The Savage My Kinsman by Elisabeth Elliot tells of her time with the Auca (now known as Waorani) Indians after they had speared to death her husband and four of his missionary friends. It picks up just after the men’s deaths but before the invitation to Elisabeth and Rachel, sister of one of the other men, to come and live with the Aucas. Elisabeth writes:
I knew that if life was to go on, it must go on meaningfully. I was forced back to the real reasons for missionary work–indeed, the real reasons for living at all. My husband Jim and the four men who had gone into Auca territory had one reason: they believed it was what God wanted them to do. They took quite literally the words “the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” It is only in obeying God that we may know Him. Obedience, if it is a good reason for dying, is just as good a reason for living. I knew that there was no other answer for me. The “whys” that screamed themselves at me ay and night could not be silenced, but I could live with them if I simply went on and did the next thing.
Jim and I had been working among the Quichua Indians in a place called Shandia. I returned to Shandia. I did the things that presented themselves as duties to me each day, and in the doing of these I learned to know God a little better. To obey is to know. To know is to be at peace. I had know idea what the future might hold. It seemed impossible that I could continue the entire mangemnet of the Quichua station alone, but there was no use concerning myself with the next day. I was confident that, as in the case of the waterfowl,
There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,–
The desert and illimitable air,–
Lone wandering, but not lost….
He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.
The poem she quoted from is “To a Waterfowl” by William Cullen Bryant. I think probably nearly every wife fears at some time the prospect of widowhood, and single people can fear being alone. Elisabeth’s words and experience helped assure me that if that time ever came, though it would be painful and difficult, I could trust God to be with me and guide me “In the long way that I must tread alone.” These thought also helped a great deal in the years when my husband had to travel more frequently than I liked, which I shared a bit about in Coping when husband is away, one of my most oft-viewed posts.
See all the posts in this series here.