Friday, July 8, 2016

Words of Faith: Ellie's story about faith, songs and victory

Look Up, Let Go and Let God
A Words of Faith story by Ellie Gustafson 


King Jehoshaphat, one of the few godly kings in the line of David, had the pagan nations of Moab and Ammon breathing down his neck. In faith, he prayed that Yahweh would help him defeat these enemies. 


Here’s what the Bible says in 2 Chronicles 20:20-22 (NIV), as they set out for battle: Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.


~*~
God promised to lead, provide, and care for his people if they would stick tight to Him. Failure to do so inevitably brought trouble. Read the Book of Judges for the horrendous result of disobedience. But when they obeyed, the Israelites rode the crest of God’s promises.

Why am I here, living in Haverhill, Massachusetts? God could have plunked me down anywhere in the world. But He chose to let me land in northern New Jersey with an average family and an above-average IQ. I did well in three schools, married well, bore three wonderful kids, and attended church all my life. These are the outer, human aspects of my life—the physical clothes I wear, so to speak.

A benign context, yes. But whose way would I choose in that context—God’s or my own? Marriage became my first “battlefield.” Jim and I locked horns repeatedly, with no hope of persuading the other of the “rightness” of our own positions. We would sit, staring grimly at the darkness. But then would come a moment of choice. Okay—can’t fight your way out of the problem? Try an apology. Back down. Refuse to fight.

Bingo!

But apart from the occasional World War, we’re often annoyed and quick to spout mean stuff. A really nasty wife is hiding inside me, and if I said everything that comes to mind, we’d likely be in divorce court.

I don’t want to be nasty, though, and my antidote is God’s inner clothing that gives me access to his grace, forgiveness, and joy. Bite back that ugly rejoinder. Don’t give in to the urge to fight. I can be a good wife if I stick tight to my Lord and keep my mouth shut. Jehoshaphat’s God is my God in a very real battle.

I am also a writer, desiring to link others with the God who cares and provides. It has not come easily, though. Wanting to write is a far cry from getting published.

Case in point: My book, The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David, took at least 15 years of research and writing, along with the hunt for a publisher. Had good endorsements, but no one wanted to take me on.

Enter God. An interim pastor returned and asked if I had found a publisher yet. He whipped out his son’s business card as a contact for Whitaker House.

Bingo again!

My second novel with Whitaker House seemed doomed at the start, but again, God provided an unusual circumstance to make it happen. Another novel is once more in the waiting room, and total trust is my best and only resource.

I’m getting long in the tooth—an expression that comes from telling a horse’s age by the length of its teeth. I have chosen to fix my eyes ahead, rather than on now or ago. Worship has special meaning for me. I study the Psalms, Ezekiel, Revelation, glorying in that ringside seat on the Real Life and Action of heaven. One foot here, the other there.

This sustains my faith walk with God. My basic job here is to sing the beauty and glory of the revealed I AM.

Let's revisit the text I mentioned earlier from the 2 Chronicles:

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 

Remember this lesson, in light of that Bible verse:

When life’s challenges seem insurmountable, it’s time to look up.

Sing!

Praise God for the splendor of his holiness!

Give thanks—for his love endures forever!

~*~
Author bio:

Ellie Gustafson began thinking up stories at a young age but did not begin writing and publishing until 1978. 

A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences include gardening, house construction, tree farming, parenting, and mouse wars—all of which have helped bring color and humor to her fiction. 

One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story. Learn more at www.eleanorgustafson.com
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7 comments:

  1. Love this post. Ellie, you are so real and such a good writer!

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  2. Bingo! Thanks for sharing hard-won life's lessons, Ellie dear. <3

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    1. Thanks so much, Allacin! Life's lessons are ALWAYS worthwhile--sooner or later! : )

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  3. Not only time the Choir(Praise TEAM) led Israelis into battle. Shows the importance of our role in leading worship, and PRAISING God asking for his protection!

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    1. The hard part is actually DOING the praise part in the midst of battle. Takes a lifetime of practice. : )

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  4. A little late in reading this, but a wonderful post, Ellie. So thought provoking.

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  5. Thanks so much, Marti. A late comment is sometimes even more encouraging. That you read and liked and let me know is SUPER! : )

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