Every Life Experience Can Be a Gateway to Joy

Elisabeth Howard Elliot
Elisabeth Howard Elliot (Wikimedia Commons)

I am quick to admit that my life is not a reflection of anything that I have accomplished or achieved due to my own strength or wisdom. My life is a reflection of the lives of others who have impacted me by the way they have tenaciously served Christ.

I have been changed by the life of a woman by the name of Elisabeth Howard Elliot.  Perhaps you have heard of her.

This extraordinary woman was born in 1926 in Belgium to missionary parents.

She attended Wheaton College and met a young man there whose passion for missions was commensurate with hers. They were married in Ecuador in 1953 and served God among the Quichua Indians.

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Elisabeth was only 30 years old when her husband, Jim Elliot, was murdered by the Auca Indians. The Auca Indians were a fierce tribe who had never been reached with the message of the gospel. 

Elisabeth embraced the call of her slain husband with consummate courage and relentless faith. She remained in Ecuador with their baby girl and continued to minister to this Indian tribe.

Elisabeth's best-selling book, "Through Gates of Splendor," told the triumphant life story of her husband and of their missionary work together. 

Elisabeth was a prolific writer and speaker. Her books made a profound impact on my life as a college student and young mother. 

But it was Elisabeth's radio program that gave me the grace to become the woman that I am today. The name of her daily radio program was "Gateway to Joy." Elisabeth believed that every life experience has the potential of bringing joy to one's life. What a powerful philosophy of a woman who endured the tragic circumstances of life that Elisabeth had faced!

Every life experience has the potential of bringing joy to your life!

When I was the homeschool mother of five curious, creative and lively children, I would send them outside to play every weekday morning at 10:25 sharp so that I could sit in my car and listen to her radio show that began at 10:30.

"You are loved with an everlasting love. That's what the Bible says. And underneath are the everlasting arms.  This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot."

It was 30 minutes of life coaching ... of personal counseling ... and of life-changing teaching for this young, overworked and frazzled mother.

"Gateway to Joy" became my place of strength in the busy, never-ending, sloppy life in which I lived. Her voice became my compass for mothering, for marriage and for ministry.

Elisabeth Howard Elliot Leitch Gren walked through those gates of heaven's splendor on June 15, 2015. The wisdom that she imparted and the strength of character that she modeled have left significant ripples on the ocean of history.

I wonder who greeted Elisabeth as she walked through the gates of splendor?

I wonder if a tribe of formerly fierce but now faith-filled Indians were cheering wildly for her as she passed from this world to the next?

I wonder if Jim Elliot, who had been speared to death for the sake of the gospel, stood beside the One with nail-pierced hands as they looked with love upon the entrance of Elisabeth.

Elisabeth is one of the women who demonstrated to me that women are called to significant ministry and that the lives of women, just like men, can count for the cause of eternity.

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, will be released on Aug. 1. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. 

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