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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Elisabeth Elliot

Continuing with our Top Ten Series featuring my favorite authors:

#7: Elisabeth Elliot

A couple of years after I became a Christian, I read a book called Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot, and in her simple, yet powerful way, she immediately called me to go deeper in my faith than I’d ever gone before. I was always struck by the title of the book. Some people are wired to follow routines. Some are a little more on the free spirit side of things. But regardless of where a person fits on the spectrum, the idea of discipline being a glad surrender doesn’t seem natural. And truth be told, it’s not. I think that was her point. When we get beyond our natural desires and seek to obey God, the process becomes a glad surrender.

Over the years, I’ve heard Elisabeth speak many times. She often refers to a phrase that Amy Carmichael, the great Irish missionary who spent fifty-three straight years in India without taking a furlough, used all the time: “in acceptance lieth peace.” I’ve taken great comfort from those words over the years. I’ve wanted to change many of my circumstances—from relationships that haven’t worked out, to a father who died—but great truth lies in Carmichael’s small but profound statement. In accepting what the Lord wills or allows, peace follows. I bought Elliot’s biography about Amy Carmichael recently called A Chance to Die and I’m anxious to read it.

Last year, I read a book by Elliot called The Path of Loneliness. I wrote a couple of posts about it here and here. It’s an incredibly powerful book for people struggling with loneliness—and who among us hasn’t done so at some point? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: “Loneliness is one kind of ‘dying’ most of us learn about sooner or later. Far from being ‘bad’ for us, a hindrance to spiritual growth, it may be the means of unfolding spiritual ‘blossoms’ hitherto enfolded…”

Elliot is a graceful woman who is filled with wisdom about faith and life. And I have such respect for her. I asked her to endorse my singles book, Single Servings, several years ago and she had her husband call me to talk about it. In the end, she felt like she couldn’t relate to singles in the way I was addressing them—meaning the world had changed a lot since she’d been single and she was losing track of the new terminology singles use and the way singles were living their lives. I totally understood why she couldn’t endorse the book. I’m already feeling like I’m losing touch when the generation behind me. I told her husband to thank her for even considering an endorsement.

By my count, she’s written 25 books and I doubt if you’d go wrong by devouring any of them. I have several of her books in my “to be read” pile and I can’t wait to get to them.


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