Elisabeth Elliot: "The Lord God will help me. Therefore, shall I not be confounded. Therefore, have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed."
Lisa Barry: That was a verse from Isaiah that was quoted by Dr. Virginia Blakesley. It later became the life verse of Elisabeth Elliot. We're about to find out why today on Gateway To Joy. I hope that while you listen today, you'll be challenged to make a habit out of reading the biographies of godly women. There's a whole new world of encouragement just waiting to be tapped into out there that few of us have ever entered. Elisabeth has a list of her top picks, and I'll tell you how to get one at the end of the program today. But for now, sit back, relax and get ready to hear about the amazing story of Dr. Virginia Blakesley. 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 again today about women who have deeply influenced my life.
I told you about my mother to begin with, certainly the one who had the deepest, most long-lasting influence in my life. Then there was Betty Scott Stam, whom I think I met when I was just a small child. But I never forgot the shocking piece of news in 1934 when she and her husband were killed in China when they were missionaries.
Today I want to tell you about another very brave missionary woman. Her name was Dr. Virginia Blakesley. She worked in Africa. When I was maybe 12 or 14 years old, I don't remember exactly, she spoke in Keswick, New Jersey, a Bible conference there called Keswick Conference. I happened to be in that audience.
I was absolutely riveted by her hair-raising stories of experiences that she had had in Africa. If my memory serves me rightly, I think she was with at least one cannibalistic tribe. I remember her telling the hair-raising story of how, in the middle of the night, she was alone in her little hut somewhere in the jungles of Africa. She heard the war cry. She got up and saw flares, burning flares, coming through the jungle and the blood-curdling screams of these supposedly cannibalistic men, who came rushing out of the jungle and surrounded her little house.
There was absolutely nothing of course that she could do to protect herself. She was alone. But she knelt and said, "Lord, I'm in Your hands. Please take care of me." After they had run round and round her house, screaming and shouting, suddenly, for no apparent reason, they faded off into the jungle again. This happened two or three nights in succession.
One day, after it had happened the previous night, the leader-I suppose the chief of this group-came in broad daylight and said to Dr. Blakesley, "I want to see your watchmen." She said, "I have no watchmen." He said, "You're lying to me." She said, "There is no one here, except me." He demanded to be shown into her house.
She let him come into the little hut. He looked all over. He could find no one. She said, "What do you mean-my watchmen? Why do you think I have one?" He said, "Because we saw them. Not just one, but many, with flaming swords, wearing white robes." What do you think those watchmen must have been? He said, "They came out of your house, they circled the house, and that's why we went roaring back into the jungle-fleeing from these watchmen of yours." Of course, she knew that God had sent His angels, who were visible to these men; invisible to her. I do believe that God knows how to do things like that.
I was sitting probably on the very front row, and I remember seeing the tears pouring down her cheeks as Dr. Blakesley repeated, it seems to me, a number of times during that week-and it was so deeply engraved in my heart and in my mind that perhaps I am imagining that she said it more than once. But she quoted Isaiah 50:7, which has been one of my life verses ever since. "The Lord God will help me. Therefore, shall I not be confounded. Therefore, have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed."
I can still see the tears pouring down her cheeks as she said that. She said it with more intensity than I put in it. Let me try to say it the way I remember she said it. "The Lord God will help me. Therefore, shall I not be confounded. Therefore, have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed."
Many is the time when I have stood in front of an audience that I have sort of looked over the front rows that I could see fairly well. I've wondered, "Is there one person here who is going to hear one thing that I say and remember it?"
I wondered if perhaps sometime Dr. Virginia Blakesley had looked over her audience during that week and noticed the skinny girl in the front row. That was I, of course-the last person that she surely would have expected would remember forever what she said that day and actually remember word for word the Scripture verse that she had given. I doubt very much that she would have picked out that skinny child. You never know what influence you may be having. God moves in mysterious ways.
In my own experience as a missionary, I have thought many times of the courage of Dr. Blakesley and the fact that she had a Rock on which to lean. When my first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in Ecuador, the words that the Lord had brought to me then were also from Isaiah, chapter 43, verse 2. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon you, for I am the Lord your God."
I can testify that God carried me through that. I have no doubt that God put a certain amount of iron in my soul through the testimony of Betty Scott Stam when I was just a child. I have no doubt that the Lord had arranged for Dr. Blakesley to be the speaker that week, arranged for me to be there also, in order that He might impress upon me the fact that to serve the Lord Christ is a dangerous business. But there are those who, full of joy and strength, can testify that He was there. When the waters seemed about to overflow, God was there.
I hope that there are some listening to me today who know that beautiful hymn, "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word. What more could He say than to you He hath said; to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? When through the deep waters I call Thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow. For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; My only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine."
We used to sing that in our family prayers at home. I think I've told you how every morning after breakfast my father and mother would herd us into the living room. We would sing a hymn before my father read the Bible and prayed. We loved that hymn. I can still hear my little brother Dave singing that hymn all by himself in bed. When we went to bed at night, we were allowed to sing, but we were not allowed to talk. Some of the time Phil and I lived in the same room. We could sing, but we could not talk after we went to bed.
Well, we all loved that hymn. And this stanza-most fortifying of all-says, "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not, desert to his foes. That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no, never, no never, forsake."
There may be someone listening to me who is deeply shaken by something that God has permitted. Remember-that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, He will never, no, never, no, never forsake.
I've been talking about women of influence, and Dr. Virginia Blakesley was certainly one of those. I'm going to get around to Amy Carmichael. But I want to read something that she wrote about mission work.
"Ours be the love that asks not how little we can give, but how much. The love that pours out its all and revels in the joy of having anything to pour on His feet. Recreation? For equipment for future work, with no leakage of future power. Abstention from things lawful in themselves, but not expedient for Him. Recreation need not draw us away from our people."
She quotes another favorite verse of mine, 2 Corinthians 4:10. "That the life of Jesus may be manifest in our mortal bodies." The life of Jesus was certainly manifest in my mother, in Betty Scott Stam, in Dr. Blakesley. And tomorrow I'll tell you about Mrs. Kershaw.
Lisa Barry: Hasn't this been a wonderful series? I'm amazed at the number of incredible stories I've never heard. I'm not sure how much time you have to read biographies. If you have small children, that may dictate your answer. But even though my children are small, I want to make it a point to read a chapter a day of a biography. Programs like today's make me realize what a wealth of good material is out there and available to encourage me daily.
Elisabeth has developed a list of materials which will help you get started. If you'd like a copy of this complimentary list, just ask for "Elisabeth's Recommended Reading List" when you call or write. You can enjoy this series on tape by purchasing a copy of this two-week series entitled WOMEN WHO HAVE INFLUENCED MY LIFE. The cost is $13.
You can send that, along with your request, to Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free: 1-800-759-4JOY. Our Internet ministry address is gatewaytojoy.org. Today's program has been a production of Back to the Bible and is supported by friends like you.
Tomorrow Elisabeth talks about another influential woman in her life-Mrs. Kershaw. We'll meet her next time on Gateway To Joy.