What do we do when we face experiences that seem to shake our previously held views about the way life is? Elisabeth Elliot shares some thoughts on how here ideas were tested in her time living among the Huaorani people (whom she refers to by term “Aucas”) in Ecuador, and the kinds of questions she was led to ask as a result:
A missionary friend of mine once said, “Things were simple before I went to Africa. I knew what the African’s problem was, and I knew the answer. When I got there and began to know him as a person, things were no longer simple.”
When, on the first night of our arrival in the “savage” Aucas’ village, they gave us houses to live in, food and water and wood and fire, things were not so simple for me.
My categories began to crumble.
I had thought I knew what a savage was like. I had thought I knew exactly how the gospel would change him. As weeks passed, I began to realize that not only had I been mistaken about these things, but very likely I was just as mistaken about some other categories which had seemed clear before. How readily I had seen Christian virtues in those I called Christians in my own country, and the “works of the flesh” in those who did not bear the Christian label. What was I now to do with the apparent manifestation of virtue – peace, longsuffering, kindness – in those who had never heard of Christ? Things were not what I had thought. What was I to do then? Should I reject facts? Or should I begin to trust God in a new acceptance of my own ignorance and His saving responsibility?
When I have tried to tell people truthfully what I found among the Aucas, I have sometimes been asked (with a hint of hostility), “Well, what are you trying to say?” I am trying to say what is, and it is for us to bring to bear upon these facts, as upon all the facts of our existence, the light of our faith.
If there are inexplicable, if there are ambiguities, they are but new stations in our pilgrimage, and we have a Leader, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, who wants us to follow Him to maturity.
To get the full sense of where she goes with these thought, I recommend you check out the whole book…