June 16, 2015

Elisabeth Elliot on Trusting God

I started writing this post last week, not knowing God would be taking Elisabeth a few days later. Her words really spoke to me and I wanted to share them here. I hope you take the time to read them. They are powerful and encouraging. And made me think more deeply about who God is.


Many of you have probably heard of the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. Their journey into the Ecuadoran jungle and then the murder of Jim and four other men who went deeper into the jungle to share Jesus with the natives. You may have watched the movie 'The End of the Spear' which also shares their story.




It's a powerful story and not because of what happened or who these people were, but because it revealed a little more of who God really is.

The book in itself was a little drawn out for me and talked a lot about airplanes and trips in the airplanes and drops by the airplanes... : )

But I loved reading about how the couples met each other and how they ended up in Ecuador together. I also loved Jim and Elisabeth's attitudes and joy in what they were doing. They truly loved God and their enthusiasm is contagious.

What Elisabeth writes at the end of the book in her second epilogue - January 1996, was very profound. She talks about accepting God's ways above our own. About trusting God when we don't understand and leaving all to Him.

She says here:

"There is always the urge to oversimplify, to weigh in at once with interpretations that cannot possibly cover all the data or stand up to close inspection. We know, for example, that time and again in the history of the christian church, the blood of martyrs has been its seed. So we are tempted to assume a simple equation here. Five men died. This will mean x-number of Waorani Christians.

Perhaps so. Perhaps not. Cause and effect are in God's hands. Is it not the part of faith simply to let them rest there? 

God is God. 

I dethrone Him in my heart if I demand that He act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice. It is the same spirit that taunted, 'If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross.' There is unbelief, there is even rebellion, in the attitude that says, 'God has no right to do this to five men unless...'

Those men had long since given themselves without reservation to do the will of God. So far as they knew, they were to be plain ordinary missionaries - Roj to the Atshuaras; Jim, Ed and Pete to the Quichuas, Nate to serve all the jungle stations with his airplane. But small things happen (Nate found some inhabited Waorani houses). Small decisions are made (he told Jim and Ed), which lead to bigger ones (they began to pray with new vigor for an entrance into the territory), and ultimately a man's individual choices become momentous. 

Plain, ordinary missionaries with wives and children whom they loved found themselves faced with a life and death decision. They were not looking for anything bigger to do, let alone for fame. The need of the Waoranis simply became the categorical imperative."

Later she writes:

"I believe with all my heart that God's Story has a happy ending...

...But not yet, not necessarily yet. It takes faith to hold on to that in the face of the great burden of experience, which seems to prove otherwise. What God means by happiness and goodness is a far higher thing than we can conceive."

Then she reflects on the massacre:

"The massacre was a hard fact, widely reported at the time, surprisingly well remembered by many even today. It was interpreted according to the measure of one's faith or faithfulness - full of meaning or empty. A triumph or a tragedy. An example of brave obedience or a case of fathomless foolishness. The beginning of a great work, a demonstration of the power of God, a sorrowful first act that would lead to a beautifully predictable third act in which all puzzles would be solved, God would vindicate Himself. Waoranis would be converted, and we could all 'feel good' about our faith. Bulletins about progress were hailed with joy and a certain amount of 'Ah! You see!' 

But the danger lies in seizing upon the immediate and hoped-for, as though God's justice is thereby verified, and glossing over as neatly as possible certain other consequences, some of them inevitable, others simply the result of a botched job. In short, in the Waorani story as in other stories, we are consoled as long as we do not examine too closely the unpalatable data. By this evasion we are willing still to call the work 'ours' to arrogate to ourselves whatever there is of success, and to deny all failure.

A healthier faith seeks a reference point outside all human experience, the Polestar which marks the course of all human events, not forgetting that impenetrable mystery of the interplay of God's will and man's (e.g. 'He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief'; 'Jesus was handed over to the power of men'; 'Thou hast set me free to range at will')."


Life is messy and faith is messy. We should never put our trust in either of them, but in God alone.

"My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him."
                                      Psalm 62:5

Elisabeth closed with this:

"It is not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God's and the call is God's and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package - our bravery and our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses. 

The God who could take a murderer like Moses and an adulterer like David and a traitor like Peter and make of them strong servants of His is a God who can also redeem savage Indians, using as the instruments of His peace a conglomeration of sinners who sometimes look like heroes and sometimes like villains, for 'we are no better than pots of earthenware to contain this treasure (The revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ), and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is God's alone' (2 Corinthians 4:7, NEB).

We are not always sure where the horizon is. We should not know which end is up were it not for the shimmering pathway of light falling on the white sea. The One who laid earth's foundation and settled its dimensions knows where the lines are drawn. 

He gives all the light we need for trust and for obedience."


When things don't turn out the way we think they should we may question God or even hold some resentment against Him, but that doesn't change who God is or how great His love is for us.

As Elisabeth said, 'God is God.'

Do I think it is a coincidence that I would start writing this post at this time? No, I don't believe in coincidence. Everything has a purpose and maybe that was for you to read Elisabeth's words today.



"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;


In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."


                                   Proverbs 3:5-6


Buy it HERE on Amazon


40 comments:

  1. Such a fitting tribute to an amazing woman of God. She will be missed, but we can look forward to meeting up with her in eternity.

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    1. She was a wonderful woman. I'm looking forward to learning more from her in some of her other books.

