Reflections from the Lamp: Remembering Elisabeth Elliot

I have read Elisabeth Elliot’s A Lamp for My Feet at least a half dozen times in the past twenty years, but turned to it again at the outset of 2015.  Like an old friend, its words are familiar to me, and my copy is underlined and dog-eared and covered with scrawled verse references.  It’s a simple little book based on Elisabeth Elliot’s own personal devotions with six months of daily reflections on whatever Scripture she happened to be reading at the time.

Although I own and have read (and re-read) nearly everything Elisabeth has written, this book is in my top three, and in many ways, I have been mentored through her writing. I began reading her books with a dictionary nearby — her vocabulary far surpassed mine.  I have never met her, although I did go to hear her speak once, but was, frankly, too intimidated to go to the book table and talk to her.  By that time, she was in her early seventies and had acquired the bearing and the force of character that one would associate with Huldah, the Old Testament prophetess in King Josiah’s day, (see II Kings 22:14-20).

During the mid-90’s Elisabeth had a daily radio program, so while I was raising babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, I arranged my mornings around Gateway to Joy.  A Lamp for My Feet covers those themes for which Elisabeth was so well known:  obedience, the sovereignty of God, sacrifice, and suffering.  Her Christianity was of the bracing and invigorating variety that sustained the heroes she looked up to as a child and wrote about as an adult —  the likes of  Amy Carmichael, Lilias Trotter, and Gladys Aylward, all pioneer missionaries.

Known for being blunt and emphatic, Elisabeth Elliot brooked no excuses and suffered no whiners.  Her second husband Addison Leitch said once that some people call a spade a spade, but Elisabeth called it a bloody shovel.  In the seventies, when everyone else was talking about feminism, she was talking about femininity.  Her life was a spectacular balance of assertiveness and submission, and the fleet of present-day complementarian bloggers are among her spiritual grandchildren.  What I came to understand about Elisabeth Elliot is that she spoke with the certainty of one who had stepped into obedience enough times, who had chosen the way of faith often enough to learn the secret that the resulting joy and the deepening intimacy with God is priceless.  I find it nearly impossible to mourn her passing, because she is now experiencing the fruit of her surrendered life.

Her exhortation in the introduction to A Lamp for My Feet is classic Elisabeth Elliot:  “If you have only five minutes, don’t read my book, read God’s.  It will be a lamp for your feet.”

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

40 thoughts on “Reflections from the Lamp: Remembering Elisabeth Elliot”

  1. Lovely post, Michele. I’ve enjoyed many of Elisabeth’s writings over the years. Especially her writings on passion and purity and bible womanhood. Her biography on Amy Carmichael was wonderful as well. I pray her passing serves to bring more people to the saving knowledge of our Lord. Have a blessed week!

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  2. Michele, I have not read any of Elizabeth Elliot’s works, but after all the beautiful blog posts I have been reading lately, I think it’s time to dig in and check it out! What a beautiful tribute you leave to one of your favorite writers.

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    1. Anything she has written is helpful and wonderful. I highly recommend These Strange Ashes, Amy Carmichael’s bio (A Chance to Die), and the bio accounts of her life with Jim (as well as his journals).

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  3. You are so right. We are blessed to have mothers in the faith like this dear lady who went before us and taught us through their writings. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Elizabeth and her faithfulness to her Lord and ministry.

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  4. I’m a huge Elisabeth Elliot fan and loved your post. This summary of her is perfect: “she spoke with the certainty of one who had stepped into obedience enough times, who had chosen the way of faith often enough to learn the secret that the resulting joy and the deepening intimacy with God is priceless”. Thank you for honoring her with your words and for reminding me to celebrate her life more than I grieve her death.

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  5. Thank you for teaching me more about Elisabeth Elliot. I admit I know very little about her and her life but am intrigued to find out more. The book “A Lamp for my Feet” sounds like one that carried you through a good portion of your life besides being a good read. Barbie and I am are blessed that you shared this at The Weekend Brew.

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  6. I was so excited to be your neighbor at Spiritual Sundays when I saw you were writing about Elizabeth Elliot. She was a hero of mine, too. Heaven must have had quite a welcoming party for her!

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  7. I LOVE Elizabeth Elliot!

    I’ve not read “A Lamp for My Feet” yet, but your post has inspired me to check it out.

    I’m currently reading her book, “Be Still My Soul.”

    She was a precious saint who had a profound impact on so many lives, including mine. Thanks for sharing this tribute!

    (I came over on The Purposeful Mom Link up.)
    Blessings,
    Melanie

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  8. Michele, I was only introduced to Elisabeth Elliot in the last few years and haven’t yet had an opportunity to read any of her books, but now I know which one to start with. Thank you, Michele for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

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  9. I loved Elizabeth Elliot. Was raised on Through Gates… and prayed through The Passion of Purity. A different generation. Thanks for this great post/review of a grand and gracious life and beloved daughter of God. I will go buy that book and it will become (another) old friend. Thanks for this – next to you at Holley’s this morning in California.

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  10. Thanks for your thoughts, Michele. I haven’t read this book but have quite a few of her others. I’ve always appreciated her directness & no nonsense attitude.

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    1. Me, too, Carol. And recently re-reading Through Gates of Splendor, I was reminded that she lived what she taught from the time she was a young woman until her sad and lonely death after years of dementia.

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  11. I consider Elisabeth one of two major mentors in my life as well. I was first introduced to her in college, where Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty, and The Journals of Jim Elliot were going around among the students. I’ve read most, if not all, of her books, many of them several times over, but somehow I think I have only read A Lamp for My Feet just once. I should take another look at it some time. I was privileged to hear her speak twice, and once I did stand in line to speak to her – my pastor had wanted her to autograph a book for him and asked me to undertake that. When I finally got to her, the only thing I could think of to say was, “How do you find time to write all these books?” (Duh!!!) Her reply: “You don’t FIND time; you MAKE time.” Classic. 🙂 I actually loved her no-nonsense approach. Recently at a church function a woman spoke who had a really bubbly, giggly personality – and there is nothing wrong with that: God made different personalities to better reach different personalities, and some ladies in the church were just eating it up. But I have to admit that it grates on me and I have to work to have the right attitude with that kind of speaker and function. And it dawned on me that my favorite speakers to ladies, Elisabeth foremost among them, are not like that. They’re not morose or uncheerful, but their joy comes out differently, and they just say what needs to be said, clearly, and not unkindly, but firmly. May God raise up more people like her with that kind of dedication to God and His Word.

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    1. Thanks so much for letting me know that you were also influenced by Elisabeth Elliot’s life. Most of the time I have one of her books on my night stand and read and re-read her books just because I need that hard-hitting truth. Trying hard not to be jealous that you got to see her in person 🙂 By the time I discovered her, she was starting to slow down in her travel, so I heard her mostly on the radio. Again, thanks for sharing your memories.

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