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Wrecked by the life and death of Elisabeth Elliot

Wrecked by the life and death of Elisabeth Elliot

My husband came home to me staring at the computer screen. He knew something was up right away. 

Elisabeth Elliot died today, I explained.

An hour later he sent me this article written by John Piper. If you are interested in what I have to say, please go read what he had to say about her and then come back, or be sure to read it when you are finished here. 

I spent the next 20 minutes bawling on the bathroom floor like I had just lost my best friend. My sweet husband consoled me the best he could, probably thinking I am going mad. After all, it's not like I spouted her as my favorite author/speaker. I didn't even talk about her much, maybe a handful of times in our 9 year marriage. 

So why did the death of this woman wreck me? 

I'll try to explain it to you as I sort through the feelings myself. 

I was in a particularly impressionable time in my life, probably age 14, maybe as old as 16. I was pretty boy crazy and silly. I didn't take much seriously. As most kids raised in suburban America with zero hardships, I didn't have to.

I recall one day sitting on the bus next to my best friend, asking each other random questions to pass the time. "What is your deepest, darkest fear?" she asked. I closed my eyes and thought seriously for a moment about what would completely destroy me. 

"My biggest fear," I began, "would be to get everything I ever wanted. I great husband and a lot of kids, a super happy family, and then to lose it all like in a fire or something. And then be left alone."

As the months went by I started getting into a little bit of trouble with my friends and lying and toilet papering houses and sneaking out of sleepovers... it was escalating pretty quickly and the people in my life who cared about me most took notice. 

Someone, I don't remember who, gave me a copy of Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. It was a popular book among the older girls in my youth group at the time. They all were pretty much in love with Elisabeth Elliot, so it was trendy enough in my Christian sub-culture for me to pay attention. 

I opened the book and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Then I started over and read it again. This time more slowly, deliberately taking time to let her straightforward words about her dating relationship with her husband Jim sink in.  

I had never heard an older Christian woman admit that the "young love" struggle is REAL. She was honest about, well, passion. But she offered no excuse for silliness and distraction from the only thing our passions are worthy of, our Lord Jesus. 

Her words in that book ripped straight through my flesh and settled deeply in my heart. And not just for me, the book was catching fire among some other girls I knew and they tutored me in the truths presented there and set me on a straighter course. 


The is a flame burning in my heart for world missions. It was lit by my God who saved me and who is the hope of the nations. This flame, burning on a low heat, was ignited by The Elisabeth and Jim Elliot story. Hers was the life that first exposed me to what true missions work is. Or rather what I often forget to this day, what it is not. Glamorous, easy, a vacation, sure of success. The way the Elliots viewed their call to missions was a chance to die. 

And he did. 

Jim Elliot was speared to death by the unreached people group he worked hard to reach. 

If I were Elisabeth, with a 10 month old baby in the middle of the Ecuadorian jungle with savages who just killed my husband, I would leave. 

But Elisabeth listened to the call to stay. She belonged wholly to her Savior. This champion of purity, a woman who loved her husband so passionately, who experienced a union so sweet, and entered into the mission field with the man God had joined her together with was now left alone. In the blink of an eye at the edge of a spear.

But here is what is so amazing about Elisabeth. She knew what she knew and she did not waver, even in the most tragic circumstances. What she knew is that those people, the savages, had never heard the name of Jesus. And more than she needed a husband, they needed a savior. She was not being a hero, she did not flaunt her strength and sacrifice. She merely loved the people who God created, the people among whom he would be named. She loved them and they met her savior. 

It's probably one of the most remarkable stories a young woman can hear if she will listen. Elisabeth's testimony changed my life.


So why am I wrecked? Why am I having trouble rejoicing with my fellow believers at her homecoming? I am rejoicing for her, but I am mourning for myself, for who I am and for who I want to be. 

At the news of her death all at once a sea of emotions flooded in because now that she has been removed, who will take her place. I know that many women now stand on the road that she fearlessly cleared for us. Many women teach truth body to other women. And for that I am thankful. But I just haven't ever come across anyone quite like Elisabeth. 

