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The Writings of Jim Elliot

I am impressed by the men and women in history who have literally given their lives for Christ. I am talking about the martyrs of the Christian faith. I’m not talking about people who longed to die for Christ – the real martyrs were merely interested in living for Him and dying for Him was natural consequence of their living faith. I am afraid that many today would espouse such a faith but when it came down to it, their faith would falter. I wonder if my own faith would make the cut.


This week I have been reading the life and journals of Jim Elliot – a man who was slain by the very people to whom He went to share the Good News of life in Christ! Jim Elliot was a simple young man. He did not have postgraduate degrees in theology and he was certainly not the founder of “Jim Elliot Ministries.” He was a man who was deeply touched by God’s Word and moved by His Spirit. Here are a few sections of his journals that have greatly touched me this last week:


A prayer: “Lord, make my way prosperous, not that I achieve high station, but that my life may be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.”


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


When Jim Elliot went to college he was seeking a college degree. But the most important degree he could receive would be the A.U.G. degree – the Approved Unto God degree.


Jim set his alarm every night to waken him in time for prayer and study of the Bible. “None of it gets to be ‘old stuff,'” he wrote, “for it is Christ in print, the Living Word. We wouldn’t think of rising in the morning without a face-wash, but we often neglect aht purgative cleansing of the Word of the Lord. It wakes us up to our responsibility.”


“How wonderful to know that Christianity is more than a padded pew or a dim cathedral, but that it is a real, living, daily experience which goes on from grace to grace. And its goal — sometimes seemingly distant, but bright and unfading, lit up and glowing with the beauties of the Sun of Righteousness.”


“God is still on His throne, we’re still on His footstool, and there’s only a knee’s distance between!”


“Cold prayers, like cold suitors, are seldom effective in their aims.”


“What a brutish master sin is, taking the joy from one’s life, stealing money and health, giving promise of tomorrow’s pleasures and finally leading one onto the rotten planking that overlies the mouth of the pit. It is with honest praise to God I can look up tonight and rejoice in His loving-kindness in delivering me from a life of useless frustration and the ultimate agonies of the gnawing, undying worms of remorse and regret.”


“Missionaries are very human folks, just doing what they are asked. Simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody.”


In studying the separation of the Levites in Deuteronomy 9 and 10, and of their having “no inheritance,” he wrote, “Lord, if Thou wilt but allow me to take this set-apart place, by Thy grace, I shall covet no inheritance. Nothing but Christ.”


“No one warns young people to follow Adam’s example. He waited till God saw his need. Then God made Adam sleep, prepared for his mate, and brought her to him. We need more of this ‘being asleep’ in the will of God. Then we can receive what He brings us in His own time, if at all. Instead we are set as bloodhounds after a partner, considering everyone we see until our minds are so concerned with the sex problem that we can talk of nothing else when bull-session time comes around. It is true that a fellow cannot ignore women — but he can think of them as he ought — as sisters, not as sparring partners.”


“Fix your eyes on the rising Morning Star. Don’t be disappointed at anything or overelated, either. Live every day as if the Son of Man were at the door, and gear your thinking to the fleeting moment. Just how can it be redeemed? Walk as if the next step would carry you across the threshold of Heaven. Pray. That saint who advances on his knees never retreats.”


“Our young men are going into the professional fields because they don’t ‘feel called’ to the mission field. We don’t need a call; we need a kick in the pants.”


Elisabeth Elliot,  Shadow of the Almighty: The Life & Testament of Jim Elliot. NYC: HarperOne, 1979.

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