Shepard, Valerie Elliot. Devotedly, The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. B&H Books, Nashville, TN. 2019. 304 pages.
As someone who has a heart for missions, I have always respected Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. From Jim’s commitment and sacrifice to reach the unreached for Christ to Elisabeth’s resolve to go to the unreached people group who killed her husband, this couple is a witness to the mission of God in the gospel of Christ. If you are familiar at all with more recent church history, you will know who the Elliots are. The respect is warranted. Yet, what I did not realize is not only are the Elliots two people I greatly respect but people who I can resonate with. This is all because of what their daughter, Valerie Elliot Shepard, shares in her new book, Devotedly, The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot.
Love Letters and Journal Entries
Organized into six sections covering years 1948-1953, the book contains various journal entries of both Jim and Elisabeth as well as letters written by each other to each other. Readers will travel along as they see both Jim and Elisabeth wrestle with the call of whether he call of God to missions involved a lifetime of and commitment to singleness or if God brought them together to be one on mission for Him. Over the course of these six years, themes of waiting and a commitment to God’s will are prevalent. Readers will witness through these letters and journal entries the struggle of love, the reality of fallenness, but a hope for what God has called together. In a culture that lives for instant gratification, a love story like this on patience and purity is a much-needed one. As a single myself, I am not one for love stories but this one is exceptional, with a patient call on the Lord’s timing and a commitment to purity while waiting. This untold part of the Elliot’s story is a story that not only shares what their love looked like but also shows how to steward love in a way that honors God.
Letters of Elliots and Lessons for Us
While the subtitle of the book speaks of personal letters and love story, the book is much more than that. Thanks to Valerie Elliot Shepard, not only are these letters of her parents accessible to us, but the lessons she shares from them challenge us to this same type of story. As Mrs. Shepard shares, “If I could express my one hope for compiling this book, my prayer is that these entries of theirs would call us to search faithfully for God in His Word” (Shepard 45). What makes the love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot one of the greatest love stories is because they knew the love of God and were committed to Him first.
Read and Learn
While I could go on and recount many stories from the book, I was refreshed to not only read about these people I respect in church history but also people I can now resonate with as they considered their seasons of singleness and sought out the Lord for His will and in their relationship. This book portrays Jim and Elisabeth Elliot as real people, sinners who were in need of God’s grace just as we all are and people who had their faults. In the end, though, their resolve to love God and live for Him is the greatest display of love one could know and a lesson we can all learn to apply. If you want to know what it looks like to commit yourself to the will of God and steward a relationship well, then consider reading and learning from Devotedly, The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot by Valerie Elliot Shepard.
I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.