Five lessons from Elisabeth Elliott

We’re re-posting some of our favorite blog posts from 2015. This encouraging and challenging post by Susie, from November 5, 2015, spread like wildfire on Facebook. 

Few women have had an impact on the kingdom of God as has Elisabeth Elliot. Her remarkable insights and words of wisdom continue to shape us, even after her death and years of illness. Here are just five truths I have gleaned from her devotional book “A Lamp for My Feet.” Published in 1985, it remains on my list of books I regularly re-read.

“Thy List Be Done” – His List, Not Mine

Women always have multiple lists going – shopping needs, errands to be run, answering emails or correspondence, calls to be made, prayer lists, etc. Inevitably, we will have interruptions and won’t accomplish what we hoped. The lists get longer instead of shorter! Elisabeth experienced that frustration on more than one occasion and wrote, “Because God is my sovereign Lord, I was not worried. He manages perfectly day and night, year in and year out, the movements of the starts, the wheeling of the planets, the staggering coordination of events that goes on on the molecular level in order to hold things together. There’s no doubt that He can manage the timing of days and weeks. So I can pray in confidence, ‘Thy list, not mine, be done.'”

“Wastelands”- Don’t Look for Shortcuts

At some time we all experience “dry, fruitless, lonely places.”  Using Exodus 13:17, Elisabeth points out that these times are not wasted for the Christian. “God did not guide them by the road towards the Philistines, although that was the shortest….God intentionally took them by way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. If they had gone their own way, they would have missed the deliverance from Egypt’s chariots when the sea was rolled back. Let’s not ask for shortcuts. Let’s keep alert for the wonders our Guide will show us in the wilderness.”

“Volunteer Slaves” – Serving with Joy

Our service to Christ is in the sense of a volunteer slave, or a servant who loves her master with all her heart. It is not “forced labor,” but the “purest joy when it is most unobserved, most unself-conscious, most simple, most freely offered.” Don’t minimize the service in small acts – cooking a meal, consoling a discouraged friend, forgiving a failure. “Let me not imagine that my love for You is very great if I am unwilling to do for human being something very small.” Ouch.

“Apportioned Limitation” – Accepting Your Field of Service

God sets limitations on “the scope of our work”, in that He has appointed us to a certain “sphere”. “We will keep to the limits God has apportioned us” (2 Cor. 10:13). Jesus did that – becoming a baby, a growing child, an adolescent, a man, each stage “bounded by its peculiar strictures, yet each offering adequate scope in which to glorify His Father.” God is glorified when we work in the place He has set us. “Let me not covet another’s place or work or glory”

“First Be Quiet” – Learning Silence

“Our hectic lives involve many changes, and changes require decisions, and decisions must often be made in the midst of a multitude of confusions.” Instead of constantly asking others’ advice, Elisabeth suggests practicing quietness. She points out how Jesus deliberately sought solitude during the non-stop days of His ministry. “The more hectic our lives become, the more necessary is this quietness.” When it is not possible to get away to a place of solitude to pray for a day, then “do not speak about the decision to anyone but God for forty eight hours at least. Just hold it before Him alone. Keep your mouth shut for two days. Pray. Listen. Seek his counsel.” Or this, “Sit before Him for fifteen consecutive minutes in silence, focusing … on Psalm 86:11, ‘Guide Me, O Lord…”

What have you learned from Elisabeth?

Published January 4, 2016