Bold, honest, no excuses, but kind, and humble, and so wise. Who will stand in the gap?  I feel at such a disadvantage in our culture. Can a woman rise up from 21st century America of the caliber of Hannah More, Amy Carmichael, or Elisabeth Elliot?


With all of our distractions, is there even one whose first love is Christ and whose first aim is his exultation? Is there any wife who would lay down her fear, her grief, her marriage, for the cross?

Is there any mom who would brave the little years, single, in the jungle among savages for the cause of Christ so that he could have the prize for which he died, the inheritance of the Auca people? 

Honestly I feel too much my own weakness and pull to popular culture to be sure that the answer could be yes. But even so, I believe in a God who works in hearts and lives for his glory and our good, and if he wants to raise up another champion he will, or perhaps he will use the collective voices of those touched by the testimonies of these champions to deliver the message together.

Her death today awakened in me the desire that was born half my lifetime ago, to be a woman pure in heart and passionate for the Lord Jesus. I will rise up and fill the gap right here, right now where I am. Prayerfully, I will resemble the strong, humble, woman versed in truth and confident in Christ, will you stand with me? 



something about that name

As I turn out the lights, sing the final song of the day, and tuck the covers under the chin of my five year old son Mason, one last thought passes through my lips to his ear.

Did you know, Mason that Jesus loves you very much?

Yes, is his sleepy reply.

That's so wonderful sweetie. Do you also know that there is another 5 year old little boy in the world somewhere, probably named Mason too, who has never ever heard the name of Jesus? 

His eyes open and he turns over on his pillow to look at me.

Never? he asks, surprised and a little more awake now. 

No sweetie, never. How do you think Mason will ever know about Jesus? 

I don't know mom, at church? 

Well, sadly there aren't any churches where Mason lives, at least not any that teach about Jesus. 

Will his mom and dad tell him? 

You know buddy, his mom and dad have probably never heard the name of Jesus either, so they wouldn't be able to teach him even if they wanted to. Hey, I know that your sleepy, but let's sit up for a sec and pray for this little boy. Let's pray that God would send someone to him who already knows that Jesus loves him.

Like me mom?

Yes babe, just like you. 

Part of regular discussion around our house is "the world". Not so much world influences as opposed to biblical influences. But the world in terms of country and cultures different from our own. Little kids have limited experiences and a self-centered worldview. It's just they way they are. So, if we want to get them thinking about world issues, such as poverty, oppression, and unreached people groups, we have to open the dialogue. 

We have several globes in our home, a couple I haven't painted over. A big atlas sits on a low table for the kids to thumb through. Daddy has been to India recently, and he shares all of his great adventures with us, and every once in a while mommy brings out an old green photo album from that time she went to Vietnam. 

But why? Why do we feel the need to make our children aware of people who need Jesus? 

We teach our kids a lot about obedience. Obey mommy, obey daddy, did you obey, why are you not obeying... all common phrases in our house. We expect and require obedience because we now that training our children to have obedient hearts is what is best for them. We are not perfect parents, and a lot of times I ask them to do things because it is what is best for me, not them. But under the overarching sovereignty of God, they are still required to obey in those times. It is training for a time when they will hear a command from their heavenly Father and be expected to obey. 

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:16-20

 

Did you heard the command? The command to Go. Make disciples. Baptize in the Name. Teach everything commanded. 

How many of us have heard this command and brushed it off like it isn't for us? What right do we have to ignore or excuse a direct command from the One who has all authority in heaven and earth?? 

I am not writing these words to lay a guilt trip on anyone or to encourage every believer to begrudging hand in a couple thousand dollars to check of a box of obedience to the great commission. What I am concerned about is the condition of our hearts, my heart, when we ignore a command from Christ and it has zero affect on us. 

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
— Phil 2:9-11

There is a lot of discussion to be had here. Discussion about not going in our own power, waiting for the call, being strategically reckless not just reckless. These discussion have been opened with my people. With my husband, in our church gatherings, in social circles around dinner, and with my sleepy eyed children before bed. 

Be challenged to open a discussion in your homes and in your churches about the need in the world for the great name of Jesus to be spread to the ends of the earth, to places it has not yet been named.

