As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Elisabeth Elliot


On Monday morning, Elisabeth Elliot slipped from her earthly body into eternity to meet the God who she loved and served. 

I will always consider Elisabeth my teacher. No, I never met her, never sat in one of her audiences, but she was my teacher nonetheless. Through her books*, through her radio show Gateway to Joy, and through her newsletter, she passed along invaluable truths and wise, straightforward advice. 

Who can forget her low, soothing voice opening each radio show with these words:
"You are loved with an everlasting love -- that's what the Bible says -- and underneath are the everlasting arms." 

Oh, how I appreciated her gentle, quiet instruction! Her demeanor was calm and reassuring. When she advised us to "Do the next thing," it was with quiet authority and I believed that I could do that thing, whatever it was. No fretting or spinning my wheels...just doing the next thing. 

Elisabeth encouraged us to live a life of submission...primarily, submission to God and to His plan for our lives, but also to our husbands as God has set the order. 

She understood and taught the value of femininity, contrary to popular opinion. (But Elisabeth was not swayed by popular opinion!)
"A Christian woman's true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate -- humble obedience --but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male, and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested."

She taught the Biblical principle of servanthood and how it looks in everyday life. Changing the baby's diaper. Preparing another meal. Cleaning the bathroom. Buying the groceries. And offering it all to the Lord as a sacrifice. The most mundane task is not demeaning, but holy when offered to the Lord. Servanthood is "a chance to die." 

And she taught acceptance, adopting Amy Carmichael's words, "In acceptance lieth peace" as her own guiding principle for living. We could accept these words from Elisabeth in the midst of our own hard things, because we saw her demonstrating them throughout her life. When she became a young widow after her husband Jim and his fellow missionaries were killed by the Auca tribesman, we saw her acceptance of God's plan, even returning to that same tribe to carry the Gospel of Jesus. We saw her acceptance of His will in the death of her second husband. Through her writings, we saw her acceptance of God's plan in big and small ways, in her encouragement to "keep a quiet heart" even when we don't understand what His purpose is.

She continued to demonstrate that truth to the end. She faced the final stage of her life as she had faced so many other things...with quiet acceptance and submission to her Heavenly Father who does all things well. In this article that appeared online early last year, Elisabeth's husband Lars Gren talked about her final years with dementia. I found this touching, and so encouraging.

Gren says Elliot has handled dementia just as she did the deaths of her husbands. "She accepted those things, [knowing] they were no surprise to God," Gren said. "It was something she would rather not have experienced, but she received it."
Hearing these words, Elliot looked up and nodded, her eyes clear and strong. Then she spoke for the first time during the two-hour interview, nodding vigorously: "Yes."

Although my teacher has stepped "through gates of splendor," her lessons live on. 




*Books by Elisabeth Elliot that I have read and recommend: 

  • Through Gates of Splendor The beautiful story of the life of Jim Elliot. This book was influential in my son's life as a young adult. 
  • Keep a Quiet Heart A compilation of essays, many taken from her newsletters. This is one of my favorites. I read it over and over, and have given many as gifts.
  • Passion and Purity The story of Elisabeth and Jim's courtship. This is required high school reading in my homeschool.
  • Let Me Be a Woman Letters to her daughter about what it means to be a Christian woman.
  • The Christian Family The story of Elisabeth's family of origin.
  • A Chance to Die  Elisabeth's biography of missionary Amy Carmichael.

10 comments:

  1. What a wonderful and inspirational woman Elisabeth Eliot was. To me as well as to you. And now she is with her Heavenly Father and I can just imagine the huge smile on her face.

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  2. What a lovely tribute to this wonderful woman of God. Can you just imagine having lived for her Father all of her life, the joy that she is experiencing today? I can only imagine...just like the song says. Great post, Cheryl.

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  3. A very honoring post. I agree with those who have said that this world was not worthy of her. She fought the good fight and she is safely home. Looking through photos of her this week, I found one that looked most like the woman I remembered striding out on a stage before an auditorium filled with people. She lived a big life and an ordinary one all rolled together and all for the glory of The Lord Jesus Christ.

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  4. I share your affection and respect for this gracious & wise woman, Cheryl. What a well thought out and well-written post! ♥

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  5. A lovely reflection on a lovely woman - she exuded quiet confidence in the message she gave. She knew who she was, because she understood whose she was, and because she lived by His Word. What a gift she was to us.

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  6. I have heard many call Betty Elliott their mentor or teacher even though, like you, they have never met her in person. The death of her husband and the other four men is a clear memory from my childhood, and ever since then she's been a hero of mine. A wonderful, God honoring, and encouraging post. Thanks.

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  7. Wow that sure is an amazing testimony. So touching and beautiful. Thank you Cheryl.

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  8. I have not read any of these books and am so thankful for your "book report" on this amazing author and Christian woman! I must read these, especially "Keep a Quiet Heart". They sound wonderful!

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  9. I've read a few of her books and was encouraged by them. We have good friends here in the Pacific Northwest who are related to the Elliot's and others who are related to the other martyrs that were killed by the Aucas...

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  10. Cheryl, I'm catching up on your blog tonight, working backwards. To be honest, I'm having a bit of anxiety and trying to chill out before I go to bed;) I love seeing your beautiful family (and your beautiful hair!). Then I read this post, and I too could hear Elisabeth Elliot's calm voice coming over the radio to me. I was a young mother of one, we were scraping by on multiple part-time jobs my husband had, struggling, trying to figure out what God was doing with us. Those fifteen minutes listening to her were so encouraging and helped put my focus back where it belonged. I love her books too, but not as much as I loved listening to her voice:) I have read most of her books, but not all. One that I thought was very helpful was "Loneliness." I've always wanted to read "These Strange Ashes" but haven't got ahold of a copy yet. Much love to you and yours tonight, Angela

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