The Two Different Biographies

January 2024 is a blur; but what I read — two biographies of Elisabeth Elliot left several clear impressions of how she finished her race, and still is a good coach for finishing ours. 

Ellen Vaughn wrote a two volume “authorized edition: Becoming Elisabeth Elliot, and Being Elisabeth Elliot.  Lucy S.R. Austen wrote Elisabeth Elliot: A Life. 

 I read both because Elisabeth was a woman whose calm daily radio  observation helped when we were raising kids and caring for parents.

 You are loved with an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms —

Both biographies have been like breathing lessons during crazy times of wars, natural disasters, the church sometimes stumbling — and myself, aging. All excuses not to do the next thing. 

But the authors described how Elisabeth got done what needed to be done on good days  and the not so good ones. Those biographies show me maybe I can, too:

Do it immediately;

Do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly,

casting all care;

Do it with reverence,

Tracing His Hand,

Who placed it before thee with

Earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence,

Safe ‘neath His wing,

Leave all resultings,


~Old Saxon poem

Such simple commands

—but simple never has meant easy. 

two biographies

Elisabeth Elliott was never a drain.

The Same Woman

Both her biographers in their separate portraits of the same woman, explain how she came to speak so forthrightly. 

Their accounts complement  the lessons they drew from Elisabeth’s triumphs and trials.  Their descriptions of Elisabeth Elliot’s  writing life, her marriages, mothering, missteps, and friendships were three dimensional; they were refreshing and sobering.

Lucy Austen wrote,  

We can’t paint Elisabeth’s story with lovely pastels and blurred edges, pretty and placid. It is though the sharp edges and cracks in the veneer that God’s grace, no matter what, shines through ( A Life. p. 443)

Ellen Vaughn, said of Elisabeth:

 “[S]he was a woman who lived imperfectly, yes as we all do, loved God, and sought to serve Him with everything she had.”

Here’s where Elisabeth’s accounts of her own valleys and peaks have been  useful balms and goads:  

I have sent my life plumbing the depths of what it means to be a Christian. I am as of this morning still learning . . . We are meant to be chalices life bearers. As God’s expression of what He is like, we become broken bread and poured out wine. There is no greater fullness.(Elisabeth Elliot: A Life by  Lucy S.R. Austen, page 781)

I gotta be honest —my “chalice” often feels like a used mason jar.  So reading  two biographies of the same woman reminded me the of  deep replenishing value of reading and writing.

two women

And some criticized Elisabeth to the breath and depth of her reading . . . even questioning her salvation.*

Elisabeth, who herself wrote biographies, urged:

Read Christian biographies so you can see the hand of God in all the ups and downs, the sorrows and joys, the perplexities and dangers, the disaster of one individual life. It will help you trust Him. (A Life, p  407)

Elisabeth believed God, READ HIS WORD, trusted His word, and obeyed . . . AND she read widely. We are never too old to read, especially a wee bit outside our comfort zones.

Coming into a New Month:

I would add: pay attention to and cherish the folks the Lord places about you. Learn to pray for them, and with them if you can. That’s been changing the landscape in my autumn’s garden. And so does the CBS Sunday Morning Show! 

Man is mortal, this is true.
And that applies to women, too.

To each of us, to those we love,
and to our dearest friends,
at some point human life begins
and at some point it ends.

We don’t know when. Life is dispensed
in differing amounts.
But it is not how LONG we lived —
it’s HOW we’ve lived that counts.

Death, like life, is natural,
and not to be afraid of.
If you love life, guard well your time —
for time’s the stuff life’s made of. ~ Charles Osgood

Who being loved is poor? Oscar Wilde


*From Garden of Bright Images (Facebook)

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