Letter to a Friend
Following is a letter written by Elliot to a friend he knew thirteen years ago while in grade school in Kentucky before he moved to North Carolina. In a strange and somewhat amusing turn of events, Elliot was reconnected with this friend by email through an unlikely mutual acquaintance.
You were kind to write back and share about your lifeit was so heartening to hear the sketch of your testimony. Im so glad to hear that you are working for Campus Crusade for Christ now. That ministry has meant a lot to me, and I continue to support it financially.
I must tell you that when Rebekah told me about meeting you at the Campus Crusade conference and learning that you had known me years ago, I replied only half-joking that I was sure you had nothing good to say about me. At the time we knew each other I was becoming increasingly rebellious, getting into trouble, and hanging out with some shady older friends. My life since that time has been a story of Gods discipline and His grace (this is true of everyone isnt itonly some dont choose to see it that it way).
About three years after we last knew each other, some Christian friends of my family intervened in my life and encouraged my mother to enforce appropriate discipline in my life. I cleaned up my act somewhat before entering high-school, and I became serious about my studies. After moving to Boone and finishing high school, I went to Duke University for two years.
When I returned to Duke for my junior year, I finally admitted to myself how miserable I was there. I had gone to Duke for the wrong reasons. From the age of ten, I had become ashamed of my place in life. Tragically, I had become a climber; a status seeker. I had decided to go to Duke believing that it would give me the status I sought. Instead of seeing Christ as my sufficiency, I was looking for an outer somethingeducational superiority in my caseto make me better. But I didnt just want to be better personally, I wanted to be better than everybody else. I was so mean and arrogant. I had some of the trappings of a Christian life: involvement in a Bible study, some witnessing in my dorm, etc. But my heart wasnt right. And that is why I was miserable; I had chosen a lonely, godless life.
At that time, an older friend of mine who has been a great mentor in my life asked me if I really wanted to be there at school. It was a simple question, but a radical one to me. I had never considered not being in school, and so much of my self-worth was wrapped up in my education that it was an incredibly difficult proposition to consider. After a long night of prayer, it was clear to me that Gods plan was for me to leave, and so I packed my bags the next day. At that time I had a long way to go spiritually, but it was an important step of faith for me to destroy the idol I had made of my education at a fine schoolwhen I left, I didnt know whether God would ever have me return to school.
I spent the following year working. It was a difficult year as God exposed my pride and self-centeredness, but His grace was overwhelming as I came through to see the truth that Christ is the only sufficiency. By the end of that year, God gave me the opportunity to return to school, to the University of North Carolinathe school I wanted to attend even as a 5th grader in Kentucky. I will always remember my year at Carolina as one of the most wonderful years of my life. I roomed with a friend who now happens to be Rebekahs brother-in-law. We had a fantastic Bible study in our dorm room and saw several young guys grow up tremendously in their faith. I instantly had many, many great friends through Campus Crusadefriends who took me in as if I had been there at Carolina for years. It was such a safe, comfortable, and spiritually rewarding environment and such a dramatic change from my years at Duke.
After a year at Carolina, I made a difficult decision to join a new company in Boone. Shortly after I began work, I sank right back into the old pride and arrogance, only this time the career track took the place of the educational track. Satan is truly the great deceiver and destroyer! My sin found me out in some horrible work-related decisions that further exposed hidden envy, covetousness, and wrath. The consequences were devastating as my sin destroyed relationships and even the job opportunity I so selfishly wanted. But just as Gods discipline is unrelenting, so is His grace and mercy. Many dear friends whom I had hurt were instrumental in leading me to get my life straight again, and as God promises, confession and repentance brought restoration.
I worked the rest of that year, and then with one year of school remaining, God gave me the opportunity to finish up in Boone at Appalachian State University. While in school, I was working about 30 hours per week and was involved in my church and church ministry. I taught a childrens Sunday School class, and I even helped coach a youth soccer team. I could say once again that school had its proper place in my life.
During my final semester, God displayed His grace yet again (in truth, its unceasing isnt it) as I was offered a job at the same company at which I had worked after leaving UNC! This past January, I made a lateral move of sorts within the parent company to my current position. The company is young, and we are doing some consulting, some product brokering, and some manufacturing in the food industry. Its very exciting work, and coming in at the ground floor, I have found it be an incredible business education. So thats what Im doing now. I am still very involved in my church and related ministry. I am still teaching an amazing little group of children in a Sunday School class (remember the one we were in together; all I remember is talking about Saturday Night Livedreadful). And I continue to coach youth soccer and baseball, though I am taking a break from baseball this spring.
I really dont keep up with anyone from Hopkinsville, but it sounds as if you wont be the only one from Hopkinsville when you move to Nashville this summer. I understand that quite a few folks moved there after school. I have written back and forth with Anne some through the years, and she is there in Nashville now. I know you and she were friends at one time, and I guess you were off at school together for a year or two. I have shared the gospel with her several times in let-ters and emails, and while she would we have you think she is agreeable, she deflects the heart of the truth by admitting that she does need to give her spiritual life more attention and attend church more often. I believe part of the problem is that she grew up in a church where, as far as I know, the gospel was not preached. The message there was apparently focused on feeling good about yourself and not judging other people. That stuff drives me crazy. Where is that in the Bible! Jesus didnt come to bring peace but a sword. The law revealed mans sinfulness, and Christ came to bring salvation from sin, not salvation from feeling bad about ourselves, right! Anyway, I have long hoped that someone in her life (and not just by letters and email) could share the truth of Christ with her. If youre gonna be in Nashville, keep your eyes open for that opportunity!
Im sorry that I will not be in Hopkinsville in for your wedding, but I do wish you and Ben the very best as you begin a new life together in Christ. I am very happy for you.