After Elisabeth Elliot died last week, I was sad to learn how few people even know her name. I heard her story early on in my spiritual life, and it wrecked me. I wanted her kind of strength. I wanted her commitment to something bigger than herself. I wanted an Elisabeth kind of faith.
a faith that can walk away
She almost didn't marry Jim Elliot. They both had a strong sense of calling to translate the Bible for people who did not have one in their language, and Jim didn't want to be married if it meant distracting him from that greater calling. He loved Betty deeply and professed it to her. But he wanted the Lord's blessing. And timing.
They were about to leave college, going separate ways, still not knowing clearly if God wanted them to marry. Elisabeth writes in her book Passion and Purity:
It would be five years before they got their heavenly okay. They married in Ecuador, where they planned to do their pioneer work of presenting Jesus to the indigenous Huaorani people.
But Jim, and the four American men with him, died at the hands of the Huaorani, (You can read Life's stunning photo essay from 1956. The article refers to the people by the derogatory name their neighbors called them, "Auca," which means "savages.")
a faith that can go back
Elisabeth was the only wife who returned. She and Rachel Saint, the sister of another man who died on that beach, decided the story would not end there. They went back. They befriended a local woman, and from that relationship grew an entire group of Jesus followers,
Rachel's niece and nephew were later baptized by one of the men who killed their dad, baptized off the shore of that same beach.
a faith with a clear identity
Elisabeth went on to write on topics that were truly hers. She wrote about loneliness. And femininity. And obedience. Wow, could she preach obedience because she lived it.
My favorite Elisabeth quote is from one of those talks. She was talking about people who say they're struggling with a decision . Elisabeth said, "Struggling is delayed obedience."
You can hear her speak on this site where her messages are rotated weekly. Sadly, you can't browse the entire collection. But this week, I just needed to hear her sweet voice say, "You are loved with an everlasting love. That's what the Bible says. And underneath are the Everlasting Arms. This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot..."