Just finished reading “The Shadow of the Almighty—The Life & Testament of Jim Elliot” as compiled by Elisabeth Elliot a couple of days ago. The book is a compilation of Jim Elliot’s journal writings, letters sent to his family and friends, along with context and additional text by Elisabeth Elliot.
I was eager to finish it and there were so many relatable passages that resonated in me as I went along, so I conveniently folded the top corners (sometimes the bottom ones, when the passages lie closer toward the lower part of the book), neglecting the fact that the book belongs to my sister who doesn’t appreciate a well-worn book as much as I do.
Anyhow, here is a compilation of most of the passages that struck a chord in me whose corners still remain folded. For the sake of future reference, all passages will follow in parenthesis with the title of the chapter, the page number, as well as Jim Elliot’s age at the point of writing. I was reading a copy published by HarperOne, with ISBN 978-0-06-062213-8.
Note: Upon review, some pages had been folded without clear memory of a distinct passage. In such cases, passages that resound upon second read are recorded. Otherwise, if no distinct passage stand out, the corners are unfolded and restored without record for now.
“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!”
(Straight for the Goal, pp. 50, age 20)
“The pattern of my behavior is not set in the activities of those about me. Don’t follow the example of those you left in the world, nor those you find in church. Rather, the law of God, found in His Word, shall be my standard, and as I see it, there are few examples of this sort living anywhere.”
(Straight for the Goal, pp. 53, age 20)
“Fix your eyes on the rising Morning Star. Don’t be disappointed at anything or over-elated, 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.”
(Straight for the Goal, pp. 53, age 20)
“What I will be doing one year from today is a complete mystery. Perhaps a sick bed or a coffin—glory! Either of these would be fine, but the latter would be immortality, a swallowing up by Life. For this I am most anxious.”
(Wine of Bewilderment, pp. 77, age 21)
“Ah, how many Marahs have been sweetened by a simple, satisfying glance at the Tree and the love which underwent its worst conflict there. Yea, the Cross is the tree that sweetens the waters. ‘Love never faileth….Many waters cannot quench love.'”
(Wine of Bewilderment, pp. 81, age 21)
“Dearest Betty, I charge you in the name of our Unfailing Friend, do away with all waverings, bewilderment, and wonder. You have bargained for a cross. Overcome anything in the confidence of your union with Him, so that contemplating trial, enduring persecution or loneliness, you may know the blessings of the ‘joy set before.’ ‘We are the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His gates with praise.’ And what are sheep doing going into the gate? What is their purpose inside those courts? To bleat melodies and enjoy the company of the flock? No. Those sheep were destined for the altar. Their pasture feeding had been for one purpose, to test them and fatten them for bloody sacrifice. Give Him thanks, then, that you have been counted worthy of His altars. Enter into the work with praise.”
(Sheep—Destined for the Altar, pp. 89, age 21)
“One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime. Nor is surrender to the will of God (per se) adequate to fullness of power in Christ. Maturity is the accomplishment of years, and I can only surrender to the will of God as I know what that will is. Hence, the fullness of the Spirit is not instantaneous but progressive, as I attain the fullness of the Word, which reveals the Will.”
(Goaded by God, pp.91, age 21)
“One of my renaissance experiences was to get among kids who were on a different spiritual level than my own, and enjoy fellowship with them. I found a very subtle snare in so doing. I sought their fellowship in order that I might minister to them, ‘be a help,’ you know, to these ‘weaker’ ones. What a rebuke came when I sensed my real motive—that I might minister. Love hacks right at this, for she refused to parade herself. I learned to recognize no ‘spiritual planes,’ but simply to love, purely, in every group. Trying to ‘be a help’ even has a smell of good works in it, for it is not pure. Our motive is only to be—do nothing, know nothing, act nothing—just to be a sinful bit of flesh, born of a Father’s love. Then you see, Beloved, there can be no defeat.
‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same….’
So whether knowledge tends to swell me up, or the despair of the flesh would make me shrivel up, the love of Christ ‘holds me together.’ Any little occasion then has meaning, if only I can love while it lasts. Keble reminds us of Christ, who with a great task before Him
‘Yet in meek duty to abide
For many a year at Mary’s side,
Nor heed, though restless spirits ask,
“What? Hath the Christ forgot His task?” ‘ “
(The Renaissance, pp. 99-100, age 21)
“I must confess much leanness of my soul today, Oh Patient Shepherd. How often I have been angered at delay, short-spirited, anxious to criticize. I noticed tonight, too, that one does not live to himself in this regard, but that a little leavening of dissatisfied temper will spread through a group and change outlooks. Then too, Meek Savior, I must bring a boisterous tongue, roguish lips to Thee for cleansing. Oh to be holy! Just to sense for a moment that I have somehow, however feebly, simulated some measure of Thy character, Lord Jesus. A word from Horatius Bonar spoke to me tonight: ‘Holiness is not austerity or gloom; these are as alien to it as levity and flippancy; it is the offspring of conscious, present PEACE.'”
