When Margie and I are asked to name the people whose writing and speaking have most influenced us, the name of Elisabeth Elliot always appears in our list. Over the years we’ve read her books, listened to her tapes, and enjoyed her newsletter. The thing we have most appreciated about her ministry has been her single-minded focus. Though she addresses a wide variety of topics as she writes and speaks, it often seems to be focused around one primary biblical theme: contented obedience to Christ as Lord, even at cost. Not a popular topic, of course, but Mrs. Elliot addresses it with a creativity and depth of insight which comes from a mind steeped in God’s Word and a life which has been tested by sacrifice.
The 100+ brief pieces in Keep a Quiet Heart, most only a page or two in length, appeared originally in her newsletter. Here’s one piece (out of many) I especially liked:
Several Ways to Make Yourself Miserable
Count your troubles, name them one by one—at the breakfast table, if anybody will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.
Worry every day about something. Don’t let yourself get out of practice. It won’t add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.
Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.
Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon After all, a man’s gotta live.
Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they’re going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do it.
Stay away from absolutes. It’s what’s right for you that matters. Be your own person and don’t allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.
Make sure you get your rights. Never mind other people’s. You have your life to live, they have theirs.
Don’t fall into any compassion traps—the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people’s troubles, you may neglect your own.
Don’t let Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what’s really relevant— things like TV and newspapers. Invisible thing are eternal. You want to stick with the visible ones—they’re where it’s at now.
Ideal as devotional readings or in those moments when you need to be still before the Lord, we recommend Keep a Quiet Heart to you.
The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter is published six times each year.
Each chapter in Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity, and there are 34 of them, tells the story of people who found themselves struggling in the universal search for love. Following each story, Mrs Elliot writes a brief reflection, sometimes consisting of a series of questions to help the reader think about the story they have just read. The stories are compelling and real—and they tend to reveal as rather shortsighted much of what passes for fashionable dating etiquette. No formula is given here, for none is possible. If there is one theme that echoes throughout the book, however, it is this: Our heavenly Father is faithful and can be trusted, even in the quest for love. In fact, he is so good, so trustworthy, all alternatives are foolish at best and dangerous at worst.
SourceKeep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications; 1995) 269 pp.
Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, a division of Baker Book House; 1996) 271 pp