This past weekend my family and I began preparing our new home, where we will move to in a few weeks. My parents came out to visit and deliver some of our gardening tools and other things we might need. I didn’t check my news feeds much with all of our activities, so it wasn’t until Monday morning that I learned one of my heroes had passed away.
Elisabeth Elliot Gren passed away at age 89 on Sunday, June 14. To me, though, it felt like I lost a grandmother, a teacher, a mentor, and a friend all at the same time. I was surprised to find myself crying with the news, and yet, not surprised.
Elisabeth Elliot, as many knew her, became famous in Christian circles and around the world when her husband Jim, and four friends were killed while trying to reach an indigenous people group in Ecuador in January of 1956. She would later retell the story in her book Through Gates of Splendor, written not long after the men were killed.
She became a well-known and respected writer and speaker on Christian living and missionary work. I own many of her books and in fact, it was one of her books, Quest for Love, a follow-up to Passion and Purity, that led me to say “yes” to my husband’s proposal.
It wasn’t just her writing that impacted my life, it was her humility and honesty that I admired. She didn’t pull any punches when she shared her heart and mind with her readers and listeners to her radio program Gateway to Joy. At the same time, she didn’t come across as a “know-it-all.” Her faith journey took her through experiences many of us will never understand and it didn’t make her bitter. It made her better.
Not long after I became a mom, I read one of her books called The Shaping of a Christian Family, about her family and the way her parents nurtured and trained up Elisabeth and her five siblings. I decided it was time to write her a letter to thank her for her impact in my life. I found an address for her and wrote and to my great surprise she wrote back– not a form letter, but on her personal stationery, to thank me for my kind words and to share a bit of encouragement to me as a young mom.
Elisabeth Elliot is one of my heroes – a word I don’t use lightly- because she stood strong while facing incredible challenges, she saw amazing miracles, lived life honestly and loved her God faithfully. It is an epithet I think she would be pleased to have describe her.
In the letter she wrote to me, she included a prayer that I have long since memorized and find precious now, even more so, with her passing.
Loving Lord and Heavenly Father, I offer up today all that I am, all that I have, all that I do, all that I suffer, to be Yours today and Yours forever. Give me grace, Lord, to do all that I know of Your holy will. Purify my heart, sanctify my thinking, correct my desires. Teach me in all of today’s work and trouble and joy to respond with honest praise, simple trust, and I stand obedience, that my life may be in truth a living sacrifice; by the Power of Your Holy Spirt and in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Master and my all. Amen.