Friday, July 29, 2016

Through Gates of Splendor

Through gates of splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

I was told from the beginning of this book that five men, missionaries to natives in the jungle of Ecuador, were killed when they entered the area of a violent, little-known tribe.

Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint.

I was ready for the book to be somber and depressing.

However, the story, written by the wife of one of the men killed, was lovely.

The author gave background of each of the men and, by their own writings and the witness of those close to them, told how they’d decided to come to Ecuador. She gave detailed description of their lives and work with the natives of the country, and of how they came to the desire to reach the Huaoranipeople, then known as the Aucas.

The story was delightful, often humorous,, a lively telling of these young men and their wives as they prepared for and took on this work.

Much of the telling came from letters and journals from the five men, right up to the last days when they landed in the jungle near the Auca people. They expressed excitement, humor, frustration, joy, exhaustion, and a strong commitment and desire to share the grace of Jesus with these people who had never heard of him.

The part of the book that told of their death and right after was surely sorrowful. But, through God’s care, the wives held on to their faith and trust in God. Not only that, but many of the families remained to continue in the mission work in Ecuador.

From the beginning, the Auca people were still loved and still sought after, until Christianity found a beginning with them. This can only be through the grace of God and the willingness to obey of those who trusted him, even through their great stress and tragedy.

The author gave two epilogues. One from 1958 when she, her three-year-old daughter, and the sister of another of the men, went to live with the Aucas, at their request, for two years.

The second epilogue was from 1998. The author went back to visit these people decades after the event. With warmth she told of meeting with some of the people she’d worked with, including two of the men who killed her husband, who were now Christians.

I found the second epilogue to be filled with wisdom, about the event from forty years earlier, about the wonder and mystery of God’s will. This final writing in the book touched me as deeply as the story that came before.

The author said that this event, which had touched the hearts, stirred the thinking, and changed the lives of many people, was still just one event in God’s time. She said she came to know that God is God. Though his ways are far beyond our understanding, Elisabeth Elliot said, she could only find rest in his will.

Job 41: 11: Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Esther Has an Adventure

A few years ago when my son Caleb was still in college, I wrote this story for him and his guide dog Esther.

Esther jumped up on the bed and started growling and licking her friend Caleb.

Caleb hugged her back, but he gave a big yawn. She looked at his cell phone. It was only three in the morning. This should be a good time to play.

“Shh shh, don’t wake up David.” Caleb said.

David was their roommate.

“Why? I can go jump on his bed,” Esther said, panting happily.  

“No, no,” Caleb said, putting his arms around her. “Let’s just try to sleep.”

Sleep? Esther didn’t know what kind of fun that would be, but she pushed Caleb over so she had enough room in the bed, and took a big breath to sleep. She breathed on Caleb’s face, and her breath smelled nice and stinky, just the way Caleb liked it.

Esther enjoyed playing with Caleb all day long. They played in classrooms, in the lab with all the computer stuff, in their room, where Caleb teased her and threw her toys and tried to tug them out of her mouth. Sometimes she let him win these games. They went to the eating room, but only Caleb got to eat there. He told her to lay down under the table, and he didn’t drop any crumbs for her, but at least the food smelled good.

And sometimes they got together with friends, and went to people’s houses and to restaurants. Caleb’s friends all loved Esther, and she liked them too.

But Esther wanted an adventure.

“Caleb,” she said on another night, scooting him over in bed at 4:00 a.m. “I want an adventure.”

“Huh? What?” Caleb said. “What do you want?”

“An adventure,” Esther said again.

Caleb finally woke up and sat up to give her a hug. “What kind of adventure?” He asked.

“I want to go home, and visit our family, all by myself. I want to get on the bus and ride it by myself.”

“Hmmmm, well,” Caleb said. “That would be an adventure. Let’s think about it for a while, okay?”

That was the problem with humans. They wanted to take time to think about things all the time. Dogs knew that the best way to get anything done was to jump up, growl, pant, turn in circles, and go, go, go!