 

He is worthy.

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
— Revelation 5:9-12

 

 

Resources:

For more information on unreached people groups, check out The Joshua Project

For information on training for your church to understand the call to go to the unreached visit sixteen:fifteen for some excellent resources and free webinars.

 

 

The first exercise 

daddy brought the color

Many of you know that the Dude went to India for 10 days last month. He had never been out of North America, so this was extremely new and exiting for him. 

It turns out that he missed one of the nations most popular holidays by one day, but he brought some of it home for us to experience it.


Holi, is a festival, also known as the festival of colors or the festival of love.  It is a free-for-all carnival of colors, where participants play, chase and color each other with dry powder and colored water, with some carrying water guns and colored water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game.

I was super sad that the Dude missed it. I'm sure the locals would have loved to have the 6 foot 1 American as a target. But it wasn't written, as they say.

The Dude came home with a suitcase packed with goodies for the family, but the favorite had to be the two boxes of color. Conveniently, each box had four bags of color. We turned t shirts inside out and let the kids go at it. 

It was so much fun, I think we may need to kick off spring every year with a Holi color festival of our own.


 

 

 

Imperishable

"Then I wish I was never alive." My 5 year old's response to the fact that getting shots is a part of life. "So you think it would be better to have never been alive at all than to experience a very short amount of pain?" I asked somewhat shocked. "Yes." His answer definitive, unwavering. I tried to explain to my little boy a deep and complex truth. I'm not sure it went very well as he moved on to asking for ice cream at the first sign that mom was done talking. But it served a purpose in speaking to my own heart because, while I may be a little less dramatic or vocal about it, I do try to avoid pain at all costs. The pain of disappointing someone I love.

The pain of being rejected.

The pain of being losing something I hold dear.

"Sure, shots hurt buddy. But only for a little bit. And they aren't even something bad that is happening to you. In fact, they are something good  because they are protecting you from something potentially much worse." Was my reply, which I'm sure sounded more like the mom from Charlie Brown the second the word 'potentially' exited my lips.

We moved on and the conversation was filed away in the distant, foggy memory part of my day until I was about to go to bed and I went in to kiss him goodnight. I began to think, if he truly believes that he would be better off never alive than face hardship, what does that say about his belief system? I think it means that feeling pain is absolutely the worst thing he can imagine. He wants to be pain free all the time. He is a little feel-good seeker. And as his mother, I want this for him. Naturally I don't relish in the thought of him experiencing the unpleasant things in life, whether physical or emotional. But I only know of one place where that is possible. There is only one place pain free and only one way to get there. The believer in Christ is promised this place, but to get there they must experience pain on some level. Now I know some people die in their sleep and some people die suddenly, and then there were those just taken up in a whirlwind, but to a certain degree I would argue that every death experience has an amount of pain associated with it.

I believe God to be sovereign over all. ALL. Perhaps he uses the pain to point us to him, to help us to be thankful for the times we are not in pain, to minister to those suffering alongside us. But tonight I was struck by another thought. Would I get very excited about a place where there is no pain if I never experienced pain myself? Would I cherish the man who will wipe every tear from my eyes is I had never cried about anything? No, of course not. It would be like telling a child who has never tasted a pea that they are moving to a town where they will never have to eat peas again. "Big deal, I don't have to eat them now," they would think, "and by the way, what's a pea?"

 

Imperishable seed bright

Imperishable seed

This week I completed the first custom order for my shop. A print of 1 Peter 1:23. In Christ I am not an imperishable seed. What makes this verse mean something to me? The fact that I feel and experience my perishable-ness every day.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

I feel my perishable-ness and I don't like it. I am a big feel-good seeker. I envy success, my motives are often out of whack and reveal a heart that wanders quickly. But I am told that I am an imperishable seed. And by the word of God through his son I know that one day I will not envy or seek my own good, and I will always have perfect motives! This perishable feeling is temporary! I can be joyful because I know the pain, and I know it will someday be over. What I glorious day that will be! I to think, I could have missed it all if I had never been alive.