Elisabeth Elliot’s memorial service at Wheaton College was held on Sunday, July 26, and live-streamed from Edman Chapel. Her son-in-law, Walt Shepherd, did a masterful job of leading the service, which featured several speakers, including her daughter Valerie and close friends like Joni Eareckson Tada.
Joni spoke about Elisabeth’s statement to her, “Remember, suffering is not for nothing.” Joni went on to say there is much more to suffering than learning the reasons why God allows it and what we can learn from it. Suffering must push us against the breast of Jesus Christ, until upon wrestling with broken heart and hip, we know that Jesus is ecstasy beyond compare. Pursuing the Bible’s answers should never be separated from pursuing friendship with Jesus. The altar of affliction is safe and secure because it consumes our dross, preparing us for heaven
Joni said, “Everything we do down here has a bearing on our reward in heaven.” (She was not talking about salvation, which is a gift from God to everyone who believes, but about how we live as Christians, which is our gift to God, after salvation.) Eternity is too precious, too costly to risk forfeiting our treasure there by living for earth and self here.
Another speaker mentioned this author’s favorite story about Elisabeth. When she went to a tribe of Quito Indians to help break down their language, God sent her a national Christian helper who knew both Spanish and Quito. This was a great help for her work. After only a few weeks, however, shots rang out. The Christian helper had been murdered. Elisabeth had to continue language study on her own.
After two years, around 1954, she accomplished her mission in developing a Quito alphabet. She packed all her work into a suitcase and turned it over to a coworker. The suitcase was lost, never to be found. Elisabeth took her broken and bewildered heart to God. She read God’s words to His people Israel from Isaiah 43:10, “You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior.”
She decided the linguistics work was God’s, not hers. He could do whatever He wanted with it. The servant has no right to advise or question her Master. Her real “work” was to know and believe God, to trust Him no matter what. That became her modus operandi for life.
A video tribute ended the service, featuring Elisabeth’s recorded voice telling about her first husband—Jim Elliot’s last words to her before flying off to connect with an unreached tribe in Ecuador. Because those tribal people believed a lie, they speared Jim and his four companions to death. Jim had said to her, “Teach the believers, Darling, teach the believers.”
Elisabeth spent her life doing that, becoming one of the most influential Christian women of our time. And she will continue teaching believers through her twenty-some books and recordings. If she has influenced your life, tell about it in a comment or email me by clicking on the envelope icon under my name.
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 From These Strange Ashes by Elisabeth Elliot