Have you ever felt that your feet were literally in the footsteps of giant men and women of faith? While Israel is the ultimate dusty road, this summer, after reading Devotedly, The Love Letters of Jim and Betty Elliot, we began walking.
Elisabeth Elliot recorded this just prior to Jim’s departure for Ecuador:
But to be here with Jim, it was beyond imagination. Monday afternoon we all (Betty, Phil, Marg, Pete, and Jim) climbed Bald Mountain and then hiked down over Artist’s Bluff. Tuesday we hiked through the Flume, and then up to Lonesome Lake. Wednesday, a gray day, we took the Ammonoosuc Trail up to Lake-of-the-Clouds on Mt. Washington. The enjoyment of nature–all the loveliness our Father has made with His hands–is doubly rich sharing it with Jim. Our minds run quite in similar patterns, complementing each other, dovetailing and meeting.
Last night we went to Littleton, where we ate at Thayer’s Hotel, then drove up the “Noth” (the way the New Englanders pronounce it), where we sat in the car by Echo Lake, in a howling rain and windstorm. Just to be with him is peace, peace. . .
Jim Elliot captured the same experience in his journals:
October 22. Climbed Bald Mountain. Wind tangling her hair. Kerosene lamp shadows. . . by the fire.
October 23. The Flume, the Boiler (the Basin, a natural-rock formation in the Pemigewasset River), Lonesome Lake, the Old Man in the Mountain. Night by the fire. I cried a little at thoughts of leaving her.
October 24. Mount Washington. Happy frankness in the discussion on the way down. The waterfall that formed two flows, then one, two, and emptied into the pool. Dinner at the hotel in Littleton. Storm at Echo Lake. She wore pearl earrings for me.
So we headed out to New Hampshire to walk these paths. At Echo Lake, the staff confirmed the “Notch” can quickly turn from beauty to stormy. “The Boiler” is still swirling.
We wished we had hiked, but instead gained a bumper sticker: “This car climbed Mt. Washington.”
At Thayer’s Hotel we found the 50’s place where Jim and Betty Elliot had dinner. Ulysses S. Grant and Richard Nixon also walked those hardwood floors.
Walking in the footsteps of giants reminds us that great minds change the events of history. Their journals reveal real people who fall in love – or forsake all to follow Jesus.
Some see it. Some miss it. At Bald Mountain, two techies simply saw the beautiful vista as a potential take-off point for drones. How often do I miss God’s handiwork and history work?
For summer reading, we’d recommend for all ministry leaders, Wiersbe’s Walking with the Giants. For the fall: who from the past, might be a mentor to me?
As a kiss of God’s providence, we were given a tour of one of Elisabeth Elliot’s homes. Trunks were still in the attic, portraits of her matriarchs still on the walls, family authored books were still on the shelves. One book, by her brother, Tom Howard, had been read on our honeymoon.
The goodness and mercies of God follow us all our days (Psalm 23, Ephesians 1-2). Summer in creation shouts God’s glory and summer reading speaks God’s growth of people. These truths shape us. Consider Elisabeth Elliot’s maxim: “Do the Next Thing.”
“Those who walk with the wise will become wise” (Prov 13:20). We’re diligently walking towards wisdom from God’s Word but also walking in the footsteps of Giants.
If you’d be interested in learning from Giants, why not consider a course on Church History with Dr. Michael Haykin this fall or the Great Women of the Faith course with Dr. Haykin and Dr. Linda Reed in January – April 2020.