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Being God's Women

Lisa Barry: Welcome to this historic, final week of Gateway To Joy with Elisabeth Elliot. Our goal is to highlight the legacy of faith that Elisabeth has left for this generation and the impact it will have for generations that follow. To help us do that, we've invited Bob Lepine, who you may recognize from Family Life Radio, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who will be the featured speaker on the new program, Revive Our Hearts.

You know, if we could picture the whole of Elisabeth Elliot's ministry as a tapestry, what we'd like to do today is flip that piece of fabric over, and look at the many threads and ties that have defined this legacy. So join me as we sit in on this inspiring and reflective conversation, right here on Gateway To Joy. Here's Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Elliot: "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, talking today with my friend, Bob Lepine.

Bob Lepine: And it's great to be here and to have the opportunity not only to talk with you, but also in the studio with us, is Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Hello Nancy!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Hi Bob, and Elisabeth, good to be with both of you.

Bob Lepine: Well, I want to zero in today on what I think is a theme that, well Elisabeth, for more than the twelve years that this program has been on the air, really for the last thirty or forty years, you have been calling women to a picture of womanhood that is, that is foreign in our culture.

Let me tell you a little story. It was a few years back that I was taking my oldest daughter Amy, around to look at colleges. And we would sit down with the admissions officer at these colleges and after we'd had the campus tour, the admissions officer would look at my daughter and say, "What do you want to study?"

And she would say, "I'm not sure, I'm thinking either English literature, or philosophy."

And the next question, inevitably, invariably, in every situation was, "What do you hope to do with that? What career do you plan to go into?"

And about the third for fourth time we got asked that question, I looked at Amy and said, "Wouldn't you like to say, 'I'm really here just to learn, you still do that, don't you? I mean I can still come just to learn?'"

And yet the focus for, I think for all of our young women today, the culture almost assumes that you're going to find your identity in the marketplace. The Scriptures don't talk a lot about what your vocation is going to be in the marketplace as a woman. It doesn't exclude that as an option for women, and yet it doesn't say, "Find your identity there." What is God's unique call for women? To be women, do you think?

Elisabeth Elliot: I think the Scripture is very clear that generally speaking, women are meant to be wives and mothers. They are meant to raise children for the glory of God. And I'm very thankful that I came from a home in which that was what my mother aimed at and never wanted anything else. Things have changed rather dramatically within the last twenty years, so that women are being pressured more and more to do something really useful, rather than just sit around, and iron, and cook and things like that.

I think there's a certain amount of change now. Women have had enough of that nonsense and they swallowed it whole pretty much, back in the late sixties and early seventies. And it sounded so liberating and so wonderful. And we had people like Gloria Steinham getting out there and screaming and yelling at women and telling them, "You know, you don't have to listen to these characters called men."

But I'm very thankful for the fact that I receive very many letters nowadays from women who are very contented with what God has given them in being homemakers. Generally speaking, women are meant to be homemakers.

I also applaud the single women! And I feel sorry that there are so many single women who really should be married, but the men are scared. The men are not even paying any attention whether they themselves ought to be looking for a godly woman, so that they could have a family of their own. I thank God for the many great Christian single women that we know who are, most of them I would say, are missionaries.

But I never had any ambition except to be a missionary. I certainly was not thinking of being a broadcaster or anything like that. And I wasn't thinking of writing any books! I just was expecting that the Lord would give me the privilege of doing what missionaries have always done and that's "going into all the world to preach the gospel."

And it wasn't until my second, third year in college that I realized that God had given me a gift in linguistics. So then I began specifically to aim toward getting linguistic training, so that I could work with unwritten tribes.

Bob Lepine: Nancy, I was thinking about the fact that young girls growing up today, my daughter was born in 1981, all she's ever known is a culture that says, "You should find your self-worth and your satisfaction outside the home." That's been the dominant message and for her to hear anything else, sounds completely counter-cultural.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I do think the revolution has been very pervasive. In fact, last week I was looking at an old issue of "Time" magazine, not that old, but 1990. "Time" magazine did a full issue just on the subject of women. And I looked through the pages of that issue and there were all kinds of profiles and stories about women who had attained success in various fields, and lots of articles about different issues that women deal with, equality in the workplace, etc.

And what was striking to me about the issue, was the almost total absence, a conspicuous absence, of any reference to home. And where there was reference to marriage or to family, it tended to be more things like "stay-at-home dads," "lesbian marriage relationships" and these things that are counter to the ways of God as He's established it.

