Sunday, July 26, 2015

Betty's Bible

I've been reading in Miss Elisabeth's old Bible. In the front flyleaf is written:

Elisabeth Howard
This Bible was used from 1940-1956 (age 14-30)

With infinite care I crack open the cover of the priceless little brown, worn book and peruse the contents. Oh, I know; this book has the exact same amount of inspired wordage as my newer, bigger, burgundy one. But I've always been completely fascinated by history, and when I hold this Bible I picture a long-limbed 20-something girl with short brown hair, gleaning wisdom from it throughout high-school and then during her time at Wheaton College as she was falling in love with Jim... reading it in the moist, buggy jungle in Ecuador as a single, struggling missionary... perusing it's pages with a broken, aching heart as she reconciled with her young husband's violent death. Her neat, unbelievably tiny script is on many pages, and scribbled in the back are poems and quotes such as this one, ascribed only to "P.W.D":
If God has put me HERE, this it the biggest job in the world so far as I am concerned.

Or another, rather startling and controversial but thought-provoking:

Discouragement is sin.

Is it silly of me to feel somehow more inspired by this Bible than by mine? Pure emotionalism, perhaps? I won't argue that. But somehow, when I read it and I see her beautiful script and the countless underlined passages, I feel as if I've been given the gift of seeing into her heart. The heart of a girl my own age who never knew that some day she'd be known as Elisabeth Elliot, the "icon" (as I've heard her called); the wife of a martyred missionary; the brave soul who forged into a murderous tribe of Indians to preach the gospel; the author and radio host.... no. She was just Betty then: a faithful, thoughtful, obscure girl from New Jersey.
Maybe that's why I'm inspired by this Bible. Because during her years of reading, writing, and studying it, she had no idea of what was to come, yet the evidence is that she treasured God's Word and treasured the Author of it. She didn't just casually read a verse or two here and there to say she had done her Christian duty. She embraced each word for herself and decided to be faithful to it.
Faithfulness, then is what this Bible symbolizes to me.
I am challenged by the faithful owner of this Book.
I wonder if my own Bible shows such evidence of faithfulness and diligence in cultivating my relationship with God. No need to wonder, I suppose... I know it does not. I always thought that you could tell a lot about a person by how worn their Bible is; what's marked in it; what's jotted in it.
The whole crux of the matter is this (which she underlined who-knows-how-many years ago, in the 50th chapter of Isaiah, verse 5, and it struck me tonight):
"The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back."
Truth be told, He's "opened" all of our ears. We all know the truth. It's just a question of if whether we'll embrace it, or choose to be rebellious and take our chances that, for some illogical reason, the Just Judge won't really hold us accountable for the truth written in our hearts. it's not just unbelievers I'm thinking of; it's also those who take on the name of "Christian" but only live halfheartedly. What's the use? Give Him your all, or don't pretend to give Him anything.
When I hold Elisabeth's Bible, I'm reminded that long ago, one young woman chose at the age of 13 to give her ALL to God. To tenderly embrace His will. To eagerly pursue Him like a runner pursues a trophy. To try, at least, to love Him with the same passion that He loved her. I'm inspired by how He used that wholehearted girl! Now she is old, and His beauty rests on her like a benediction at the end of a life lived well; a constant reminder to me that most of my life has yet to be lived and the choice of how I live it is mine alone.
I'm determined that even though it most likely will not lead to the same unique experiences it led her to, I will make the same choices. And, eventually, I will win the same Prize.

Give to mine eyes refreshing tears,

Give to my heart chaste, hallowed fires,
Give to my soul, with filial fears,

The love that all Heaven’s host inspires;
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.
-John Wesley

11 comments:

  1. It's so encouraging to think how a life lived completely wide open to Jesus Christ can manifest itself...I'm sure at the tender age of 14 she had no idea what all would transpire by the time she was 30. When Christ leads a life, the twists and turns are nothing short of amazing craziness.

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  2. No Dani you won't have the same unique experiences as she did, BUT you are already living an experience that is unique within itself! God is good! Thank you for your faithfulness and example that you are living!
    Love Kari

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  3. i so enjoyed hearing of what you're experiencing and learning there with Miss Elisabeth. and i'm Challenged by these thoughts...blessings.

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  4. if you give a girl a dust cloth.....if you give a girl elisabeth's bible.......thanks for both stories! hugs. you remain in our prayers daily.

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  5. This is actually Bethany Skaggs on my mom's side for no particular reason. =-) I finally got caught up on your posts and enjoyed it all thoroughly! Since I can't be there to hold Elizabeth's Bible, I am THRILLED to have you describe it and write of it. Be faithful where He's put you Dani! Love,Bethany/Teddy

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  6. Wow, Dani. God speaks in so many ways - and what a precious chance to allow Him to speak to you through a means as special and unique as this. Can't wait to see you SOON! Here in Ukraine!!!

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  7. Dani,That is so awesome you are able to read from Elizabeth's bible and her experiences when she was a teenager.God can bless your life abundantly when you least expect it.Thanks for reminding me that I have to put God first in everything,and I need to give all of myself to Him,and not just bits and pieces.You have challenged me to want to get closer to God.Love ya bunches and miss ya xoxoxoxo's from the girls and QT.

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  8. girlfriend, LOVE this. it was so amazing to meet you the other day. i felt connected to you somehow right away. (even though that sounds really weird and mystical, i am neither, i promise)

    what do you do with your time other than your work there at the gren house? our flights got cancelled and delayed and so forth. we are here now until tomorrow.

    email me...i don't have your email address. i'm also on facebook...michawn madden ebersole. would love to keep in touch. or...you can call me or text...318-518-5512 (i can put this number online without fear because i will no longer have this number after tomorrow...hahaha).

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  9. <3 ...I think that she will have a special hug for you in Heaven to thank you for the love you are pouring out each day, so faithfully, now. :) I loved speaking with you the other day and look forward to our next phone date! Shine on sista!!! :) Love to you!

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  10. Dear Dani,
    This is very inspiring. I follow your blog often and it makes me happy that there are others like myself in this christian race. May God help each of His children to follow His Words and treasure it in their hearts. I would have posted my blog link here but then it won't be private anymore :) Remain blessed!

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  11. Amen Dani! This post encouraged my heart tonight. Blessings on you as you keep on saying "YES" to Jesus!

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Thanks--I'll be thrilled to hear from you!