(The Test of Free Time, pp. 106, age 21)
“Realized today that I am on a very stiff trial—it is the test of free time. The Lord took away all outward activity. No work, no money to spend, nothing to do. I fear lest I should waste such days. Spent this one in writing, and a little prayer.”
(The Test of Free Time, pp. 107, age 21)
“Very happy in the Lord tonight. Sense that I am being tested in the matter of learning to ‘abound.’ Everything seems directed to my good. I am free now of all work obligations except what minor affairs living at home entails. My health is perfect. The state of the assembly is happy and there is evidence of prosperity in the fellowship, though the miraculous is little known among us. Still, there are many burdens to be lifted if I choose the path of sacrifice here at home. Lord Jesus, Lord of the apostle who knew how to abound and how to be abased, grant to me faithfulness this week. Let me not retrograde.”
(The Test of Free Time, pp. 107-108, age 22)
“I must act in a holy manner, not for reward or appearance, but because of God’s nature. The Law continually reminds me that commandments are to be kept, not for their own sake, but for God’s sake. I will be righteous then, because God’s nature is such. His character determines my conduct. ‘This do…for I am Jehovah.'”
(The Test of Free Time, pp. 113, age 22)
“Criticism of things in general is so distant from Christlikeness.”
(The Test of Service, pp. 116, age 22)
“I have been musing lately on the extremely dangerous cumulative effects of earthly things. One may have good reason, for example, to want a wife, and he may have one legitimately. But with a wife comes Peter The Pumpkin Eater’s proverbial dilemma—he must find a place to keep her. And most wives will not stay on such terms as Peter proposed. So a wife demands a house; a house in which requires curtains, rugs, washing machines, et cetera. A house with these things must soon become a home, and children are the intended outcome. The needs multiply as they are met—a car demands a garage; a garage, land; land, a garden; a garden, tools; and tools need sharpening. Woe, woe, woe to the man who would live a disentangled life in my century. II Timothy 2:4 is impossible in the United States, if one insists on a wife. I learn from this that the wisest life is the simplest one, lived in the fulfilment of only the basic requirement of life—shelter, food, covering, and a bed. And even these can become productive of other needs if one does not heed. Be on my guard, my soul, of complicating your environment so that you have neither time nor room for growth!”
(The Test of Service, pp. 117, age 22)
“I pray for you, that all your misgivings will be melted to thanksgiving. Remember that the shadow a thing casts often far exceeds the size of the thing itself (especially if the light be low on the horizon) and though some future fear may strut brave darkness as you approach, the thing itself will be but a speck when seen from beyond. Oh that He would restore us often with that ‘aspect from beyond,’ to see a thing as He sees it, to remember that He dealeth with us as with sons. Amy Carmichael’s words come to me:
‘He hath never failed thee yet.
Never will His love forget.
O fret not thyself nor let
Thy heart be troubled
Neither let it be afraid.’“
(The Test of Service, pp. 118, age 22)
“Found some difficulty in discerning the Lord’s will, but believe He has guided. It is easy to be swayed by minor (or even major) points when one comes to make decisions if one cannot hark back to principles of guidance. I have learned three principles recently which make a fair beginning at a code:
- Remember always that God has taught you the importance of a building ministry. Staying for some time in one group, stressing certain things consistently, is the best way to accomplish lasting work for God.
- Do not put yourself in a position relative to any man or group which permits them to direct policies which you know must be decided upon through your own individual exercise before God. Never let any organisation dictate the will of God. A move which so ensnares cannot be of God for me.
- Whenever the choice is between the doing of spiritual work, of whatever sort, and a secular job, again of whatever sort, the choice for me must be the former regardless of financial conditions.
(The Test of Service, pp. 126, age 22)
“Last night I took a walk around the hill. Found myself again dedicating my clay, asking for God’s presence to be sensed more continually. Analysed afresh and repudiated my base desire to do something for God in the sight of men, rather than to be something, regardless of whether results were to be seen. The clouds scudding over the west hills seemed to speak to me: ‘What is your life? It is even a vapour.’ I saw myself as a wisp of vapour being drawn upward from the vast ocean by the sun’s great power and sent landward by the winds. The shedding of blessing upon earth must be as the rain, drawn up first by God, borne along by His Spirit, poured out by His own means and in His place, and running down to the sea again. ‘As water poured out.’ So my weakness shall be God’s opportunity to refresh earth. I would that it should be as He has shown.”
“Though these days may be quiet, as far as doing is concerned, they are jammed full of excitement in the inner man. I exult to know the God who maintains the path of the just as a shining light, brighter by the moment toward the Perfect Day.”
(The Test of Service, pp. 127, age 22)