And I realize that women, not just in their twenties, but really forty or younger today, have not known anything other than to think this very different way. Which was brought into our culture with great intent and foresight and thought. Trying to stir up discontent among women who didn't know that they were unhappy, being keepers at home, loving and serving their husbands and their children.

And the tragic thing is, and I think God has so used Elisabeth in her writings and ministry to point this out, is that far from gaining the hoped-for sense of self-worth and liberation, we've really had something very precious stolen from us.

Think of Elisabeth's book years ago, Let Me Be A Woman, and that has been such a wonderful watch cry I think, for women who are now growing up and want just the privilege of being a woman. Not to have to be something that God didn't make them to be.

So God really has used Elisabeth as an older woman to minister to those of us in the next generation--who are now ministering to the next generation and saying, "It's okay, and it's not only okay, it's precious, it's beautiful, it's wonderful to embrace your womanhood and your call to the home!"

Bob Lepine: I have to tell you, I spent a little time recently as a homemaker. My wife had the opportunity to go with her mother on an extended trip, and I said, "I'd love for you to do that, Honey! I'll stay home with the children."

Well I can understand now, after I had twelve days of being a homemaker, I can understand where somebody could come along at the end of the twelve days and say, "Find fulfillment somewhere else." Because as you said, Elisabeth, the chores, the tedium of ironing and washing clothes, it doesn't take long before you go, "Is this all there is to life?"

Elisabeth Elliot: Well I'm a real freak because I love ironing and washing clothes and washing dishes by hand. We have a dishwasher of course, but there are only two of us right now, and it seems to me to be kind of ridiculous to put a few dishes into the washing machine. So to me, it's a great respite to be able to leave my computer and my typewriter and just go downstairs. I always look forward to breakfast, lunch and supper because it's so easy. You know it's very easy to do.

And since Nancy was talking about what was happening in the last two decades at least, I was remembering when Jane Pauley left the radio. She was sort of in the vanguard of a whole exodus of women who had just decided they'd been given a package of goods that was just bologna, and they began making a real exodus back to the home, and having children.

And I just thought, This is a very encouraging sign. I don't know how much longer it may go on. Maybe there'll be another flip. But God knew exactly what He was doing when He made women, women; and men, men. And we should be so grateful.

You know I'm so grateful to have a husband who is a man, who's a real man. But he's also a kind man, and a godly man. And God has given me such tremendous privileges that, well as my dear, old friend Dorothy used to say, "I just have so many blessings, I don't know how to thank the Lord for them."

I really do believe that every experience, if offered to Jesus, is our "gateway to joy." And the experience may be taking care of a sick grandfather, or taking care of a child who is perhaps going to be lame for life, or washing the dishes. And of course every now and then, the dishwasher or the stove, or something else goes on the blink, and you just want to throw your hands up and think, How did I ever get into this mess?

But there's something about laundry and godliness. The willingness to do the humble, ordinary thing, which needs to be done. Why shouldn't it be done by me? And the older I get, the more I appreciate the privilege of having laundry to do, dishes to wash, houses to clean. If we could only realize all of these things, which are incumbent upon us and required, when they're offered to Jesus, they really are transformed, there's something totally transforming about it.

And when you think of that little Mary, and I always think of her as being somewhere between twelve and fourteen years old, she didn't have any quibble, she said, "Behold I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it happen as You say, or be it unto me according to thy word"(Luke 1:38). In modern English, "Anything you say Lord, here I am, do anything You want with me."

Lisa Barry: And that kind of attitude has been abundantly clear throughout Elisabeth's life as well. She has always been willing to be God's mouthpiece, challenging women to examine their roles and responsibilities in light of God's Word. And we are all the recipients of the blessing that her obedience has wrought. In these final days of Gateway To Joy, I'm guessing there are some of you listening who may not know the story of where Elisabeth's ministry began.

She was thrust into the spotlight back in the mid-fifties, when her husband, along with four other missionaries, was murdered in the jungles of Ecuador. After that tragedy, she returned to the same jungle to carry on the ministry. You can read all about it in the book called, The Savage, My Kinsman. We're making it available for a suggested donation of $11 when you get in touch with us to request it.

Our toll-free number is 1-800-759-4JOY. You can also get a copy of this historic week of talks called, "A Legacy of Faith." Ask about it when you call 1-800-759-4569. Our mailing address is: Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, NE, 68501. That's Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, NE, 86501.

You can also find us on the Internet at gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway To Joy is a listener-supported production of Back to the Bible.

Well, there's much more to come tomorrow, so make sure to join Elisabeth, Bob Lepine and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, for another round-table discussion. That's right here on Gateway To Joy.

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