Esther asked Caleb about this adventure a couple times again in the next few days. He just said, “Hmmmm. That’s an interesting idea.”

Esther finally decided one day she would just go. Caleb wouldn’t mind.

They were in the lab, and Caleb was working on the computer. He was looking at something interesting and hadn’t said anything to Esther in quite a while. This would be a good time.

Esther got up and didn’t even shake her ears. She walked quietly out of the room, making sure her toe nails didn’t touch the floor.

She passed an office with the door open. The guy said, “Hey, Esther, what are you doing? Are you going to get a drink?”

She just kept walking. That was dumb. She couldn’t get a drink of water without Caleb’s help. Come to think of it, she was kind of thirsty.

She had to wait for someone to come in the building, than caught the door while it was open and went out. Once outside, she jumped up and down. She felt like her adventure was really starting!

She saw a guy who was in one of Caleb’s classes. “Hey, Esther, where are you going? Where is Caleb?”

She just kept walking. She didn’t try to answer. Caleb was the only human smart enough to understand her when she talked.

After a minute she looked behind her. Good. The guy wasn’t looking at her any more, and he had passed the building where Caleb was. He wasn’t giving up her secret.

Soon she saw the big bus that she and Caleb rode on. She hurried and jumped on and looked around for something fun to see or do.

A lady sitting nearby dropped something on the floor that looked like a rope toy. Esther grabbed the rope and growled.

The lady grabbed the other end and pulled hard. Oh, this was fun, growl, growl, pull, pulllll.

But then the lady yelled. “Hey, somebody help! This dog is trying to take my purse.”

Esther quickly let go. The lady must not want to play after all.

“Hey, grab the dog!” somebody yelled. Several people tried to grab her, but Esther managed to slip through their hands. What was wrong?

“Hey,” somebody else yelled, “Isn’t that the dog that belongs to that blind guy? Why did he let her out by herself?”

Now they sounded like they were mad at Caleb. She didn’t want people to get mad at Caleb.

A few other people tried to get her. There was a lot of yelling. “Don’t let her get away!” “Grab her! Grab her!” but she kept pulling away, and then -- oh good – the door opened.

Esther got out and started running. She wasn’t sure which way to go, but she just wanted to get away from those scary people.

Finally she had to stop running. She stood still, trembling and panting. She looked both ways, but it didn’t look like anyone was following her.

After a few minutes she felt better and started walking again. She was not sure which way to go. She looked around for something that looked like she had seen it before or had been there with Caleb.

Then there was a guy coming toward her. “Hey puppy!” he said to her. She didn’t like people calling her puppy, except Mama Kathy.

He moved closer to her. “Hey, puppy, want to come home with me?”

No, she did not want to come home with him. He was kind of a sketchy looking guy.

Before he could touch her, Esther started running again, as fast as she could. After a little while, she saw the bus with the numbers Two and Six on it
 That Caleb had taught her. Esther was scared of getting on a bus now, but when it stopped, she got on. She had to find home.

Esther moved as far to the back as she could, and went under a seat. After a few minutes, she heard a lady’s voice that she thought she’d heard before. “Hey, aren’t you Esther? Where’s Caleb?”

Esther tried to pull even farther back under the seat. But the lady didn’t say anything else.

After a few minutes Esther lifted her face just a little bit and tried to look out the window. There were some places that looked like they might be close to home. There was that big store where Caleb sometimes bought her bag of food.  Oh, and there was the nice church that was on the end of the street where home was. The next time the bus stopped, Esther quickly got off.

Esther started running again. She was almost there.

When she got home, she almost barked. She ran up the steps, and banged against the front door, whining as loud as she could.

Daddy Murray opened the door, and best of all – there was Caleb!

She ran to Caleb and jumped up on him, giving his face lots of kisses. Then she ran around the house, through the kitchen, the dining room, living room, and then she ran it all over again. Finally she stopped in the living room and fell to her belly. She rubbed around on the floor and whined happily.

