This is My Jungle
by Kristina Matz
Something you might not know about me is my absolute love of biographies. I specifically enjoy biographies about men and women of the faith who endured great hardships throughout their life for the sake of the Lord. Maybe it’s just me, but I am so encouraged when I read about God’s provisions of strength and grace in the midst of our greatest human weaknesses. One story that has been of particular interest to me for many years is the story of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Pete Flemming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully. These five young men gave their lives in an attempt to bring the gospel to a group of violent, murdering, and cannibalistic Ecuadorian Indians. After the death of these five young men, through the incredible tapestry of God’s sovereign plan, Nate’s sister, Rachel, went to live with these Indians, known as the Aucas. Reading the biographies of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and Rachel Saint has given me a great opportunity to hear the story of God’s love towards this remote Indian tribe from a multitude of angles. But this afternoon I finished the biography of Dyuma, the first Auca Christian. After escaping her people years before, she later returned to her tribe as a born again missionary, sharing the message of Jesus’ salvation with her very own people.
Live As You Are Called
Along with Rachel Saint, Betty Elliot (widow of Jim Elliot) and her four-year-old daughter, Valerie, also lived among the Auca Indians for some time. As I read through pieces of Dyuma’s story, sprinkled with the memories of these two American missionary women, I can find myself in awe of the sacrifices that were made by both of them. Especially Betty Elliot. She wasn’t alone. She brought her four-year-old daughter with her into the jungle! It’s easy to follow the temptation of my flesh as I linger on Betty’s jungle ministry and feel like I’m clearly not doing enough. I mean, I’m over here using indoor plumbing and a microwave! Where is my sacrifice for the Kingdom? But, Oh!, what sinful, selfish thinking. It hit me a few days ago as I was reading… “This is my jungle”.
It is clear as you read the many writings of Betty (Elisabeth) Elliot, along with the writings of her late husband, that she was clearly called by the Lord to the Ecuadorian jungle for a season of her life. Her ministry was among various Indian tribes there before she eventually returned to the states. But as confidently as I can say that about her ministry, I can, with equal confidence, say that God has not called me to the Ecuadorian jungle! I can also say with equal confidence that, no matter my postal address, God has called me to be a wife and a mother to five incredible children. This is my jungle.
And wherever my “jungle”, wherever your “jungle”, we are there for the glory of the Lord. Valerie didn’t take her four-year-old daughter into the Ecuadorian jungle so that people would marvel at her sacrifice, but so that an unreached people group would marvel at her God! That was her job and that is my job. For Betty, she mothered her sweet Valerie and lived out the duties of her Christian life in a thatched hut. My work is done within the walls of my home. I hear the sweet sounds of the mourning dove and watch the robins pull worms from my yard while Betty listened to the calls of the toucans and fell asleep to the noise of a multitude of monkeys in the treetops. Our “where” is different, but our “what” and our “why” is identical.
Work Like Betty Worked
When I think about Betty’s life in the jungle, I am often struck by the immense amount of work that was required of her. She worked hard. Harder than I have to work in order to eat, cook, or even be warmed on a cold night. But, while she worked harder than I have to work, that’s not an excuse for me to not work as hard as she worked! Every single one of us should go to bed tired at night. Hard work makes for tired people. But have you noticed that we view being tired as a drudgery? In our current culture, the ideas of refreshment and hard work seem to be at odds. Let’s be honest, we are tired moms. We are worn out by another sick baby, a toddler working through tantrums or a teenager that wanted to talk for an hour past our own bedtime. How can we feel so tired and yet still call ourselves refreshed?
“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” - 2 Timothy 2:4-6
A soldier. An athlete. A farmer. These are hard workers! This is a picture of the Christian life. Ours is a life that should be characterized by hard work. And not because we are earning any favor from the Lord through our work, but because we were created and then saved in order to do the good works that He has prepared for us! (Ephesians 2:10) Yet Scripture also teaches us that refreshment is available to us in the midst of this hard work.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Psalm 19:7-8
Our refreshment is not found in a spa day or a coffee date. Those things are lovely! I like massages. You? And let me tell you, Charlie makes a mean latte! But our soul is not refreshed by a great message or the perfect cup of coffee. Our soul is refreshed by the Word of God. You and I can work hard, as God has called us to, go to bed wonderfully tired, and then wake up and refresh ourselves in the Word each new day.
Consider Your Real Audience
Okay, so I’m confident of where I’m supposed to be and I’ve determined to work hard, so why do I still feel so unfulfilled? I bet if I were living in the jungle under a palm frond roof and eating monkey meat I would feel super fulfilled. These incredible women must have never been discouraged or wondered if their work was in vain or actually producing fruit. False!
Lack of fulfillment should be viewed as a wonderful warning alarm going off in our soul. It tells us that we have forgotten the “why” of everything that we’re doing. Or, more appropriately, the “Who”. Betty Elliot didn’t give up four solid walls and indoor plumbing because it made her feel good. (I imagine it actually felt quite “bad” on some days.) Here eyes were on Christ. It was that clear focus that kept her going even on her most discouraging days. And it is that same focus that must be ours if we are to “stay the course” with joy and, dare I say, enthusiasm!
“And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” - Titus 2:4-5
Love my husband. Love my children. Work at home. Not the ground-breaking, self-fulfilling “dream job” that the culture keeps telling me that I should desire. And not a job that many people are going to watch me do. In fact, it’s a job that almost nobody will watch me do. But there is One who is watching me do it. And He’s the same One that hired me in the first place! We need to be honest with ourselves whenever the temptation to be “seen” is getting in the way of our priority as wives and mothers. We need to be willing to say “no” to an act of service that our friends, pastor, etc. will see in order to say “yes” to loving our husband, loving our children, and working at home where almost no one is watching.
Every mother has a mission field. It’s our home. It’s the heart of our husband and the hearts of our children. It’s even in the care and order of our housework. May we be women that work for the well done of our Savior over the well done of others.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” - Matthew 25:21