Devotedly tells the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot's unique devotion to God and to each other.

Jim and Elisabeth Elliot: A Deep and Delighted Love

He said:  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

She said:  “The deepest lessons come out the deepest waters and the hottest fires.”

And all the world still takes note, for Jim Elliot was a courageous missionary pioneer and martyr. Elisabeth Elliot was a superior writer and a sought after Bible teacher. Both are remembered as spiritual giants.

He also said:  “I didn’t know I would get this way, Betty, but I am lost, utterly lost without you. I love you, my darling, and sometimes just have to stop where I am and heave a sigh.”

She also said:  “I love you madly, and think their just isn’t anyone else to compare. Are you sure you’re not perfect? I think you must be mistaken, because I just love everything about you.”

But of course these words were private, addressed to each other, and sent by mail from separate South American mission outposts in the days leading up to their wedding. Valerie Elliot Shepard has combed through her parents’ letters and journals and the resulting treasure is Devotedly: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. While the story of their courtship has been told in Elisabeth’s classic Passion and Purity, it is now possible for readers to trace the unfolding romance from love’s first stirring at Wheaton College in the late 1940’s all the way through the birth of their daughter Valerie.

A Persevering Love

When Jim and Elisabeth (“Betty”) landed in classical Greek classes together, the love that grew between them surprised them both. She was serious and studious; he was a visible presence on campus (and something of a character) who was quite vocal about his intentions to embark upon a career as a single missionary.  Nonetheless, through crisscrossing postmarks and star-crossed years of separation by circumstances and geography, their love persevered and survived five long years of waiting for a green light from God. Journal entries and letters document a growing devotion to each other alongside an expanding desire to follow unswervingly the will of God, even if it meant giving up all hope for a future together.

Listen in:

From Elisabeth’s journal (116):

“Oh, the joy which has come in knowing that I am one with Christ . . . oh, the marvelous, unspeakable interchange of joy–He my joy, I His joy–He my satisfaction, I His satisfaction. For I am accepted in the Beloved. . . I am In Christ–may He be seen in me.”

And from Jim’s journal (31):

“Prayed a strange prayer today. I covenanted with my Father that He would do either of two things–either glorify Himself to the utmost in me, or slay me. By His grace I shall not have His second best. . .”

A Persevering Faithfulness

Just as young adults in 2019 cannot conceive of a relationship conducted entirely by snail mail, it is also likely that few can visualize a love in which each seeks his greatest satisfaction not in the beloved, but in the Savior. Because they allowed their vision to be shaped by Truth, Jim and Elisabeth were able to maintain an astonishing degree of clarity about their callings while still acknowledging the depth of their longing for one another. When the Bible says, “In Your light we see light,” this is not a promise of an uncluttered and pain free life, but rather an assurance that while “faith does not eliminate questions, faith knows where to take them.”

Valerie Shepard’s stated purpose in unpacking and sharing this trunk full of written memories left to her by her mother is that readers would discover anew God’s “unchanging, faithful, merciful, and loving character,” and be “fully moved in obedience to Him that we too might leave a lasting legacy of faith as [her] parents did.” (45) With mid-twentieth-century black-and-white pictures, images lifted from the handwritten letters, and a vintage feel to the book’s layout, Devotedly was a delight to read and to savor.

Readers can expect to be challenged by the laser focus of two young adults who took seriously their role as disciples–as followers of “Him who bore a cross.” As a mother and a grandmother, I want to let my prayer life be shaped by the knowledge that my most-loved people will not be exempt from disappointment, delay, or even confusion at times, for perseverance through difficulty is often the tool God uses in the shaping of a deeper devotion and a more faithful following.


Many thanks to B&H Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

“You are loved with an everlasting love. That’s what the Bible says. And underneath are the everlasting arms,”

michele signature[1]


P.S. I recently read and reviewed the book Elisabeth wrote about her days of waiting and wondering, while adjusting to life as a single missionary. Made for the Journey: One Missionary’s First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador is a beautiful account of radical obedience in a context of wondering what God might be up to.

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase Devotedly: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Published by

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 nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. 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.

69 thoughts on “Jim and Elisabeth Elliot: A Deep and Delighted Love”

  1. Absolutely beautiful Michele. Sadly, modern life equips us to expect quick gratification, your words are a timely reminder of what really matters. Visiting from Esme Salon.

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  2. Oh my list is getting so full. In the meantime I ordered the sample, I am sure I won’t be able to wait too long on this one. Thank you for sharing such a precious review again, Michele. My heart is so blessed today in these words.

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  3. Aww, how sweet is that?! Michele, I absolutely love that the Elliot’s daughter is sharing her parent’s love story with the world. And I can see how their deep love and affection for God primed them to have one of the best love stories between a man and woman the world has known. I’ll have to check it out! Thanks, my friend! I’ll be pinning!

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    1. Valerie actually received the letters and journals when her eight (8!!) children were all young and so she put them away until she had time for them–and then forgot where they were! Her goal in sharing is to pass along the legacy of her parents to inspire another generation.

