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Through Gates of Splendor Posted 6.18.2015

This week, Elisabeth Elliot died. I never met her, though through her writing I got a glimpse into her soul.  I do think I heard her speak once in a college chapel service.  But honestly, I don’t remember too much about the occasion.  This week, John Piper wrote a fascinating piece reflecting on her life.  He mentioned her suffering.  It was just the loss of her first husband at the hands of Auca Indians as they served as missionaries.  Her second husband died as well, and she spent the last years of life struggling with Alzheimer’s.

 

He talked about her ideas of womanhood – truth not all that popular in today’s culture.  But then he concluded with these words:

 

Finally, I loved her because she never got her teeth fixed. I would still love her if she had gotten a dental makeover to pull her two front teeth together. But she didn’t. Am I ending on a silly note? You judge.

 

She was captured by Christ. She was not her own. She was supremely mastered, not by any ordinary man, but by the King of the universe. He had told her,

 

Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious . . . and do not fear anything that is frightening.  (1 Peter 3:3-6)

 

Whether it was the spears of the Ecuadorian jungle or the standards of American glamor, she would not be cowed. “Do not fear anything that is frightening.” That is the mark of a daughter of Abraham. And in our culture one of the most frightening things women face is not having the right figure, the right hair, the right clothes — or the right teeth. Elisabeth Elliot was free from that bondage.

 

Finally, she wrote, “We are women, and my plea is Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.”

 

That prayer was answered this week as she passed through gates of splendor.

 

But I am left pondering a question – especially in light of the visit we just enjoyed with the Saniels.  Who will be so captured for Christ in our generation that the world will change?  Who will commit to make heart and educational preparations to serve next to the Saniels in Central Asia?  The people of God must know truth and love well.  Influence is rarely accidental.

 

Apparently, Elisabeth was blunt.  Not ungracious, not impetuous, not snappy or gruff.  But, according to Piper, direct, unsentimental, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, no whining allowed.  Just pull your britches on and go die for Jesus.  Just like Mary Slessor and Gladys Aylward and Amy Carmichael and Eleanor Macomber and Lottie Moon and Rosalind Goforth and Malla Moe.  And Flor.  Changing lives in Central Asia for Jesus.

 

 


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