Marking 65 Years since the death of Jim Elliot
Today marks 65 years since the death of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian.
These five men were martyred as they sought to take the Gospel and gifts to a remote people (Waodani/Auca) in Ecuador. Speared to death while trying to do good.
You all know I’m a huge fan of Elisabeth Elliot. (Hope’s middle name is after her.) If you’ve never read Devotedly, I’ve reviewed it here for you. And did you know you can still listen to Elisabeth’s teachings via Blue Letter Bible? If you have to choose just one in their list to listen to, make it I Choose A Quiet Heart.
It’s easy to idealize a missionary (or any spiritual leader) and imagine they don’t struggle or that they’ve got it all together.
(We talked about not underestimating the nature of the flesh last week on the blog after the news of the fallen pastors. If they can fall, so can we.)
Nine days before he was killed, Jim Elliot wrote this in his journal.
“Dec. 31,1955. A month of temptation.Satan and the flesh have been on me hard…How God holds my soul in His life and permits one with such wretchedness to continue in His service I cannot tell.Oh, it has been hard… Betty thinks I have been angry with her.. My unworthiness of her love beats me down. I have been very low inside me struggling and casting myself hourly on Christ for help. Marriage is divorce from the privacy a man loves, but there is some privacy nothing can share. It is the knowledge of a sinful heart. Let spirit conquer though the flesh conspire.”
And Roger Youdarian wrote this journal entry shortly before joining the mission to the Aucas:
” I wouldn’t support a missionary such as I know myself to be, and I’m not going to ask anyone else to. Three years is long enough to learn a lesson and learn it well.The failure is mine. This is my personal ‘Waterloo’ as a missionary.”
Why do I share this? Certainly not to demean these men. I’m profoundly thankful for their testimony, but I think it’s encouraging to know that they had feet of clay but still stayed the course. They were human like us, in a common struggle, but they recognized and called out failure.
They judged themselves and didn’t side with the flesh. And that’s half the battle.
Maybe you are tired today, weary from the fight?
Don’t let the fact that your flesh is real discourage you. Call it out. Side with God about its tendencies and identify as a child of God who will not yield its members instruments to sin.
If you recognize the war, the Spirit is at work in you, helping and empowering you. That’s encouraging.
Don’t quench it. When the Spirit prompts you, do it and walk in His ways.
PS. HAVE YOU READ THROUGH GATES OF SPLENDOR? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE JIM AND ELISABETH BOOK?