“You are loved with an everlasting love. And underneath are the everlasting arms.”
– Elisabeth Elliot (pulled off her website header)
I arbitrarily decided to cover Elisabeth Elliot today, but I almost didn’t. Somehow, until today, I have missed knowing who she is except that she has written many books and that she and her husband were missionaries. So today I looked her up and was honestly suddenly quite resistant to writing about her. Her life scares me. A lot.
In summary: Her life in the beginning was terrifying.
And then she wrote a lot of books.
Her books are where I wanted to find her niche. Then I realized I couldn’t make her story comfortable that way. The piece of her story that made me the most uncomfortable was probably where I needed to start.
She and her husband, Jim were missionaries in Ecuador. Jim had a passion to reach a specific tribe from which no one had been able to come out of an encounter alive. But he went anyway. And found them. And was killed.
Soon after his death, Elisabeth was able to make contact with the people group and lived with them for two years with her very young daughter.
She lived with the very same group of people who killed her husband.
This, I cannot fathom.
But that, I would venture to say, is her niche.
This is where God decided he would show His glory through this woman to this tribe…and, in turn, to us.
When I read about things like this I want to distance myself. Because I don’t want it to happen to me. Fear for my people is my un-forte. My nemesis maybe. I want to stay safe and I want to keep my people safe. I guess it’s natural.
But this woman risked everything and lost a lot.
I want to put her on a pedestal and say it was because she was a missionary. She’s some sort of super-christian. She must have expected it going in.
And maybe she was. And maybe she did.
But I know the pedestal is all in my head. I want to say she’s somehow different from me to excuse myself from such things.
But that the same obedience asked of Elisabeth with Jim and Abraham with Isaac is the same obedience expected of me. And that scares me. Because what will I be asked to risk?
But at the same time it encourages me. Because what I am doing right now and what I will do was orchestrated by the same God. Our ministry is not decided by our job description or how many risks we’ve taken.
Elisabeth Elliot and I are not on different levels of Christianity.
We follow the same God.
We are covered by the same blood.
Our troubles may not be comparable.
Our lifestyles may not either.
Our God, however, is the same.
And somehow He decided that I would sit here writing these words and you would be reading them and who knows what would happen next.
But we are all so necessary. And so relevant. And so pleasing to God that He has placed each of us exactly where we are right now.
For His Glory.
I hope that we keep living just as we are.
Just a little more assured of how empowered we are to live the life He wants us to live.
That doesn’t mean Ecuador for everyone.
But it does mean He will see us through anything. And everything.
Maybe we wouldn’t choose to do something if we knew what was going to happen in the end.
But He knows the end.
How is that terrifying and reassuring at the same time?