Elisabeth Elliott – I read the notice of her death today with a mix of sadness and nostalgia. That notice brought back memories – huddling with students reading Passion and Purity. Holed up in my bedroom reading Keep a Quiet Heart. Going with a group of friends to hear her speak at Elmbrook Church outside Milwaukee. Waiting for A Chance to Die to be in bookstores.
She ministered to me with her willingness to surrender all that she was and had to the Lord. With a voice of a prophet, she could cut through all your arguments and bring you to the bottom line- Jesus is worthy of your trust, every day, every way, no matter what you’re going through.
I have never met her, but she was a mentor. She was a popular but challenging speaker in the early to mid 80s when I was a young campus staff. Each time I heard her, I tucked away some nugget of truth, some treasure, to chew on and digest. I still have one cassette tape of the first message I heard her give at an Elmbrook Women’s Leadership weekend , titled “Learning to Know God.” I can’t bear to part with it (I still have a tape player in my car)!
- Passion and Purity: Bring your love life under Jesus Christ’s control
- Discipline- the Glad Surrender
- Keep a Quiet Heart
- The Path of Loneliness
- Shadow of the Almighty
- The Savage: my kinsmen
- A Chance to Die: the Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael
Each book brought its own clear message at a time when it was most needed. Her book on loneliness came to me at a point when I needed to learn to offer even that as a gift, a sacrifice, to the Lord.
But probably my favorite is a small book called, These Strange Ashes.
The story is about her first year as a missionary before she married Jim Elliott. It’s a story of hard work, under harder conditions, that produced the makings of a Bible translation. It’s the story of how her suitcase containing the work flew off the top of the bus she was traveling on. And these strange ashes, nothing was left of the work she had done for a year. Oh, painful though it was, it was clear. The One she served would choose how He wanted to use it.
She showed me that you have gifts while God gives them to you. And when He takes them away, you thank Him for giving it to you in the first place. Though she had been married three times, she spent a good deal of time as a single woman. She demonstrated that you can make no assumptions about how God will provide, how He will use you, or what the path ahead will bring–only that He will be faithful to you in that path.
She taught me that the Lord is the Lord. He can choose what He will use in your life. He can choose whether it’s a burnt offering or something that will grow. In either case, surrendering to His choice, out of His goodness, His love, His sovereignty, was the theme of her life.
At KC83, a student congress held in Kansas City in 1983, she said this,
Is what you are living for worth dying for? It better be, because you are dying for it one day at a time.
Thank you, Elisabeth, for a lifetime of a wholehearted yes to Jesus!
Thank you, Lord, for giving her to us for a time and using her to show us how to live.
Do you have a lesson from Elisabeth Elliott? What influence has she had on you?