      Thanks for stopping by Cheryl! : )

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  2. Cathy - I am your neighbor over at Women with Intention. Thank you so much for sharing and honoring Elisabeth Elliot. This quote by Elisabeth is powerful: "I dethrone Him in my heart if I demand that He act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice. It is the same spirit that taunted, 'If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross.'" Lord search my heart and show me when I dethrone you. She was such a wonderful, graceful, strong, amazing woman of God. Thank you again - Blessings to you

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    1. Isn't that a powerful quote! Glad you stopped by Debbie and gleaned from her words. : )

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  3. What a great summary of this wonderful book! I read it many years ago, and your excerpts brought back sweet memories. Elisabeth was an inspiration to me and millions of others, I heard her first on Moody Radio in the 1990's and have passed along her godly advice to my daughter, and she to her circle of influence...especially, "do the next thing"... many blessings to you.

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    1. I had heard of Elisabeth Elliot, but had not read any of her books until a few years ago and I'm glad I did! She really was an inspiration on how to live for and love the Lord.

      Thanks for stopping by Beth. : )

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  4. What a blessing and inspiration to many her life was, and this post was something I needed to read today (and maybe every day in fact)! Ahhh, I just LOVE this. Thank you, thank you for sharing it. I've always been a huge fan of hers and I have the original "Through Gates of Splendor" which is my mom's copy. It always drew me when I was young.
    I'm your neighbor today on Three Word Wednesday!

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    1. Glad you stopped by and enjoyed Elisabeth's encouragement Ruthie! : )

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  5. So much to take in, not the least of which is "what God means by happiness and goodness is a far higher thing than we can conceive." Thank you for this!

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    1. Elisabeth Elliot is someone you read over and over, so much good stuff! Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth. : )

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  6. I think it's neat Elisabeth Elliot was already on your mind when she passed away. I read this book a long time ago, and I'm thinking I want to re-read it.

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    1. I read the book over a month ago, but kept thinking about what she said in the epilogue. Finally, I just had to share it. : )

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  7. I was also reading an Elisabeth Elliot book and planning a review before she had passed away - but then again, I'm usually looking at one of her books because I love her writing. Thanks for this lovely tribute to a life that impacted so many.

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    1. That's awesome! She was such a great writer and communicator.

      Thanks for coming by my blog today Michele. : )

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  8. Elisabeth was one of my faith heroine's. I loved visiting here from Weekend Brew and getting to read these wonderful words.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed them! Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth. : )

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  9. Great review and I love reading a piece of her life. I just was reading some of her most well known quotes and loved her faith and how she approached life. Barbie and I love having you as part of The Weekend Brew community.

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    1. Thank-you Mary and Barbie! I'm thankful to be able to link-up with you. I also have been reading some of Elisabeth Elliot's great quotes from other blogs sharing them. So encouraging aren't they. : )

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  10. Thank you. Since I ain't a young 'un, I've read this original situation when I was about 11 in Tacoma, WA, and laid on the living room floor to look at the newspaper, and this was on it strongly! Following along with the way things changed...especially when I was in my early 20s... I tried to keep up with the missionary issues. She was well known and very well reaching out to people in Ecuador and our nation, and probably sharing truthfulism around our world. NOW she's in heaven, officially meeting her Heavenly Father and seeing many who have touched and followed her. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story. She has impacted so many and you are right she is now meeting some of those people in heaven! Glad you stopped by. : )

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  11. What a sweet read this is. We should make more women like her. Such an inspiration.

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    1. Yes I agree! Thanks for stopping by Lux. : )

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  12. I'm your neighbor at Literary Musing Monday (yep in Sunday!). How beautifully you conveyed the impact she had. Now she is rejoycing before the Lord.

    Would you be open to reviewing Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace? I'd be so honored if so. Susan

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Susan. I'm not taking any requests for reviews right now, but thank-you for considering me. : )

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  13. Isn't she amazing? I have read the book and have read a childrens' biography to the kids. She has achieved so much in her life on this earth - just imagine how many people she has touched?

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    1. Oh I'd like to find that children's biography of Elisabeth! That would be great to share. Thanks for stopping by Jayne. : )

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  14. I've loved reading all the posts about Mrs. Elliot. She was one of my heros at a time I was desperately needing a model. I've been imagining the welcome she enjoyed in heaven -- seeing the Savior she followed all these year

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    1. I know, me too! She must be ecstatic! Thanks for stopping by Pamela. : )

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  15. I have always wanted to read this book. Now that I have read your review, I have it on my list. Thanks.
    ~ linda @ http://the-reader-and-the-book-reviews.weebly.com/blog/

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    1. It's an amazing story. Hope you get to read it someday. Thanks for stopping by. : )

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  16. Great review. Thanks for sharing this story and inspiring words of this Christian lady on Literacy Musing Mondays. I love her writing.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Mary. : )

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  17. Thanks so much for sharing this wisdom.

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  18. How cool that you were preparing post even as she passed on to glory. Her faith was so solid. As her life showed and her words. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Yes, I agree. I want to grow in my faith like she did too.

      Thanks for stopping by Traci. : )

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  19. I heard a radio clip from her speaking to college students -- it was powerful. She must have been an amazing women to have known or even to have just been in her presence. She was a beautiful servant of God.

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  20. It would have been nice to see her speak in person. Thanks for stopping by ibeeeg!

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays Cathy. What an amazing woman and such a Godly example. Thanks and Blessings

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    1. I agree! Thanks for stopping by Terri. : )

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Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. I try to respond to all of them by the end of the week. : )

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