I’ve been invited into the beautiful life of Lilias Trotter. Dear friends surprised me on my birthday with a lovely gift, A Blossom in the Desert, Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter. I had never heard of Lilias Trotter before, much to my surprise, especially since we lived in Oxford for two years. Her works are tucked away in the Ashmolean Museum, visible only by request.
As soon as I opened the book and began reading the Introduction, I was captured. John Ruskin, who Tim introduced me to while he was studying beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis, has become a prominent figure in our home. We discuss his art, words, and philosophy on a regular basis. Ruskin became the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, and was himself an amazing watercolourist. So when I read that Lilias’ artistic talent led to a friendship with Ruskin, my ears perked up. This was a woman I wanted to know more about.
Possessing a rare artistic talent only skimmed the surface of this woman. The beauty of her words and life captivated me. Lilias, a well-born daughter of a distinguished London family, forsook the path of fame in light of mission work to Algeria. She had every opportunity to become one of England’s most notorious artists, however, she forsook Ruskin’s offer and pursued a life of foreign missions.
There are few and far between today who pursue the obscure. Who choose to remain hidden in the face of fame. We have forgotten the narrow road, and instead choose paths that lead to status, prominence, and elitism.
Fascinated by the artistry and words of this woman, I then watched the documentary of Lilias’ life, Many Beautiful Things. Scored by the talented Sleeping At Last, tears and conviction flooded my spirit as I observed a life that was poured out for the greater thing. There was no doubt that she knew the path the Lord had her on. Forsaking fame, embracing humility, surrendering all.
A line in the documentary, penned by Lilias herself, reverberated in my mind long after the documentary ended:
“You can never tell to what untold glories a little humble path may lead if you follow far enough.”
Sometimes I don’t like the path laid out before me. It does not glisten enough. Instead, the more spectacular road entices. I fight and refuse to surrender, not wanting to walk such a simple path. And, yet, the Savior leads me on. Beckoning me to follow, to choose what appears as nothing:
“ But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being[a] might boast in the presence of God.” (I Cor. 1:27-29)
To bring to nothing things that are...things that are, are not always what they seem to be. Things that are not, are often what He chooses.
How many paths have I traveled, that I would not have chosen to walk if the choice was up to me? Perhaps they appeared too humble, too small, too trite compared to the road more traveled, more noticed.
How many times have I veered off the path, only to miss the untold glory just beyond the bend?
Untold glories await those whose feet choose the narrow path, the humble path, the path less traveled. If we will only follow far enough...remain faithful, steadfast in our resolve, and not give up. We have a Guide who walks with us every step of the way. He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.
Whatever little humble path He has us on, untold glories await...wait for it.