Mama Kathy was sitting in her chair. Esther went to her, and Mama rubbed her side until Esther fell down so Mama could rub her belly. Oh, it was good to be home.

After a little while, Caleb picked Esther up and carried her up to their room. She loved when Caleb carried her. Caleb put Esther on their bed and said, “I’m so glad to see you. I was afraid you might be hurt, Esther.”

“It was scary,” Esther said. “People got mad at me just because I tried to play the rope game with a lady. And a sketchy guy tried to take me to his house. And I couldn’t find the way home for a long time.”

“Please promise me you won’t go off by yourself again, Esther.”

“I promise,” Esther said, whining happily and licking Caleb all over the face. “Next time I go on an adventure, I’ll take you with me.”

Friday, July 15, 2016

What Are Colors Like?

I recently read this article in the Spring 2016 issue of DIALOGUE MAGAZINE. It is beautifully done. The vivid splash and dance of words remind me why I want to be a writer. Used by permission.

What Are Colors Like?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reprinted from the Winter 1965 issue of DIALOGUE (originally published in the Peoria, Illinois, JOURNAL STAR, issue of August 5, 1965).

EDITOR’S NOTE BY DON O. NOLD: A columnist who calls himself “Andy” received this question from Fred Oliver, a blind student of Lansing, Michigan. The answer he gives is poetry in prose form and could become a classic of descriptive writing.


There is more to colors than meets the eye. They often prod the feelings we get from scents and sounds, from touch and even taste. They trigger moods that stay with us long after they are faded and gone.

The biggest color is blue, the high sky serene above the storms and the wide ocean deep below the waves. Its courtesy has no limits, and its glorious harmony is an anthem of murmuring rivers, of choirs and pealing organs. It recalls the freshness of May and the bland touch of well water.

Green is a fair lady, fragrant and soft-spoken. There is a separate green for every tree and more to carpet the fields in checkerboard squares—all perfumed with pines and parsley, sages and mint. Green recalls a lilting lullaby, a leafy rustle of whispering breezes.

Brown is low and rough like the ground and sturdy tree trunks. It has the furry touch of guide dogs and bears, bags of cloves and spicy cinnamon, comforting coffee and chocolate. It buzzes with the bees, hums with throaty drums and keeps toe-tapping with thumping puppy tails.

Red is fierce as a flame and fast as a beating heart. It is a loud laugh and a wild dance, always bold and on parade. It is the stabbing color of wounds and warfare. And sometimes, it dons a festive mood of flags and Christmas berries and offers a bowl of smooth, round apples.

Deep, heavy gray roars with the thunder. It has the touch of steely metals, the power of ships and bridges. Light gray is a dreamy mood of swirling smoke. It tiptoes away a misty morning and returns like a weary echo, bringing a whiff of lavender and a surprising touch of dew drops.

Yellow whistles a high, shrill tune with the happy birds. It nods to the warm sunbeams and dances with the wind-blown flowers, cheek to cheek. It teases and tempts with mustard and melons.

Orange has a merry mind of its own. It is a playful Halloween prankster that ho-ho-hos like a tuba and rolls downhill like a pumpkin.

Pink has a shy smile and trills a soft love song. It has the satiny grace of seashells and comes with frothy frills, with bows and birthday cakes.

White stands out crisp and clean, proud and straight as a cane. It recalls starched aprons and new bread, smooth marble, and the tingling touch of snowflakes.

Black has nothing to say. It hikes the velvety mysteries of midnight and the silent secrets of empty boxes.

Each color is a ladder of graded shades. Its dark, heavy tones step up to paler tones, lightly rinsed in watery washes. The colors and all their tones are in the rainbow. This symphony of distant music spans the sky in an immense half-hoop of banded ribbons. And no human eye is sharp enough to see or count all its colors.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wordless Groans

Romans 8:26-27: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

With the horror happening in our country, I want to pray, but I don’t know what to say. Praise God he helps us even with this need.