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  4. He is no fool to give up what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose! I love The Elliots. She used to live right down the road from me! #mixitup

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  5. Wow, I got chills reading what Jim Elliot had put in his diary: ““Prayed a strange prayer today. I covenanted with my Father that He would do either of two things–either glorify Himself to the utmost in me, or slay me. By His grace I shall not have His second best. . .”

    Prophetic!

    Their love story is an uncommon one, for sure! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Isn’t that just amazing? My youngest son is reading The Journals of Jim Elliot right now for school, and I keep taking little peeks at it and being blown away by the depth of his words–especially since I have sons who are about the same age.

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  6. You are the second person today who has mentioned perseverance. The whole concept I have to give to God over and over because just thinking about it inspires fear in me of the unknown hard places. I love, though, that these two grew in love with each other by growing more and more in love with God.

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  7. I’m going to have to read this book! It sounds amazing. I heard Elisabeth Elliot speak years ago when my children were little. I’ll never forget one word of advise she gave. It helped me as a young mom and still helps me today when I get overwhelmed by my to-do list. Just do the next thing.

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  8. I ordered this book almost as soon as I knew about it. I’ve been reading Elisabeth for around 40 years now and knew much of her love story with Jim. But it will be good to read it all in one place. Plus it has been a while since I read his journals and her earliest writings, so it will be fun to revisit those writings and have the blanks filled in. I am looking forward to it! What an example of putting God first and ordering all of life around His will.

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    1. The fun of this book is reading the he said/she said aspect of it. Valerie managed to match up the letters and journal entries chronologically, so the reader gets a pretty comprehensive view of the internal dialogue.

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  9. As we have shared before, Elizabeth Elliot helped shaped my legacy. Looking forward to your guest post about Elizabeth at MandyandMichele later this year. Thank you for sharing this beautiful love story.

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  10. This book sounds intriguing especially after having just finished “Becoming Mrs. Lewis”. I know they are not the same since the latter is fiction but something about real life love stories captivates me.

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    1. Oh, I get it! So many differences between the stories, and yet at the heart, there’s the working of God behind the scenes to make something really spectacular happen between two people.

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  11. Michele, your post is inspriing and challenging. I admired Elizabeth Elliot greatly. They both were amazing. I heard her say once that she viewed the rats in an apartment building she had to live in when she was single as training for the mission field. How many of us would respond like that?

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    1. I know, really!?!?
      She managed to take herself outside a bad situation and look at it from an eternal perspective. In the book, Valerie describes this as being “very strict” with herself.
      I need some of that strictness, myself.

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  12. Great review Michele! You bought that book alive! I am looking forward to reading it, as I admired Elizabeth Elliot’s faith in the face of such sadness, it encouraged me when I faced my late husband’s terminal illness & death.
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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  13. I’ve learned so much from Jim and Elisabeth over the past couple of decades! This looks like another fantastic read! Thanks for sharing, Michele!

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  14. mmm … hand-penned letters and journals, faded photographs. all so telling, romantic, a lovely peek into a long standing relationship with each other and with God.

    sad to say, this generation probably won’t have this kind of hands-on legacy for their children’s children.

    and that’s really kinda sad …

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    1. So true-we are so digital now that even photos are invisible, stored on a disc or a drive somewhere. I keep a running letter to each of my sons in a journal that I started for each one when their “baby book” got filled up. Hoping that they will be able to read my cursive which is NOT beautiful like Elisabeth’s.

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  15. I just love the influence Jim & Elisabeth Elliot have had on the world! I don’t think they would have had such an impact had that “tragedy” not happened back in the 50s. Makes me think of Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery, but God used it for good. I was privileged to speak at a ladies conference years ago with Betty. She is a remarkable woman. No doubt had she handled things differently their impact would not have been so great. I have always admired how she allowed to Lord to use that situation in her life. Thanks for the great book review, and thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

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    1. Isn’t it hard to think in those terms? But I do agree with you. Everything within us rises up against the death of a passionate young man, and yet, from his writing, it’s clear that he viewed his own life as merely a tool in the hands of God for the redemption of the world. Elisabeth described herself as a vessel.
      Very thankful for their God-centered view of the word and of their own lives.

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  16. I didn’t know about this book- I’ll have to look for it. It sounds like it would be a really interesting read, I love their story!

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  17. Hey Michele, I love all things Jim and Elisabeth Elliott. How sweet that their daughter produced this book. Their faith was so genuine, and their commitment to God so deep; their love for one another so pure. Thank you for sharing this lovely book. It’s definitly worthy of lining our shelves.

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  18. What a beautiful review to what seems to be a wonderful book, Michele!
    I often think that the reason for the devotion my husband and I share for over 20 years is exactly the same: we are both in love with our Savior. It’s a blessed love triangle! 🙂

    Thanks for this beautiful post!

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  19. I am enticed to read this book because of your review. It is a unique love story that not many people have and the fact that they shared and kept all those letters is a wonderful treat for the rest of us. I just added it to my amazon cart and can’t wait to read it. Thanks for linking it up with us at #OMHGWW!

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  20. I LOVE the Elliots (as well as all of the families of the missionaries that were killed). I feel like they had such a special relationship so this book definitely interests me! Have you seen the movie The End of the Spear?

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  21. Ooh, I hope to read this one soon! I have always been so inspired by these two, and this book looks to be a treasure! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
    Tina

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