Through Gates of Splendor - a sensible Saint

Perhaps you'll recall from a previous post that I'm currently reading Elisabeth Elliot's book, Through Gates of Splendor, the story of the mission and martyrdom of her husband Jim and his co-workers in Ecuador in 1956.  In that entry I shared a quote from Jim Elliot.  Today I'd like to share some thoughts from his fellow missionary, pilot Nate Saint.

At the age of thirteen, during the forced inactivity of a bout of osteomyelitis, the young Christian first wondered if perhaps God was calling him to be a missionary. Upon recovery and renewed vitality, however, it appears that notion fell by the wayside as he pursued his other passion -  flight, eventually becoming an Air Force cadet.  Nate was on course to be an Air Force pilot until, on the eve of his first day of flight instruction, once again his osteomyelitis grounded him. His dream of becoming a military pilot would never be realized.  His new position was that of maintenance crew chief.  In his deep disappointment he immersed himself in Scripture, rekindling the love for the Christ he had known from his youth and once again feeling the call to missions.  He would become a missionary pilot.  He acquired an old airplane, fixed it up and practiced, practiced, practiced until the opportunity finally presented itself to head into the mission field.

He quickly became known for his intense caution, rehearsing every potential mishap - in the air or on the ground - in his mind and preparing for it.  He apparently took some ribbing for his "constant concern for safety....After all, a missionary is supposed to trust the Lord!"  His response to such attitudes is the bit of his philosophy I wanted to share today:
"Perhaps my reasoning is pagan, as I've been told.  I do believe in miracles.  They are nothing to God, surely.  But the question is one of finding the pattern that the Lord has chosen us to conform to.  I wouldn't be here if I weren't trusting the Lord.  Chances are that those who shrug it off by saying, 'The Lord will take care of you,' are the same ones who would hardly expose themselves to the bacteriological risks of working in a downtown rescue mission.  Forgive me if I feel a little strongly at this point.  I'm concerned about safety, but I don't let it keep me from getting on with God's business.  Every time I take off, I am ready to deliver up the life I owe to God.  I feel we should be quick to take advantage of every possible improvement  in carrying out the job before us."
He took the work God had given him seriously and did not presume upon God to do his maintenance or preparation for him.  He proved his love for God, his fellow missionaries, and those to whom they ministered by his utmost care for their safety. He used the gifts and abilities, natural and spiritual, that God had given him and expected God to work through them. He did not expect God to keep his equipment in good repair any more than he trusted God to fly his plane for him.  If any mishap were to occur, it would not have been attributable to neglect, lack of diligence, laziness, or presumption on the part of Nate Saint. When and if he and his fellow servants did die on the mission field, if he had any say in it, it would not be a result of neglect on his part, but for the sake of the gospel, pure and simple. And so it was.

Comments

Betsy Markman said…
Wonderful insights.
It reminds me of what G. H. Morrison taught from Acts 12:6-8, especially verse 8. Morrison wrote:
"All that you cannot do, God will do. All that you can do, God will never do. Trust Him to free you by bursting iron doors and leading you triumphantly from prison. But gird thyself; do not ask God to do it. Do not wait for the angel to tie on the sandal. It is only a fool who would be idle because he was assured the light had come."
Good stuff! Thanks for bringing this truth to mind.
Lisa notes... said…
I agree - this is good stuff! The sensible saint. I hope I can remember this bit and pass it on.

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