Elisabeth Elliot

Self-Discipline: A Matter of Grit and Grace

Welcome to the first of four LEgacy Link-ups for the summer of 2019! We are so excited! With Mother’s Day coming up, We would like this link-up to be All About Women who have or are Leaving a Legacy for us to follow. I started us out writing about Susie Spurgeon and Susanna Wesley. Now read what guest writer, Michele Morin from Living Our Days wants to share with us. Then write and share your own legacy story at the bottom.

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Self-Discipline: A Matter of Grit and Grace

With an empty house, a clean kitchen, laundry on the line (and even a sleeping dog!), it was a perfect afternoon to study or write. Deadlines were looming; however . . . the sun was shining, bath towels flapped and danced on the clothesline outside, and suddenly, while there was plenty that needed doing, the will to do it was lacking.

“Maybe I’ll call a friend,” I mused. “Or this would be a great day to wash windows!”

An Example to Live by

When I’m pondering the possibility of veering off course in some small way, I remember the faithful example of Elisabeth Elliot, who readily admitted that she was also subject to all the usual distractions and reluctance when it was time to sit down and write. She spoke of “taking herself by the scruff of the neck” and sitting herself down before the task at hand.

SHaping of a Christian Family
TSOACH, Updated in 2005

Raised by attentive parents who set high standards for her behavior, Elisabeth inherited a “habit of order” (TSOACH, 73) and a love for uncluttered efficiency that I have had to live my way into as an adult. Then, in the Ecuadorian jungles, Elisabeth witnessed the patient diligence of tribal people whose very lives depended upon their hard work through mud, thorns, snakes, steep climbing, and deep forests. Measuring her own small inconveniences against the lot of women who regularly carried hundred-pound packs on their backs, she was startled into an awareness of her tendency to complain about small inconveniences.

A Cracked Pot

Elisabeth had no illusions about her own status as a sinner, “a cracked pot” whose supreme privilege it was to reveal in her own life “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) By grace, however, she was able to speak truth with grit, even on topics that are usually off limits. For example, with wry humor, she noted that no one is actually qualified to address self-discipline around eating habits because if you don’t struggle with your weight, you don’t know how hard it is, and if you do struggle, you’ve got no room to talk!

"..if you don’t struggle with your weight, you don’t know how hard it is, and if you do struggle, you’ve got no room to talk!" #Elisabeth Elliot #LegacyLinkUp Click To Tweet

Naturally slender, Elisabeth found to her surprise that as she aged, she could pick up a few extra pounds when she traveled. To avoid gaining weight unawares, she weighed herself daily, reasoning that (1) it’s better to keep weight off than to shed pounds once they have been gained; (2) it’s easier to lose five pounds immediately than fifteen pounds later.

Who Left a Legacy for Elisabeth?

A Lamp For My Feet

Mentored by the writing of Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth endeavored to apply the counsel that shaped Amy’s perspective in doing things that were not to her liking:  “See in it a chance to die.” (ALFMF, 30) The small offerings, tiny deaths to self that we make every day are a way of cooperating with God, and this is a theme that ran through Elisabeth’s writing and speaking ministries—because it also runs through Scripture. She described it as the “interworking of the will of God and the will of man.” (ALFMF, 21) Responding in self-discipline is an opportunity to participate in God’s work here on earth as surely as those who filled the water pots in Cana or distributed the loaves and fish on a grassy Galilean hillside.

So, I’ll do the next thing today, trusting God to put words on the page and grateful for the example of a mentor from afar. Elisabeth Elliot blended grit and grace so consistently that it is impossible to tell—and pointless to wonder—where one ends and the other begins.

-Michele Morin

Works Cited

{affiliate links}

A Lamp for My Feet, 1985 (ALFMF)

The Shaping of a Christian Home, 1992 (TSOACH)
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