Update: Elisabeth Elliot passed away on June 15, 2015. Hers was a life well-lived. Her books are a very important legacy that will encourage and inspire women for years to come.
I love to read. And there’s no point in keeping a good book to myself! So right now I’d like to recommend one of my absolutely favorite books. It is Keep a Quiet Heart, by Elisabeth Elliot (Servant Publications, 1995).
I have always loved Elisabeth Elliot’s writing. One time I was able to see her speak and get an autograph, and she was just as remarkable a speaker as she is a writer. Her own story is one that must command respect from anyone: married to a missionary in Ecuador who was killed by the tribe he was trying to evangelize, she returned to the tribe with her young daughter and saw many of the members of the tribe come to belief in Christ.
Since then she has been married two more times (husband #2 died of cancer, but #3 is still alive and well and they are growing old together) and has become a well-known women’s writer and speaker. She encourages women to be women (i.e., to be different from men), to gain patience and strength from heartaches, and to be self-disciplined in word, deed, and thought. She speaks from experience, and there is wisdom and also humility in her words. I am, in short, in awe of her.
A dear, older friend gave me Keep A Quiet Heart while I was still a young mom, hurried and harried and “worried and bothered about so many things” (Luke 10:41). It is a collection of essays that have been compiled from Elisabeth Elliot’s no-longer-published newsletter. She calls them “the musings of a slow learner” (p. 12). I wonder what that makes me? An even slower learner, for sure! Because even now I find comfort in its pages.
She says in her introduction,
A willing acceptance of all that God assigns and a glad surrender of all that I am and have constitute the key to receiving the gift of a quiet heart. Whenever I have balked, the quietness goes. It is restored, and life immeasurably simplified, when I have trusted and obeyed” (pp. 12-13).
So true. And her essays encourage us along that path.
For those of us with a tendency towards anxiety, this book is a huge remedy. I have had it on my nightstand for years at a time. The short length of the articles–most are just a page or two–means it is easy to pick up and put down as needed. They are loosely grouped into sections, but each can be read independently of the others. I often just pick up the book and randomly select an essay from anywhere between the covers.
I have marked my favorite in the table of contents; it is called “Waiting.”
To want what we don’t have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God…Spiritual victories are won in the quiet acceptance of ordinary events…” (p.135).
How I need to read these ideas over and over again sometimes. And over and over again over the years.
Other articles that have multiple underlinings in my bedraggled copy: “Humdudgeons or Contentment,” “The Gift of Work,” “Ever Been Bitter?” (yes, I have!), “Discerning the Call of God”-–I could go on. This book is medicine for what ails us, written by one who has been through it herself.
All of Elisabeth Elliot’s books are worth reading, but this is the one I find myself consulting again and again. And each time I come back to it I am encouraged anew. I recommend it as a book that will help all women to think the truth and quell the lies.