“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1
I’m not the kind of person who learns well through verbal directions alone. If I’m going somewhere for the first time, I need a map, preferably handdrawn and labeled with highly visible landmarks. If I’m attempting to put something together for the first time, I’ll definitely require some illustrated instructions or better yet, a video, showing me step-by-step how to connect Part A to Part B and so on. Show me a model of what the finished product should look like, and I’m far more likely to complete my project with some measure of success.
Similarly, in my spiritual walk, I’ve found that having godly role models to look up to is a tremendous benefit. When I see a woman living out Christlike character qualities, I am encouraged, inspired, and motivated to pursue the same goal. Much like following illustrated instructions or a step-by-step video, observing the example of a godly woman helps to keep me on track as I live out my daily walk with Christ.
Elisabeth Elliot is one such role model. If you’d like to see a picture of what a godly woman should look like, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example than she. Are you single? Elisabeth spent several decades of her life unmarried. Are you married? She’s also thoroughly acquainted with life as a married woman, having been married three times. Are you widowed? Elisabeth can relate closely to your experiences as well. She lost her first husband before her 30th birthday, and her second husband to a battle with cancer.
Elisabeth has been a scholar, translator, missionary, mother, grandmother, radio host, teacher, author, and speaker. And throughout her life, whether in joy or in sorrow, she has continually modeled Christlike beauty. Surely we would do well as Christian women to pay attention to the illustrated instructions for godly womanhood which she has provided through her life’s testimony. Back in 1976, Elisabeth penned an eloquent and profound little book on biblical femininity as a gift to her daughter, Valerie, in preparation for her upcoming marriage. Entitled Let Me Be a Woman, this nearly 35 year-old volume still offers us a wealth of wisdom today. Here are some encouraging and challenging thoughts from Elisabeth on recognizing God’s wisdom and sovereignty in the various stages of our lives:
What we are is a gift, and, like other gifts, chosen by the Giver alone. We are not presented with an array of options…
…[H]aving now spent more than forty-one years single, I have learned that it is indeed a gift. Not one I would choose. Not one many women would choose. But we do not choose gifts, remember? We are given them by a divine Giver who knows the end from the beginning, and wants above all else to give us the gift of Himself. It is within the sphere of the circumstances He chooses for us–single, married, widowed–that we receive Him. It is there and nowhere else that He makes Himself known to us. It is there we are allowed to serve Him…
Single life may be only a stage of a life’s journey, but even a stage is a gift. God may replace it with another gift, but the receiver accepts His gifts with thanksgiving. This gift for this day. The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived–not always looked forward to as though the “real” living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow. (pp. 24-25, 31)
Here’s a video clip of Elisabeth Elliot teaching on the topic of servanthood in 2007. At over 80 years of age, she provides a clear picture of the unfading strength and beauty possessed by a woman devoted fully to her Savior.