“End of the Spear” is the story of how Jim Elliot followed the spiritual promptings within him –and set in motion an unexpected series of events. In short, he and some buddies believed they should give their lives to reach one of the most brutal groups the world had ever known. After he and his friends were speared to death, two of the widows—and their children—followed in their footsteps, including Jim’s wife Elizabeth.
What makes the story powerful is the spirituality of a man who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” It is a kind of spirituality that we should talk about more.
In our current culture, most spirituality is about “what works for me.” What makes me feel good? What makes me feel better? What helps me solve my problems? What gives me strength against my challenges? What is an entertaining way to engage in spirituality? What gives me a natural high? What did I get out of the book, show, movie, text, song, poem, etc.?
The musician Scott Wesley Brown, who was one of the millions who’ve had their lives transformed by the Elliots’ sacrifice, attempted to capture Jim’s sacrificial walk when he wrote:
I’ve lost track of all the Sundays
The offering plates gone by
And as I gave my hard earned dollars
I felt free to keep my life.
I talk about commitment
And the need to count the cost
But the words of a martyr show me
I don’t really know His cross.
Jim’s decision to go—and his wife’s decision to follow in his footsteps—was about a kind of spirituality that wasn’t saying “what’s in it for me?” It was about saying, “What, God, do you want me to do?” And, “please give me the strength and courage to do it.”
“End of the Spear” is worth watching, if only to direct our reflections about whether our spiritual journey is truly about discovering God, or if it’s more like a trip to the mall… looking for something that makes us feel good at a bargain price.