A wise woman died June 15, 2015. She changed my life, beginning in the 1960s when my Girls Auxiliary “adopted” a missionary serving in South America whose beloved husband, Jim, had literally given his life for the gospel. Elisabeth Elliot’s faithful sacrifice wasn’t headline news, but her life poured out for Christ did much to advance the gospel.
In the 1970s-80s—an era when television commercials touted women who could “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man”—Mrs. Elliot (via radio and the books Love has a Price Tag and Discipline, the Glad Surrender) challenged me to challenge the status quo.
In 1996, when my best beloved was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, I posted words from Through Gates of Splendor where I would see them throughout the day:
Accept, positively and actively what is given.
Let thanksgiving be the habit of your life.
Such acceptance is not possible without a deep and abiding belief
In the sovereign love of God.
Either He is in charge, or He is not.
Either He loves us, or He does not.
If He is in charge and He loves us,
Then whatever is given is subject to His control
And is meant ultimately for our good.
In 2001 when my husband died, These Strange Ashes and The Path of Loneliness helped me obey the encouragement in Keep a Quiet Heart. I clung to her simple advice, “Just do the next thing.” I could manage that.
Today, gems by Mrs. Elliot are important parts of programs I give at women’s conferences.
A mother’s part in sustaining the life of her children and making it pleasant and comfortable is no triviality. It calls for self-sacrifice and humility … It is a spiritual principle as far removed from what the world tell us as heaven is removed from hell: If you are willing to lose your life, you’ll find it.” Love Has a Price Tag
“Frustration is not the will of God … There is time to do anything and everything that God wants us to do. Obedience fits smoothly into His given framework.” Discipline, the Glad Surrender
A mother and father who love their children cannot allow them to go their own way. They desire for them freedom and joy, things that no fallen human begin can find without instruction, example, and correction. Discipline, the Glad Surrender
There is a sense in which everything is a gift … even my widowhood … in our sorrow, He gives us Himself, in our loneliness, He comes to meet us … In His death Jesus Christ gave us life … Thus the worst thing that ever happened became the best thing that ever happened … God in His sovereign will had given me a new place. I could accept that place, with all its new responsibilities and bafflements, assured that “The Lord himself goes at your head; he will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not be discouraged or afraid.” (James 1:17, Phillips) The Path of Loneliness
In human terms, Elisabeth Elliot died on June 15. In truth, she is more alive than ever. And her legacy continues in the lives of women like me. I can still hear her voice reciting Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…”
Have you read anything by Elisabeth Elliot? What mentors have helped you in your Christian walk?
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