Monday, February 11, 2013

on the shelf: passion and purity

I have always admired and respected Jim and Elisabeth Elliot for their total obedience to God, and for the sacrifices they made for the sake of the kingdom. I read many different biographies of Jim when I was in middle school, and when I was a junior I read Through Gates of Splendor, and Mama read aloud Shadow of the Almighty. The latter is easily my favorite Christian biography, and I cannot recommend it enough. Actually, I've given it as a gift to several friends. If you haven't read it yet, go get your hands on a copy - it's worth it.

Anyway. That's another post for another day.

Back in the fall, my dear "Mom W" asked if she could give me Passion and Purity for my birthday. I'd never read it before, and as I'm always hungry for new material, I said yes! But due to conflicts with scheduling and holiday busy-ness, we didn't get around to giving each other our birthday gifts (her birthday is a month after mine) until about two weeks ago.

I read Passion and Purity cover to cover in one day. And then I went back through with a pencil, and then again…and honestly, I think it will be a while before I'll uncover all the nuggets of wisdom to be found in its pages. I'll probably be re-reading it every now and then for a good long time.

via pinterest
First of all, this is a book about waiting. I've read many wonderful encouraging books about being content while single, waiting patiently for God to bring the right man, etc…but none of those books were about waiting once you've already *found* the right person. I was inspired, challenged, and deeply moved by the waiting aspect of the Elliots relationship - in love for *five* years before getting the "green light", as it were, from God to get married. And most of those years were spent apart. Rather far apart sometimes. And that's hard. Really hard.
"I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts. Its easy to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence – easier sometimes than to wait patiently." ~ Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity
It's a book about staying physically pure - a point almost entirely lost in our current society. It was incredibly refreshing to read a book so clear on the importance of saving yourself for your spouse, while being honest about the difficulties. This is important stuff to being thinking and praying about - more and more the older and more mature you get.

Most importantly, it's a book about Jesus. The Elliots were not capable of doing what they did alone. But they had Jesus. He, the Lord of Creation, wrote their beautiful love story with His own hand, and you can see that as clearly as the letters Jim and Elisabeth wrote back and forth, and as clearly as their living testimony was played out. Both of them were committed to following God's will for them - even if it meant lots of hard decisions, and seemingly unbearable circumstances. But He led them through, and now their story is an encouraging and challenging testimony of faith for our generation.
"But the question to precede all others, which finally determines the course of our lives is What do I really want? Was it to love what God commands, in the words of the collect, and to desire what He promises? Did I want what I wanted, or did I want what He wanted, no matter what it might cost?" ~ Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity
Mom W wrote in the front of my book that she prayed that my own love story will be just as beautiful. That is my prayer too. I'm just as romantic as the next person, with lots of hopes and dreams for my own home and life with my own family. But I can't make it happen, and if I tried to, it wouldn't be right.

But this is do know: if I leave it in the hands of our all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God, it will be beautiful. 

Read this book with an open mind. Be challenged. Be encouraged. Be inspired. And the cliche phrase "God's writing my love story" takes on a whole new meaning.

giving this 5 out of 5 stars.

Note to the mamas: I highly recommend this book without reservation, but there is material that may be better suited to girls who have reached the age where physical purity is something you've already talked about with them, and they are familiar with the concept. It could be confusing, or unhelpful for younger girls. I would say almost fifteen and up would be best. But it's up to you. :) ~ L.M.

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