– Elisabeth Elliot
Passion & Purity is one of my favorite books ever. I love Elisabeth Elliot’s books and Passion and Purity in particular has been used by God to speak to me in key times of my life. (Elisabeth Elliot was the wife of Jim Elliot- the missionary who was killed by the people he was trying to reach before they even could really talk to them. Elisabeth Elliot and others ended up ministering to that tribe later on where many became Christians, including those who had attacked the missionaries. She’s one of my heroes!) For those who haven’t heard of it or read it, it’s basically Elisabeth and Jim Elliot’s love story (an amazing one!) and contains a lot of godly wisdom about the process of waiting on God, particularly in the area of relationships.
It helped me during the season of waiting in singleness and gave me practical advice on what to do with the deep longings and desires of my heart, but not in a way that stifled those desires in an unhealthy manner. Rather than saying things like “dating/sex/etc. is bad! so don’t do it!”, she helped me to see God’s perspective on intimacy, love, loneliness, and marriage. Things that she wrote in it spoke to other areas of my life as well, like when I was uncertain about my future and needed to learn to trust God to be my good shepherd. The book contains letters from Jim Elliot- a hero in the faith and an example of being all out for God- where he honestly expressed his desire for Elisabeth while wrestling with God’s call and will. His expressions of commitment to God and passion for her were timely for me to read at a time when I had started to wonder if my desire for a relationship/marriage meant that I lacked a desire to do God’s work wholeheartedly, and it helped to seeing that both could not only coexist but were meant to be mutually beneficial.
The world is constantly telling people that they are missing out on the best that life can offer if they choose to do things God’s way. The thing that makes me sad is that as Christians, we so misunderstand/misrepresent God’s heart for us that we either 1) believe the world and do what they do or 2) obey out of fear/guilt by our own power while believing the world in our hearts. That’s why I’m so so thankful for godly people and resources in churches that have an amazingly refreshing Biblical perspective on purity, relationships, and marriage. One person shared with me before that in their struggle in purity, what helped was hearing God’s perspective on intimacy- and not just in a “no!” kind of way. The Biblical understanding of God’s design displaced the way the world had portrayed it and took from the luster of sin.
I’ve been feeling so thankful lately to have a man who I know fights for my purity and honors me deeply. It’s not that I deserve it and I’m a naturally “pure person”. God has shown me so much grace and forgiveness to cover over me in the ways I have compromised in the past and part of that grace has been extended through Jeff. But in our relationship I am seeing experientially not only that passion and purity can go hand in hand but how they must, and how wonderful it is to know I am honored and desired at the same time. Some of you know the boundaries that we have set in our dating relationship, and now, a few weeks from our wedding, I thank God that we have them. Rather than making me feel stifled by legalism, those boundaries have affirmed me and allowed me to experience the truth that to walk in God’s ways means true liberty and joy. God is so good to us.