More From Elizabeth Erlandson

January 21, 2022 by Elizabeth Erlandson (Nebraska, USA)

The experience I wrote about in my devotional “To Love and to Laugh” occurred at a Christmas Eve service in 1972. I was 22 years old, and my family had moved to Saudi Arabia, where my dad worked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The woman who took me to church was my mother’s best friend, Audrey.

I joined my parents and worked at a hospital in Riyadh three years later. One of the men in my department was a committed Christian who kept a Bible on his desk. His name was Charlie, and he witnessed to me nearly every day for 18 months. I consistently rebuffed his invitation to accept Jesus as my Savior.

When I returned to the United States, I still felt lost and lonely. On February 16, 1977, I actually considered committing suicide by driving off a bridge in Washington State. Instead, I drove into a parking lot adjacent to an employment agency and went into the building.

A gentleman in the lobby struck up a conversation with me and invited me to attend a Bible study that evening with him and his wife. I felt so desperate that I went to the study, and that night I realized that Jesus Christ was the only answer for all my needs. From that moment on, my life changed course, and I became a new creature in Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

Eight months later, I enrolled in Bible college. Following that, I attended seminary, where I met my husband, Doug. We married 14 weeks after we met and will celebrate our 41st anniversary in February. We were in the pastorate for six years, and during that time we had two children.

But being pastor and wife was not a good fit for us, so we decided to seek other work.  I was shocked when an international radio ministry with headquarters in Nebraska, offered me a writing job in the public relations department. I should have been grateful and excited, but truthfully, I felt angry and resentful that I had to go out to work. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.

In retrospect, I see God’s guidance and grace in providing the opportunity for me to hone my writing skills through this ministry. As soon as the children went to school, my husband began teaching philosophy at the local community college. Everything worked out for good, just as God’s word promises, and I often wish I had trusted God more.

I developed a deep friendship with a woman named Ardith, who became my prayer partner during this time. In 2002, together with our husbands, we purchased a specialty candy business and created a “click and brick” shop (we sold online and in a physical location) where we offered the largest selection of licorice in the United States. The business was a great success, a lot of fun, and a lot of work. We sold it in 2019, eight months before the onset of the pandemic.

These are just a few highlights from my life since I prayed to be able “to love and to laugh.” God answered my prayer with lots of love and plenty of laughter. Of course, I’ve also had my fair share of challenges, heartache, and disappointment. Yet through it all, God has been faithful and continues to give grace.

Now that I am retired, I write most afternoons for two hours. I treasure that time alone with the Lord and can honestly say, “God made me a writer. And when I write, I feel God’s pleasure.”

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The Upper Room magazine's mission is to provide a practical way to listen to scripture, connect with believers around the world, and spend time with God each day.

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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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