Someone commented early on in this series that I should list some of Elisabeth’s books, particularly those that are autobiographical. I think all of her books are autobiographical to a degree, though there is not any one that tells her whole life story. I hope that someone will put all the pieces together in a biography of her someday soon. I’ve also had a few comments from people who had never heard of her or didn’t know much about her, so I thought a book list would be a good idea. I am using the original publication dates where I can find them: many of them have been reprinted multiple times, some with an update from Elisabeth in them, so on Amazon or other places the more recent date they show is that of the reprint.
Books by Elisabeth Elliot
Through Gates of Splendor (1957) was her first, in which she told the story of her husband and the four other missionaries who were killed by the Auca (now known as Waorani) Indians in the 1950s. I reviewed it here. This book started me on the path of reading missionary biographies and reading Elisabeth Elliot.
The Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (1958) is her biography of Jim. This and his journals were prime reading material among many students when I was in college.
The Savage My Kinsman (1961) tells of Elisabeth’s years working with the Aucas/Waorani after Jim’s death.
These Strange Ashes: Is God Still in Charge? is an account of her first year as a missionary, before her marriage to Jim, and if I remember correctly, contains the account of the murder of the man who was helping her translate the Colorado language and her wrestlings with why God allowed it to happen.
Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control (1984) shares her love story with Jim, which was not a smooth one, as they both originally thought God wanted them to be single missionaries. They were willing for that, if that was what God wanted, though they did love each other. This book mainly talks about the need to put God first in one’s love life and to trust Him for the outcome.
Quest For Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity contains Elisabeth’s answers to questions people sent her after reading Passion and Purity.
Furnace of the Lord: Reflections on the Redemption of the Holy City (1969) contains some of her thoughts as she visited Israel (out of print).
Let Me Be a Woman (1977) was written not long before her daughter was married and discusses what the Bible has to say about Biblical womanhood.
The Mark of a Man:Following Christ’s Example of Masculinity, originally written for a nephew.
Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God’s Mercy and Our Pain. Excellent – one of my top three favorite books on suffering.
The Shaping of a Christian Family. “Drawing from 40 years of observation and her own family experience, Elliot illustrates how we can create a fulfilling Christian home based on Scriptural principles and values.” (Out of print).
God’s Guidance: A Slow and Certain Light (Out of print)
Taking Flight: Wisdom for Your Journey, for graduates (out of print).
A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael (1987), her only full biography other than Jim’s (out of print).
No Graven Image, 1966, is her only foray into fiction, but it is based somewhat on her first years as a missionary, also out of print.
All of the following are collections of her thoughts on a wide variety of topics, arising from her study of God’s Word: marriage, motherhood, singleness, abortion, as well as a gamut of aspects on the Christian life:
Twelve Baskets of Crumbs (1977) (out of print).
All That Was Ever Ours (1988)(out of print).
I’ve read the majority of these, though it was some years ago for most of them. Most her books can be ordered on Amazon and other sites as well as her website, along with some CDs and DVDs. There are also a few videos of her speaking on YouTube. Many of her out of print books can still be found used on Amazon and other places.
In addition to her books, her newsletters, which were published every other month from 1982 to 2003, can be found here. Some of the material made its way into her books and vice versa. She also had a radio program called Gateway to Joy for almost 13 years, ending in 2001. Back to the Bible used to have transcripts of it on their site, but, sadly, they don’t any more. However, the Bible Broadcasting Network has started replaying them at 11:15 a.m. on BBN stations, or they can be listened to at that time through live streaming here or on their mobile app, or they can be listened to on demand here.
After Elisabeth Elliot passed away, I was glad to learn that her memorial service would be available online. It was rather long (2+ hours), so it took me a while to have the time to watch it, but I am glad I did. You can find the whole service here.
It looked like they cut out all but one of the grandchildren’s testimonies. I was sorry to see that. I am not sure whether it was because of the time factor or whether theirs would have been a bit too personal. But there were testimonies from a number of personal friends and family members.
It was wonderful both to be reminded of aspects of her life I was familiar with and to learn a few new things. Her daughter, Valerie Shephard, reads some excerpts from her mother’s journal. Elisabeth never tried to portray herself as perfect and was always honest about her shortcomings, but readings from her journal were raw, recounting grief over her impatience with the Indians (which touched me, having battled my own impatience lately – again), times she felt like a failure, her missing her husband in the days after his death, her frustration in dealing with some issues that he usually dealt with. Part of me hopes that some day they might publish her journals, but I would understand if they didn’t: she shared much of her life publicly already, and I would not be surprised if they might want to keep some things private. But that short glimpse helped me see her anew as a woman “of like passions as we are,” who had to deal with grief and frustrations and wrong attitudes and then adjust them in light of Scriptural teaching and what she knew about her Father’s character and workings.
Valerie’s segment as well as that of Joni Eareckson Tada were my favorite parts, though I enjoyed all the testimonies.
A few other observations: I enjoyed the majestic old hymns, something I knew Elisabeth appreciated and used in her devotional times. Evidently she taught them to her children and grandchildren as well. I love many new hymns, but some of these old ones I had not heard in a long time. At first I was going to try to skip through some of the singing to get to the speeches, but I am glad I didn’t.
I loved hearing about her humor. She doesn’t strike you as a funny person at first, but she enjoyed a good laugh.
I also enjoyed seeing photos I had not seen before, including some of places and people and even pets.
But the thing that struck me most was Elisabeth’s interest in and ministry to people. She wasn’t just off at a desk writing all the time. Honestly, that would be my own preference. I often don’t know what to say “in the moment.” That’s one reason I like writing and blogging – I can turn things over in my mind, write a bit, let it sit for a while and come back to it, and finally after days or months give you a fairly thorough answer or opinion on something. But that can’t substitute for an interest in and ministry to people in everyday moments, and one thing those testimonies did was to awaken and encourage that in me.
I thought it would be fitting, at then end of our time with Elisabeth Elliot this month, to close with this video that was shown at the memorial service. This video is a little longish – I don’t often click on videos on people’s blogs that are longer that a minute or two, and this one is over 16. But I think if you have time and you read and loved her at all, this is a worthwhile listen. I’ll forewarn you that there is a bit of what a former pastor used to call “National Geographic-style nudity,” but it is only in the few minutes describing her time working with the tribe that she ministered to, who wore nothing but a string around their hips. I hope you have a chance to watch this, and I hope it is a blessing to you.
Though Elisabeth would never want to be out on a pedestal, as she once said of others in the faith whom we admire, so I think we can say this of her:
Pedestals are for statues. Usually statues commemorate people who have done something admirable. Is the deed worth imitating? Does it draw me out of myself, set my sights higher? Let me remember the Source of all strength (“The Lord is the strength of my life,” says Ps 27:1 AV) and, cheered by the image of a human being in whom that strength was shown, follow his example.
I have enjoyed this time over the past month reminding myself of things Elisabeth said. I hope you have as well. Thank you for your kind comments!
To see all the posts in this series, see the bottom of this post.