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September 17, 2011

why i write

Blame Elisabeth Elliot. Or Amy Carmichael. These ladies are two of the reasons why I returned to putting some of my writing online, on this blog, at the end of 2009.

Elisabeth Elliot is to me a greater "celebrity" than anyone Hollywood could ever endorse. In the summer of 2010 I met a gentleman who knew Elisabeth personally. My acquaintance's brother had been martyred decades ago along with Elisabeth's husband Jim Elliot, so their connection went way back. I enjoyed hearing an insider's view on this lady of determination and vision. What struck me, though, was when he told me that Elisabeth now suffers from dementia. "Her ministry is very limited."

Limited? It seemed strange to me, because a very articulate Elisabeth had been knocking me over the head with truth all week! I was in the middle of her book, Passion and Purity, and Elisabeth was challenging me with principles that seemed very counter-cultural, but very Scriptural. It was almost like I was talking with her: "But what about this scenario, Elisabeth? Isn't that OK?" And with the gumption of a woman who could supernaturally love her husband's murderers, she gave me firm, strong "no". As she and I "talked", I would never have known Elisabeth was ill. In her books, her message is as alive as ever. Elisabeth Elliot has discipled me through her writings.

If you have read much of my blog, you probably know that I also admire Amy Carmichael. Amy Carmichael and I are not contemporaries. She died in 1951 and lived on continents I have never visited (yet!). When I read Elisabeth Elliot's account of Amy's life, A Chance to Die, my life was powerfully impacted. But how do we know so much about the life and ministry of a woman who ministered in a land so far from me or Elisabeth? You already know. Because she wrote. And wrote. Letters, poems, books. While many others may have ministered in hard places at the same time, none other has gone on a road trip with me or helped me question how I live life. Amy has challenged me to the core. She has done this through writing.

In this era of information-overload and 140-character tweets, where even the family pet has a blog or a Facebook profile, why write? Isn't everyone else already doing it? Don't so many people do it better? This is why I write: because through writing, the lessons God teaches me can live on, even when my dust returns to dust. I will never be as widely-read as these ladies. But if something inside of me must write, perhaps it is because God knows that someone, someday, must read. 

Image: A scrap from Jim Elliot's journal. (Click to see source).

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