Always Present: A Letter From Jim

Always Present: A Letter From Jim

Always Lord

Jim Elliff

O God, my ever present help
In floods of pain and trouble,
You are my refuge and my strength,
Though earth’s foundations crumble.
Always present, Always helping,
Always Lord Almighty!

O God, in You I cannot fear,
Though mountains fall around me,
Though waters of adversity
That roar and foam surround me.
Always present, Always helping,
Always Lord Almighty!

O God, while kingdoms rage,
My secret doubts may overtake me.
But You are here; I will not fall;
At break of day You’ll save me.
Always present, Always helping,
Always Lord Almighty!

O God, You make my wars to cease,
One word brings desolation.
Be still, my soul, and know He’s God;
In Him find consolation.
Always present, Always helping,
Always Lord Almighty!

Jim Elliff 1989, based on Ps 46

Dear CCW family,

I sat alone in a dorm room provided for guests in the Black Forest of Germany after speaking during the day to students at a well-known Bible School who seemed to reject vehemently what I was saying. It wasn’t my rhetorical ability that went haywire. I had said exactly what I wished to say. I felt convicted as I spoke and sensed God’s leading in my choice of subjects. I had said it directly and, I thought, lovingly but with urgency, yet I could see the curtain dropping between me and the students almost immediately. Once my optometrist had warned me, “If blackness drops like a curtain in your eyesight, call me immediately.” In this case, I needed to call on the Lord.

I was also weary from a long time speaking day and night, and traveling to strange places. This lifestyle fit me, but it was hard on the body and mind at times. This was just such a night of weariness and loneliness and something of a sense of loss for the reception I had with the students when I tried so hard to get the message through to them.

I missed my family. This was during a time when trips to Europe were more common and I was often having to say goodbye for weeks at a time due to expense. I was consoled by my wife’s commitment to the ministry we were called to. Once, perhaps at the end of this very trip, I returned and fell exhausted in the chair at the kitchen table. I said, “I wonder how long I can do this.” After saying that, my very young son said, “You have to go, for three reasons.” (I wonder where he got that 3 points idea for his argument!). He said, “First, God told you to do that. Second, the people need to hear what you are telling them.” All good so far, and convicting. The third point veered a bit. He said, “Third, you bring home gifts.” (In fact, I made an early decision not to do that, but only to bring the peanuts or pretzels from the plane . . . so that they would not be looking behind my back when I came home. But, he’s right. Sometimes people gave me gifts for my children.) So I kept going, even though I deeply missed my family.

On that night in Germany, God took me to his word. I found my solace from Psalm 46 sitting at the student desk in that small room. The words reached me and I meditated on them. Soon I opened my notebook and began to write. The poem included above is how I personalized a psalm to deal with my minor but real troubles. He is always present, always helping, always Lord Almighty. He is these things for you as well.

”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. . . God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us . . . Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us . . .“

CCW This month — a quick request for prayer
Steve Burchett flies to India in a few days. Please pray for a successful teaching experience at Providence Evangelical Bible Seminary (outside of Mumbai). And I lead a Bible Intensive in East Missouri — Farmersville — for the Mineral Association of Baptists. I’ll be working with pastors and leaders, January 26-28. Pray for the right men to come and for a deep and informative inductive study experience. Plans are being made for me to speak in a church on Sunday before returning. Add to your prayers our desire to publish in various forms in the days immediately ahead. We are so thankful for your prayers.