Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God — Jim Elliot
The life and death of Jim Elliot was a testimony of a man committed to the will of God. He sought God’s will, pleaded for it, waited for it, and—most importantly—obeyed it.
His martyrdom at age twenty-eight and subsequent books on his life by his former wife, Elisabeth Elliot, have been the catalyst for sending thousands into the mission fields and stoking the fires of a heart for God. He was an intense Christian, bent on pleasing God alone and not man.
[He makes] His ministers a flame of fire," Elliot wrote while a student at Wheaton College. "Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be aflame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this my soul—short life? In me there dwells the spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him.
Elliot was a gifted writer, speaker, and teacher. He had a commanding presence while a student at Wheaton, even starring on the wrestling mat where he became a champion.
Many of his friends were convinced Elliot’s spiritual giftedness should be concentrated on building up the church in America.
Elliot, however, wanted God’s will, not man’s. After many protracted and solitary prayer sessions, Elliot sensed God’s call to a foreign field, specifically South America. "Why should some hear twice," he said, "when others have not heard [the gospel] once?"
Correspondence with a former missionary to Ecuador and hearing of a tribe—the Aucas—that was never reached with the news of Christ’s redemption set his course.
In the winter of 1952, Elliot and a friend who shared his vision set sail on a freighter, the Santa Juana, for the jungles of South America.
Focused On Obedience
Elliot’s focus on obedience to God’s will led to a disciplined and slightly unorthodox courtship of Betty Howard, whom he met at Wheaton. They longed to be husband and wife, but Elliot would not agree to the marriage yoke until he was certain of God’s plan.
Elisabeth and Jim both were called to Ecuador as missionaries. Almost one year after arriving, they were finally engaged. On October 8, 1953, they were married in a civil ceremony in Quito, Ecuador.
After their wedding, Elliot continued his work among the Quichua Indians and formulated plans to reach the Aucas.
In the Autumn of 1955, missionary pilot Nate Saint spotted an Auca village. During the ensuing months, Elliot and several fellow missionaries dropped gifts from a plane, attempting to befriend the hostile tribe.
In January of 1956, Elliot and four companions landed on a beach of the Curaray River in eastern Ecuador. They had several friendly contacts with the fierce tribe that had previously killed several Shell Oil company employees.
Two days later, on January 8, 1956, all five men were speared and hacked to death by warriors from the Auca tribe. Life magazine featured a ten-page article on their mission and death.
"They learned about the Aucas as they and their wives were ministering to the Quichua-speaking and Jivaro Indians. The Aucas had killed all strangers for centuries.
Other Indians fear them but the missionaries were determined to reach them. Said Elliot: ‘Our orders are: the Gospel to every creature.’
The Good Will Of God
Elliot wanted God’s will. It ended in his death, but it was a death whose seed still brings forth fruit for the gospel’s sake.
Many Aucas eventually came to accept Christ as Savior when Elisabeth Elliot bravely returned to share Christ with those who killed her husband. Her books, Shadow of the Almighty and Through Gates of Splendor, speak passionately of the power, majesty, and sovereignty of God while chronicling the life of her husband.
You may or may not be called to the mission field, but each Christian is called to the delightful adventure of knowing and doing the will of God. This is the thrill of the Christian life – to experience God at the center of all you do, think, and say.
Are you seeking God’s will for your life? It is the root of all blessings – for your family, your finances, your work, your relationships, your service, your life. God’s will is His best.
The process is not always easy, but God is willing to reveal His plan to those men and women who desire Him above all else and delight in Him. It means setting aside your agenda and asking God to "will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
There is usually a season of sifting, of waiting on God for His timing. The Elliots waited five years before sensing God’s time was ripe for a marital union.
Draw near to God. Confess and repent of sin. Put your heart and spirit in neutral, telling God you wish only to be an instrument in His hands. Wait for His response through circumstance, His Word, or the counsel of other mature believers. He will show you what He wants you to do because He loves you.
You can live "to the hilt" as you seek and obey the good and acceptable will of God.
Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian, were killed along with Jim Elliot in 1956 while serving the Lord in the jungles of Ecuador.