We are now a third of the way through First Place.  What an exciting marker to reach – and as of week three, we had lost a grand total of 107 pounds.  That’s an entire person!  (I know it’s a really small person, but some high school students don’t even weigh that much.)

During last night’s class, we talked about Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

As we were discussing this verse, I was consumed with the thought that our ideas of prosperity, hope, and our future are not necessarily the same as God’s plans for our lives.

Specifically, the story of missionary and martyr Jim Elliot came to mind, and I realized that God’s promises in Jeremiah applied to his life just as much as they apply to mine.  Yet, God allowed this young man – one who had given up every earthly thing in order to tell others about the Savior – to die a violent and tragic death at the hands of those to whom he had been sent.

How is that prosperity?  How is that hope?  How is that the promise of a future?  Jim Elliot died at the age of 28 years old.  Had he lived, who knows what he might have accomplished.  Some would call his death a waste.

Yet, because of his death, hundreds have surrendered to God’s call to missions – many to Ecuador where Jim served and was killed. 

Because of his death, Jim’s wife and Nate Saint’s sister (Nate Saint was also martyred at the same event) were able to walk into the same Waodani village and demonstrate forgiveness and love to the men who killed their friends and family, sharing the forgiveness and mercy of the Savior.  One of the men who had a part in the murders is now actively sharing his faith with others around the world.

Prosperity, hope, and a future were found in an eternal reward for Jim Elliot.  How does this apply to us?  We may never leave the country to share the gospel, and God may not require our lives from us in this way.  Yet, he may not choose to bless us with material rewards.

Our prosperity, our hope, and our future are in the hands of God.  He will bless us as he sees fit – and it will be more than enough.

(To learn more about the lives and deaths of Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, I would recommend Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot and the movie End of the Spear.)