FamilyLife Today®

A Love Story: Lars and Elisabeth Elliot

with | May 17, 2007
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Today on the broadcast, respected author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot Gren, along with her husband, Lars, tells how God brought them together and kept them together through the years.

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  • Today on the broadcast, respected author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot Gren, along with her husband, Lars, tells how God brought them together and kept them together through the years.

A Love Story: Lars and Elisabeth Elliot

May 17, 2007
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Chip: I was just graduated from college, 21, playing an overseas basketball team, and we play a game, and afterwards I meet a missionary, and his daughter is there, and we ended up going for a picnic.  And I mean it was, like, "This is it.  This is it.  This is amazing."  And so the guys are starting to tease me until we get to Santiago, Chile.  We get to Santiago, Chile, do I need to go on?  Santiago was number 4, Argentina was number 5, and it was, like, I literally had the infatuation experience with five different girls in about six weeks in about six different countries, and I didn't know anything whatsoever about being in love.  But if you think that is love, you can get yourself in trouble in a hurry.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 17th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  So just how did Chip Ingram stay out of trouble, and how did he figure out which is the real thing?  Stay tuned.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.  I kept having this story from the Bible running through my mind as we've been talking to Chip Ingram this week about love and infatuation and all of that.  It's the story of Samson.  Chapter 14 of Judges – I'll never forget the first time I read this – Samson went down to Timna.  He saw a woman in Timna, one of the daughters of the Philistines, so he came back, and he told his father and mother, "I saw a woman in Timna, one of the daughters of the Philistines.  Now, therefore, go and get her for me as a wife."

 Father and mother said to him, "Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, among all of our people that you can take for a wife but from the uncircumcised Philistines?"  Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she looks good to me."

 I thought, is that an adolescent boy right there or what?

Dennis: It is, it is.

Bob: That is somebody who needs Chip Ingram's tests of love to see whether it's infatuation or whether it's the real thing, baby, you know?

Dennis: I agree.  I like what Chuck Swindoll says, "Samson was a he-man with a she-weakness."  And we've all known a few of those if we haven't been one ourselves. 

 Chip Ingram does join us for a fourth day.  Chip lives in Atlanta, Georgia, along with his wife, Theresa, and gives leadership to Walk Through the Bible Ministries, and he's written a book called "Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships," and we've kind of called singles to attention here on FamilyLife Today.  In fact, let me read a letter from a single young lady.

 It says, "My name is Ashley.  I'm 18 years old.  I listen to your program every day.  I started praying years ago that God would send me someone with specific qualities.  Last year I believe I met him.  I always listen to your broadcasts in hoping that I will be a great mom and wife one day.  I know I'm young, but even now I try my hardest to love my boyfriend as well as I can.  I often pray and ask God for help, and I ask Him how can I love my boyfriend today?  Your broadcasts give me much insight, and I love listening.  Thanks for reaching out to families in America.  My FamilyLife is not that great, and I often feel completely unaware of what a good Christian mother is.  When I hear loving Christian mothers speak on your program, I feel my heart being filled with ways to be a loving mother and wife.  Thank you so much.  I love what you talk about.  I truly use your program every day, and I just felt God telling me to tell you this.  God bless you, signed Ashley."

Bob: Well, I hope Ashley is listening today, and I hope she takes the tests of love from Chip Ingram on our website at  I hope she goes there and just runs through and decides whether her boyfriend really is the right one for her.

Dennis: That's exactly right, and go to  There is a test there that you can click on, and there's 12 tests of love that Chip has come up with.  It won't take you long – just take a little while to complete it, but it will be very helpful.

 Yesterday, Chip, we talked about the test of time, how a relationship that is really a quality relationship needs to have some time, some water under the bridge.  You talked also about the test of knowledge, which means you know the other person well enough that you know what they're about and who they are and that they're not hiding something.

