“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
A Snapshot of the Life of Jim Elliot:
Born: Oct. 8, 1927, in Portland, Oregon
Died: Jan. 8, 1956, in Curaray Beach, Ecuador
One of the five Auca Indian martyrs. Raised in a Plymouth Brethren home, he was saved at age six. Elliot was at Wheaton (IL) College 1945-49, and began a courtship with Betty Howard in 1946. In 1947, he spent the summer in Mexico where his Auca interest began. In 1952, Elliot went to Ecuador with Pete Fleming, building Shandia Mission Station in the jungle and working in it, 1952-53, when a flood destroyed it. Elliot married Betty on October 8, 1953, and from 1953-55, they worked among the Quichua Indians. Along with his colleagues; Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Pete Fleming, Elliot strove to make contact with the mysterious Auca Indian tribe. They were speared to death just two days after an exciting face-to-face contact with the Aucas. Elliot’s story and that of his colleagues was written by his wife, Elisabeth (Betty), in Through Gates of Splendor and Shadow of the Almighty. His favorite verse was Isaiah 42:16. “… He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose…” – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)
A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:
Few lives prod and awaken more people than Jim Elliot’s. An examination of this remarkable life will be nothing but profitable and stirring to the examiner. The words and testimony of this young martyr inspire the heart of all who seek to obey God and live a fully surrendered life. The journal entries of Jim Elliot are some of the most heart-searching and candid insights into the mind and heart of a man God used. There was nothing special about the way God made Jim Elliot. He is not merely remembered for his great preaching, charm, skilled work ethic, or his passionate missionary heart. The greatest qualities Jim possessed streamed out of a single, overwhelming purpose…nothing less than complete surrender to the will of the Master.
Alluding to Proverbs 16:9, Elliot wrote, “A man’s heart deviseth his ways but the Lord directeth his steps; my heart has devised to serve Him, I must leave the next steps to him.” While by no means perfect, Jim Elliot sought fervently to do exactly what the Master bid. When Jim announced he was going to work in Ecuador, he was met with a frustrating level of skepticism and even resentment. Many believed his talent would be far better spent in the United States than in the jungles of South America. However, these believers failed to see that Jim had already left “the choice to Him“, and would soon be receiving God’s best.
“Walk as if the next step will carry you across the threshold of heaven.”
Jim’s words characterize both his life and death. We must not forget Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, or Ed McCully. These fiery young men stepped across the threshold of heaven as they sought to reach into the hearts of the Auca (now Waodani) tribe. They willingly laid down their very lives for the chance to bring the Way of eternal life to others. Although many considered such a sacrifice to be wasteful, the Heavenly Father smelled a sweet savor that day. God’s glorious power shined through! Many thousands surrendered to a life of service for the Master because of their story. Many chose to offer their lives to God since these men so willingly laid down their lives. Extraordinarily, God used Jim’s own wife and Nate’s sister to reach that same tribe with the gospel.
Let us examine our own lives today. Is there an area of life that you will not allow God to have? God wants to use you! But you must yield to him completely. Study the life of Jim Elliot, his friends, and his family. You will be astounded at how wonderfully God worked. But first, surrender. Make Jim’s prayer your prayer today:
“God, I pray, light these idle sticks of my life, and may I burn up for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like Yours, Lord Jesus.”
A Suggestion for Further Reading…
Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot; 1981, Tyndale (Orginal publication, 1957)
The Journals of Jim Elliot, Jim Elliot, edited by Elisabeth Elliot; 2020, Revell – (I cannot encourage you strongly enough to purchase a copy of Jim’s writings)
Devotedly: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot,
Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose, Janet & Geoff Benge; 1999, YWAM
End of the Spear, Steve Saint; 2007, Tyndale – (this is written by Steve Saint, the son of Jim’s fellow missionary/martyr Nate Saint)