23 going on 80

I’m an old woman at heart, so it is no surprise that I’m about to quote the writing of an 83 year old.

Elisabeth Elliot is most commonly known as the widowed wife of Jim Elliot, a courageous man who was murdered during his efforts to share the hope of Christ with a native Ecuadorian tribe in the mid-1950s. Within her biography of her late husband, Elisabeth recounts an experience meeting with a group of Christian high school and college students:

I asked whether they had any heroes. There was silence. They looked blankly at each other, then looked blankly back at me…

I was taken aback. While they discussed definitions [of a hero] I remembered what a long list of heroes I had when I was their age. I would have had no difficulty in answering the question I had asked, nor would it have been necessary to define the word. Gideon, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Hans the Hero of Haarlem, Florence Nightingale, and Abraham Lincoln were on my list, along with a good many nineteenth and twentieth-century missionaries.

No, was the answer of my dinner companions. They had no heroes. Is there anyone, then whom you admire?

A short pause, then, hesitantly, well, yes-some rock stars, a few athletes-people not by any means always exemplary in many ways, but they had a goal they worked hard for.

Feeling very sorry for these young people, and a bit desperate, I asked if there was anyone they wanted to be like. The answer was an immediate and definite no. They wanted to do their own thing, be their own person. That seems to be a hard assignment. If we are to find the channel and the harbor, surely we need some lights to steer by.

I thought of the words of Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, whose who first spoke God’s message to you; and reflecting upon the outcome of their life and work, follow the example of their faith.” Many people had spoken God’s message to me in many different ways, my parents being the first. Daily they taught us to pray, to sing hymns, to read the Bible. Daily they set before us an example of faith. We were not aware of it then, but certainly they were the lights we were steered by.

You know that weird and almost unconquerable urge to yell, “YES THAT’S SO RIGHT!” when you really, really agree with something someone says? This is one of those things for me [along with almost every other statement this woman says. If there were no Jesus, I would worship Elisabeth Elliot].

It’s the era of New Age and Relativism. There’s minimal value in modeling your life after another, and infinite value on the concept of self-creation. I heard someone say lately that there’s little use in teaching your children moral standards, such as preserving sex for marriage, because they want them to be their own person and don’t want to brainwash them with their beliefs, but allow them to discover things on their own. That’s ridiculous. We are humans. Our development is largely influenced by our environment. We put to action whatever is modeled for us. If we don’t have something positive to model, we’ll be shaped by whatever else is around. There is trash all around. Do you want your children to become trash? …I digress. I told you, I am an old woman.

My point in referring to this excerpt is to declare my two heroes: Amos Patterson, my ‘adopted’ grandfather and, you guessed it, Elisabeth Elliot. Now that I’ve reached the early stages of adulthood, I am at a better vantage point to acknowledge the value of wisdom and leadership throughout my life.

I’m thankful that I’ve been shaped by standards and constructive guidance of my grandfather, Amos. There’s not enough memory on my blog to contain the infinite words that I could say about him. How we met, jokes we’ve had, holidays we’ve celebrated, basketball games he’s watched me play, boyfriends I’ve kept him from knowing about, prayers he’s said for myself and my family, discussions shared about Christ, decisions wrestled over together, songs sung, tears cried, embraces savored.

In brief, I met Amos at Dunkin’ Donuts when I was two and a half. My parents uprooted from Erie to Cincinnati, and my mom found herself with two young children, few friends, and in need of companionship. As she became a regular at the coffee shop, a friendly older man greeted her with kindness, support, conversation, and genuine love for her children. That man was Amos. He became my grandfather in every way with the exception of biology. Once a stranger at Dunkin’ Donuts, now a member of our family.

All I knew from the age of three until my teenage years was that he was always around, ready to tease me at my every move, and that he loved me. Unbeknownst to me, he was also praying for me, and every member of my family, to personally and faithfully know and follow Jesus. Sometimes directly, but often indirectly, Amos spent time trusting God to use him to lead my family to the hope and salvation from death found that is found in Jesus.

In summary, these are a few reasons why Amos is my hero:

*He has given me the gift of someone positive to imitate – not a model of perfection by any means, but whose heart is set on God.

*He has shown me the pattern of God’s sovereign love through his own actions through treating me with unconditionality.

*He has demonstrated that obedience is costly, but the rewards of obedience are invaluable. Living life with him has taught me that remaining faithful to God trumps all other priorities.

He has been on my mind a lot lately. The growing up process has been hard on he and I’s relationship. It’s difficult to go to college, get married, and move across the country, whilst maintaining the same amount of interaction with even those you love most. That’s eaten away at me a little bit. Amos is someone I love more than I can put into words, and I long to express that to him through my actions. I know, though, that whether our proximity is close or far, Amos is with me every day. He has shaped me. Several times a week I come to a crossroads that requires a decision, and in making that decision I use something he taught me.

I’m thankful for Amos’ guidance. I’m thankful that he has been willing to make sacrifices to invest in me. I’m thankful he has let God use him to impact my family. I’m thankful that he and my parents did not leave me to ‘create-myself’ by letting me figure it all out on my own. He is a light I’ve been steered by. Amos is my hero.

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~ by lauren beeson on August 5, 2010.

2 Responses to “23 going on 80”

  1. What a nice blog and tribute!
    You may be interested to know about a new Jim Elliot book – containing his own words. “JIM ELLIOT: A Christian Martyr Speaks To You” reveals Jim’s clarity of thinking and his passion for his God. (I’m biased since I had the privilege of editing the book.)

  2. […] Hanging with Amos […]

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