Read His Words Before Ours!
I have one desire now — to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.
I’m nearing the end of my time here on this earth, and with each moment that passes by, I’m reminded of the life that I have lived over the last eighty-eight years.
My mind isn’t as sharp as it once was all those years ago. I’m forgetful. I’m slower in pace. But my heart for the Father is as receptive and eager as ever.
Many have referred to me as having a reckless faith with an immense amount of freedom.
In my mind, there wasn’t another way to live.
I can still see it, that tiny shack of a house in the deep jungles of Ecuador with my first husband, Jim. Oh to have known Jim would’ve been to know more of the Father! Jim moved in accordance to the Holy Spirit’s steps in everything. Although he never came out and said it, he knew that when we got to Ecuador, there was a good chance he would never return to America.
Our time together was cut short, as Jim and four others were killed while ministering to the Aucas tribe. They were known for not being receptive to white people, but after years of preparation and learning the language with the help of a local missionary, the team thought that they had an in with a tribe member. We were hopeful, and anticipating all that the Lord would do.
The morning they left, the husbands had pre-arranged a signal to let us wives know they had made it safely. We tried to go about our normal day, cooking, cleaning, and teaching English to the local little ones. The minutes suddenly began to turn into hours, and in our hearts we knew something was wrong. With each hour that passed, I would write in my journal and pray. The Lord has always been my strength, and this time was no different. While praying, we received word that the aircraft was circling the site to see if they could spot any bodies.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:44-45
I believed the Lord would be my strength, regardless of what happened.
Jim and I had fallen madly in love, gotten married rather quickly, and had our daughter soon after. We spent most of our time apart, as he was with the local Ecuadorian missionary trying to learn as much as he could before they made their initial outreach. I knew that God had me there for a purpose as well, and that is when I began to form relationships with those around me. I wanted people to know the Gospel, I wanted them to know the depths of the Father’s love. This wasn’t just Jim’s ministry, it was mine!
Our worst nightmare became a reality as it was confirmed the next day, all five men were dead. In one instant I went from being Jim’s wife, to being a widow. My heart was broken. Jim and the rest of the men had worked so hard. In that moment of shock, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me “Elisabeth, your time in Ecuador isn’t done yet. I have much more for you to do here.” His assured strength was undergirding me!
I returned home for a couple years to grieve, gather myself, and lean into that strength of the Lord. I remembered the words the Spirit spoke to me the day Jim died, and, by faith, I returned, to that same part of the jungle, with my three-year-old daughter, and Rachel, wife of one of the other men who had been speared alongside Jim.
My heart was burdened for these unreached people! Jim’s eternity was secure, but theirs was not. I needed to show them that I loved them, just as they were, and that I forgave them for what they had done. Rachel and I spent five years learning the Gospel in the Aucas language. I can so vividly remember the gentle sway of the hammock hanging between two trees where I studied as precious little Valerie napped on my chest. The Aucas language was made up of many sounds, so translating it into an alphabet was tedious, making for late nights translating by candlelight. But, we pressed on, fueled by the goal to present the Aucas with the Bible in their own language. With each verse translated, I prayed for receptive hearts. Even if just one Aucas would come to know our Father in Heaven, then everything was worth it.
When we had completed the entire translation, we knew it was time to meet. So one bright morning, we left our home, and went to meet the Tribe. I was anxious. Not for fear, but because I was confident God would do something incredible, I just knew it.
Jim and Elisabeth Elliot were missionaries to the Aucas and surrounding tribes in the 1950’s. Many came to know the Lord because of their faith in Jesus, and their bravery to follow Him no matter what. I wonder, what might this same God do for the eternal Kingdom, if I gave Him my everything?
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