For those of you who don’t know, Elisabeth Elliot died this past Tuesday, June 15, 2015. We’ll be celebrating her life on Facebook and Twitter. There will be a new post every hour, starting at 2:30 pm CST and continuing through 10:30 pm.
The life of this one woman has impacted me for almost half of my life. When I was 12, I read her book “A Chance to Die” which is a biography of Amy Carmichael. That one book impacted my worldview possibly more than a dozen others have. It sparked the beginning of a still-held dream to go to India and see the beautiful rainforests high in the mountains. It made me aware of the horrors of child prostitution and slavery. It showed me what is possible if I learned to pray and trust in God for His Almighty provision and guidance every day. And it showed me how one woman could make an enormous impact in this world, if she but surrendered her life in the service of others and the Gospel.
Other books written by Elisabeth Elliot have found their ways to my shelves, and I don’t regret the purchase of a single one. She was such a woman of faith and courage. My life compared to hers is dim and full of fear in comparison. You see, as I thought about her life this week, I thought mostly on the time between when she met her first husband, Jim, and the time after his death in the jungles of Ecuador. This is the part of life most people are familiar with. She waited years to be married to the love of her life, only to have him taken from her a short time later, speared to death by the Auca Indians in a remote Ecuadorean jungle. All that she had left of him was memories, his journals, and their daughter. In her place, I likely would have gathered that little daughter to me, run home to the states, and nursed my sorrows and memories. Not Elisabeth. She stayed. And she found a way to go live among the very people who had killed her husband, forgiving the murderers. And she took their little daughter.
I am an oldest daughter, a big sister. I naturally feel the need to control, protect, and to “fix.” None of Elisabeth’s reactions would have come naturally to me. I am sure they did not come naturally to her. Yet that is how she chose to react, with trust in her God and forgiveness in her heart. Just as she had committed the keeping of her husband into God’s hands, she committed herself and her daughter too. Jim’s death didn’t result in her demanding to know why God had failed to protect her beloved, and fear that He could not protect her and her daughter, her last living connection to Jim.
You see why I am challenged and humbled by her faith, courage, and trust in Almighty God? In a country where we constantly strive to protect and to make the world a better, safer place for our children and loved ones; where we struggle to keep those dearest to us the closest to us – such a life is counter-cultural, maybe even seen as radical. But it is the life that God calls each and every one of His children to live. Not everyone will suffer the loss of loved ones. Not everyone will suffer much at all. Others will seem to suffer incessantly. However, as my former pastor once pointed out, God does not ever promise His children a life of prosperity and ease. What He does promise is that He “will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
As my husband and I are only a few months away from welcoming our first child into the world, these thoughts hang heavy in my mind. What we hope is to model such a life of faith for our children, by God’s grace. It is a greater legacy than anything the world could ever offer.
Thank you, Elisabeth Elliot, for the legacy you have left us.