Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Death of My Hero

I fell in love with Jim when I was 18.

Elisabeth introduced me to him in her books.  When I would tell my friends that I planned to marry Jim Elliot, they would roll their eyes and remind me that he was not only 50 years older than me and already married, but he was, um, dead.  But I was not dissuaded.  The bar had been set.

I still put Shadow of the Almighty in the top 5 most influential books I've ever read.  My life changed as I read Jim's story--a young man who was my age and yet totally and completely sold out for God in a way I had never seen or experienced.

Elisabeth didn't put much of herself into her books about Jim, so I didn't start getting to know her until I ventured out into her other books.  If I was in love with Jim, then soon after, I wanted to be Elisabeth.

We are given the present within which to choose whom we will serve, knowing that this moment affects the next and we are accountable for it.  

Elisabeth was no-nonsense.  Blunt.  Witty.  Very smart.  Tough, but gloried in being a woman.  She showed me what it meant to obey Christ.  She wasn't into emotionalism or feeling sorry for herself.  Her mantra was Trust and Obey.  Period.  Yet she knew suffering:  She waited five years to marry the man she loved, and then three years later, lost him to Indian spears.  She was a widow and single mom for 10 more years, during which she went back to the remote Indian tribe that murdered her husband.  Her second husband died of cancer after four years of marriage.  I think she earned the right to talk about suffering.

Joy comes not in spite of, but because of, sorrow.

Her faith was unwavering.  Her joy was infectious.  She still is the most inspiring person I've ever known.  She is such a part of who I am that I have to remind myself I never met her in person.

When I met Gil in 1998, not only was he full of passion and vision for the world, but he was a huge Elisabeth Elliot fan too.  That was the clincher for me.  I had found my Jim Elliot.

Elisabeth died yesterday, June 15, 2015, a good and faithful servant.  May her death remind another generation of young people they need to be inspired by Elisabeth and her Jim.

It is nothing short of a transformed vision of reality that is able to see Christ as more real than the storm, love more real than hatred, meekness more real than pride, long-suffering more real than annoyance, holiness more real than sin.  

(All quotes by Elisabeth Elliot, of course.)

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