The news of Elisabeth Eliot’s passing came as a shock to me. Being on hiatus from social media for three weeks now, I was remiss on news feed that normally flood my Facebook account. My good friend and soul sister Meryll, who knew me the most and who also noticed I was gone on Facebook, was the one who sent me a text. “I remembered you. Thought you should, your favorite author Elisabeth Elliot has died.”
I have never felt this much grief for somebody who I don’t even know personally as I have for Elisabeth Eliot. Sure, the death of celebrities shocked and affected us, but this was different. To me, this was personal. I cannot begin to tell all of you how sad I am of her passing because Elisabeth Elliot was one of my Christian models and heroes growing up. She, Catherine Marshall and Amy Carmichael. From the first time I read her all-time classic, Passion and Purity, I was hooked on her and her life story. Passion and Purity changed forever the way I think about relationships. Every time I am at a loss as to how to approach something relating to love, next to the Bible I turn to her books and marvel at the God-given wisdom she has. Her theology was practical, her convictions were strong. Above all? Her love for her God was evident –something that in my life I would love to emulate. She loved Christ with a love that only had the extremes –give all or nothing, be present or not at all. She was open, honest, vulnerable before the reading public, something that makes her very relatable and appealing even to non-Christians. Yet at the same time, she did not restrain in pointing out what was wrong or misguided or plain evil.
What I also loved about her was that she was a writer at heart. She poured her heart and soul in whatever it is she was writing. And she let God use her and this gift, and oh how powerfully and mightily she was used. One of my favorite books written by her, Through Gates of Splendor –the story of how five missionaries (including her husband Jim) went to Ecuador to reach out to the Aucas and were killed, revolutionized the way I looked at missions. It was life or death to them. I often wondered, alone in my thoughts, if at any point in my life I would be as brave and even as obedient to Christ’s cause as they all were. Could I give everything up for God? Could I minister to the men that killed my husband? Could I be strong like her when she was widowed early?
Elisabeth Eliot had that rare gift of being able to simplify the hard questions for us. And she always pointed to her God.
I am amazed at this woman, this iconic yet simple, vulnerable yet brave woman of God and I know that heaven is greatly rejoicing at welcoming home a servant of Christ. She has passed through the gates of splendor, and what a reunion in heaven it is!
Thank you, Elisabeth. You do not know me. I am one of thousands of people who gobbled your books, devoured your words and teachings, marveled at your wisdom, and tried to emulate you, little by little. Thank you for giving us your books, for opening your private journals to us, for being an exemplary testimony to Christ, and for being a role model.
In celebration of her life, I write an excerpt from Through Gates of splendour, words written by Jim Elliot in his diary,
“I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God —what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes –ah then, not stars, nor children shall matter, only Himself.”