My moment with Elisabeth Elliot . . .

and why she became one of my heroes:

I stood in line clutching my Passion and Purity book. I’d spent the majority of my Saturday listening to Elisabeth Elliot speak about her life as a missionary and the spiritual truths God taught her along the way at my home church in Louisville, Ky., In 1956, Elisabeth lost her husband Jim, to a tragic death. He was killed in Ecuador by the Auca Indians (also known as the Waodani). These were the same Indians who Jim, Elisabeth and a group of other Americans had been ministering to.

As I waited for Elisabeth to sign my book, I thought about what she had said that day. Her message was titled, “Instruments of Peace,” and the idea came from a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Elisabeth emphasized surrendering to God, trusting Him and accepting what He gives and allows. Here is some of what she shared that day:

Acceptance is a great principle in my life that I learned most from Amy Carmichael, a missionary from Ireland. Amy was a missionary in India for 57 years. She’s written hundreds if not thousands of poems and has greatly influenced my life. One poem she wrote is titled “In Acceptance Lieth Peace.” In my experience, nowhere else is peace to be found. Whenever anything happens that to me seems unacceptable, I know I have to make a radical transition and say, “Lord, I don’t like this, I didn’t ask for it; I would’ve never asked for it. But you have given this.”

When Jim died, I was left alone at the jungle station, where he and I had been working together. We were a long way from any other contemporaries, white folks, Americans. Those words from Amy Carmichael fortified me and gave me strength, “In acceptance lieth peace.”

What does that mean? It  means an unequivocal, total, “Yes, Lord.” I didn’t understand it. I would’ve never asked for it. I’d been married 27 months to Jim. We had a 10-month-old baby. We had 50 newly baptized Indian believers, all of whom were in their teens and 20s. Who was to teach them? Why would God let this happen?  I’ve realized you’re not supposed to understand; you’re supposed to trust Him. Holiness doesn’t consist in understanding.*

I finally reached the front of the line, handed Elisabeth my book and proceeded to tell her I appreciated what she had shared. She finished writing, put her pen down, looked me in the eyes and said, “So what are you going to do about it?”

A question like that is why she’s one of my heroes!

She didn’t desire flattery, but being and living more like Jesus. She didn’t know my story, and at that time, I didn’t even know the story God would allow to unfold in my life. The words she shared then mean so much more now than they did as an 18-year-old.

Heavenly Daddy, help me become a woman who lives out Your Truth and not just talk about it, an instrument of peace, someone whose life looks more like Jesus every day. In Jesus’ Name! Amen!

On Monday, Elisabeth Elliot went to be with the Jesus she so dearly loved after suffering from dementia. Here is a link to Christianity Today’s coverage of her story:

*Portions taken from Instruments of Peace transcript, February 1998; recorded at Southeast Christian Church. 

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