The sage wisdom of Elisabeth Elliot, who died two years ago yesterday, is resonating with power and grace through the lives of thousands of women she touched in her lifetime, and still to today through countless resources. She spoke with clarity and passion about everyday moments lived through the filter of surrender to Christ. She was masterful at weaving into anecdotes the concepts of God's sovereignty, Christian contentment, courageous living in Christ, and joyful suffering through human affliction, making doctrine more accessible for many women who had grown up in the church but never considered theology an attractive pursuit.
If you are unfamiliar with Elisabeth Elliot, you can read more about her life at http://www.elisabethelliot.org/ . These tributes were posted in the days following her death on June 14, 2015:
"She Trusted and She Obeyed" (Revive Our Hearts)
"Peaches in Paradise: Why I Loved Elisabeth Elliot" (Desiring God)
"Elisabeth Elliot: 1926-2015" (The Gospel Coalition)
"Celebrating Elisabeth Elliot's Life: A Pioneer and a Prayer Warrior" (Today's Christian Woman)
Here are some of my favorite quotes of Elisabeth's:
“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”
“Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”
“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”
“The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds. He will not allow quietness.”
“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.”
“God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.”
"Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”
“The fact that I’m a woman doesn’t make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I’m a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”
“God’s work done in God’s way never lacks God’s supply.”
“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you.”
“…the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by his letting us have our way in the end, but by his making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what he taught his disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”
“One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.”
“If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to him and ask him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”
“Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”
“To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss.”
“If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.”
"Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your Savior, your guide? If He is, you don't need to search any further for security."
"The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived -- not always looked forward to as though the 'real' living were around the corner."
"God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to."
"Our vision is so limited, we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering."
"Faith is not an instinct. It certainly is not a feeling -- feelings don't help much when you're in the lions' den or hanging on a wooden Cross."
"Worry is the antithesis of trust. You simply cannot do both. They are mutually exclusive."
"We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive His poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others."
For many years her exhortations rang through my head as I sorted out singleness in my twenties, deliberated about domesticity in my thirties, and pondered parenthood in my forties. But the word I remember most that came from Elisabeth Elliot's mouth was when she told me, "No."
I confess I foolishly came to a point that I believed that, with all that I'd read that she had written, there wasn't anything left for me to learn about or from God through the words of Elisabeth Elliot. I was wrong. Recently I have been reminded of another important lesson about Christlike grace and humility that she modeled for me in a phone call that took place 22 years ago.
The purpose of the call was supposed to be a simple message about a writing assignment, but in true Elisabeth Elliot fashion, she turned it into an opportunity for encouragement and exhortation.
We were planning the 1995 Christmas issue of Tabletalk magazine and had decided on the topic of Mary, the mother of Jesus, for the theme--hoping to highlight her biblical personage over mystical speculation. One voice we wanted was that of a young Mary facing an unplanned pregnancy. The editorial staff assigned me the task of contacting Elisabeth to write this piece. Ha--a "task". Indeed. I was intimated, but it was not a task or a chore.
When I called EE, we discussed the parameters of the issue, who the other writers were to be, what RC was going to write, etc.. In the process, I talked to her about what I felt it was like to be an unmarried woman facing a pregnancy. She was a good listener and gently and with genuine interest in her voice asked me questions about God’s gracious work in my life. In the end, she said, "No, I'm not going to accept the offer to write this."
I was stunned. This was not the answer I was supposed to take back to the team, but she insisted. "God has taught you spiritual lessons that would be much more authentic for Tabletalk’s readers and have more impact for God’s glory than if I were to try to use all the best of my imagination. You’re going to write it, and you go tell RC I said so.” She promised that she would pray for me, and we hung up.
Elisabeth did not even hesitate, even though this would have been another opportunity for her to be acknowledged and receive compensation. She thought only of the power of the message and who best to share it--the very thing an older woman ought to be thinking of when encouraging and mentoring a younger woman to pursue the greater things of the Lord. She considered me not as someone lesser in need of her vast wisdom and guidance. No, she considered me more significant than she.
It's easy to get weary of pouring out into others' lives when our vision is marred by a distorted view of ourselves. But as Elisabeth stated in that last quote I provided above, "We receive His poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others."
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit," Paul says in Philippians, "but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 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." (Philippians 2:3-11)
Paul the apostle says this posture of esteeming others (which is the expression another translation uses) manifests from a mindfulness steeped in the gospel--Christ esteemed us, doing a service for us that was far below his own ranking that resulted in lifting us far above our natural status. If we act as though we merited this exaltation, we trivialize Christ's humiliation and cannot find the love of Christ in our hearts to lift others up in our relationships with them. Another Paul, Paul Tripp, illustrated how we can do this with every day relationships around us in a recent post at Shepherd Press:
Let me put this in context. Let’s say the president of the company you work for is an irritating individual. In addition, let’s say that one of the maintenance crew is also irritating. Is there a difference in the way you respond to these individuals? You might well be grumpy towards the maintenance worker, but would you also be grumpy towards the company president? The response is no, you wouldn’t be grumpy with company president. Why? “Well, isn’t obvious? He is the one who hires and fires. He may be irritating, but he is more significant.”
Now you understand the strength of Paul’s argument, “Consider others more significant than yourselves.” You wouldn’t fuss at the company president; but at the maintenance worker, why not?
That's the power of the gospel, sharing the mind of Christ, pursuing humility not for the sake of self (crazy, but you know it's true), but for the sake of treating others with more significance than self. That's the gospel Elisabeth modeled for me that day while I sat in my office in Lake Mary, Florida, in 1995. Regrettably it's taken me 22 years to begin practicing it in my life, but I suppose the week that we commemorate the life and death of a beautiful sister in Christ is a good time to start.
Laura Miller aka mrsdkmiller
Looking for a list of articles published around the web?
Looking for posts written in response to 5-Minute Friday prompts? Click here:
Her March Isn't Over
Across the River
When God Pries My Fingers Off My Children
Life's Defining Moments
To the Christian Wife Who Berated Her Husband in Front of My Daughter
Zeal and Grace in France
An Unconventional Love Story
Seeing What's in Front of Our Eyes
Remembering Why I Called You Hannah
Love Your Sister.
Because He Came Home
Go Valiantly! A Prayer for New Homeschooling Moms
© lauraenglandmiller, #thereyougothinkingagain, Laura E Miller
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