotland and England there was the expected pile-up of work awaiting us, and the usual temptation to feel overwhelmed by it. The suitcase had to be unpacked, clothes washed, mail opened, read, and answered. The house had been partially cleaned by the student who lives with us, but upstairs I had to deal with the dust. There were phone messages waiting, and phone calls we needed to make to family members. Do you know the feeling of utter inadequacy to cope? I’m sure you do. But I believe the enemy of our souls is specially alert at such times, seeking to use them to turn us in on ourselves rather than upwards to the One who stands ready to be our Refuge and Helper.

Laying all the work before the Lord on the first morning after our return, I asked for His help to do it faithfully, carefully, and in an orderly way. I believe He answered that prayer–I’m sure He did. Everything that had to be done in those first three days was done, and I couldn’t possibly have done it on my own. Then there was the lovely respite of Sunday, with time to read and think. I looked forward to tackling Monday’s work (radio talks, scheduling of speaking) at a clean desk.

Monday came. The day was committed to God as always. But I felt like the wheels of the Egyptian chariots which “drave heavily.” There were interruptions, distractions. I could not get on as expected. My mind was dull, confused. At the end of the day I could not see what I had done with my time.

Tuesday was a continuation of the day before. Where had those hours gone? I took my usual walk after lunch around Ocean Drive–a cloudless sky, a glittering sea. I walked alone, talking to God about my failures, asking Him to clarify things. When I got back home, such an unexpected source of help came to hand–-a letter written to my father thirty years ago by an old missionary. Things were not going well at that time with the paper, The Sunday School Times, of which my father was editor, and he was on the verge of what was then called a nervous breakdown. He had asked counsel of this old veteran, E.L. Langston, in Africa.

“The devil does not like that paper nor its articles, and is evidently attacking you in your inmost heart, not causing you to doubt so much as causing a spirit of discontent. Fortunately we both know that temptation is not sin, it is yielding to temptation that causes us to sin and I feel that you must count it joy that you are passing through these times of difficulty, for they are sure signs that the Lord is blessing you….

“There is another reason, I think, for the cause of the feeling within us. It comes from the flesh and self-introspection. It is good for us to look at self and know how loathsome it is, but with one look at self we must take ten looks at Christ….

“No one goes to church more than the devil does, and no one appears as an angel of light as he does. We are in the thick of facing powers of darkness who are determined to rob us of Him and rob God of us, and you and I, my brother, have just got to hope in Christ and rely on Him for His Spirit to direct our thoughts, our ways, and our works so that it is not us but Christ in us.”

Wasn’t it wonderful that that letter had been preserved so that I “chanced upon it” in the hour of my need? But that is so like the Lord, for it is through the tender austerity of our very troubles that the Son of Man comes knocking. In every event He seeks an entrance to my heart, yes, even in my most helpless, futile, fruitless moments. The very cracks and empty crannies of my life, my perplexities and hurts and botched-up jobs, He wants to fill with Himself, His joy, His life. The more unsatisfactory my “performance,” the more He calls me to share His yoke. I should know by now that mine makes me tired and overburdened. He urges me to learn of Him: “I am gentle and humble in heart.”