 And then we also talked about the test of focus – is their focus on you, or is their focus on himself or herself?  You also talk about the test of singularity.

Chip: Yes, singularity means genuine love is center on only one person.  An infatuated individual may be in love with two or more persons simultaneously.

Dennis: Now, wait a second, you mean you could literally be in love with multiple people at the same time?

Chip: Well, when you're infatuated what I'm talking about these ooey-gooey feelings, this chemistry, this sense of lightheadedness, this sense of wonder, and this is great, and I think God gave me an experience, it's very humiliating to share, but, you know, it's pretty real.  So I share it in the book, and I might take a minute now is I was just graduated from college, 21, playing on an overseas basketball team, sharing Christ, so I've been in the Lord about four years, very growing, and I'm at the point, 21, I think this is my second summer out, and so 21, 22, and my eyes are open, like, where is that good person going to come from?

 I'm in the Dominican Republic, and we play a game, and afterwards I meet a missionary, and his daughter is there, and we end up going for a picnic and, I mean, it was like the water coming down through the mountains …

Dennis: Cha-ching, bada bing, huh?

Chip: Oh, I just was – this is it, this is it, this is amazing.  Now, I have to tell you that I wasn't in a deep relationship, but I had a girl back home that we'd not made any commitments, we weren't going steady, but I think I'm falling in love with her, but I'm waiting to find out.

 Now I meet this gal from the Dominican Republic, and it's whoa.  Well, we get on a plan, we go to Peru.  And I'm sitting across from the president of this federation and their team, and this girl does not speak a lick of English, and we just stare at each other during the meal, and afterwards she comes over around to my side, I know a little bit of Spanish, I find a little interpreter, and we take a walk through a city in Peru together.

Dennis: Now, is this a third girl?

Chip: This is the third girl, and I'm thinking – this is, like whoa.  The emotions are even stronger this time, and I'm thinking, "Man, I'm going psychotic."  And so the guys are starting to tease me until we get to Santiago, Chile.  We get to Santiago, Chile – do I need to go on?  Santiago was number four, Argentina was number five, and it was, like, I literally had the infatuation experience with five different girls in about six weeks in six different countries.

Dennis: I think this could be a new game – the International Dating Game.

Chip: The international dating game, and when I came home what I realized was, you know what?  Your emotions are emotions, they click on, click off, depending on the color of their eyes, the mood, the this, the that, and I didn't know anything whatsoever about being in love.  But if you think that is love, you can get yourself in trouble in a hurry.

Bob: I can beat that.  I've been in a movie theater with a girl who I took out on a date who I really thought I liked, and I'm falling for the girl on the screen simultaneously.  I'm sitting next to one and falling for the girl on the screen at the same time.  We all have had that kind of a lightheaded experience.  How does the test of singularity then work?

Chip: If you really love a person, you may find yourself drawn or having some attraction, and I think we need to say something right now to married men and to people that are married, because this is also how affairs occur.  If you think infatuation is love, you walk in the Starbuck's, and the lady who happens to be there at the same time and is dressed rather nicely, and she's kind of kind or that guy who opens the door, and you're married, and you've got two small kids, or you're under a lot of pressure, and you feel this weird kind of emotion kicking in – all it means is there is some chemistry biologically between you and this person, and you may be infatuated but it has nothing to do with love.

 And if you think it is, that's when people click into the movie I saw, maybe I don't really love my mate, and rather than saying, "Wait a second, this can happen to anybody, anytime, we're attracted to the opposite sex.  Infatuation is one thing, and you say that's what it is.  It's nothing more.

Dennis: You know, it could be that if you see somebody kind of looking at you kind of funny like that, they could have had some Mexican food for lunch, too.

Chip: Or they're looking at the person right behind you as you're smiling, right?

Dennis: That's exactly right.  Let's talk about this fifth test, it's the test of security.  How does love make us feel secure?

Chip: The way I wrote it in this test is this way – that an individual in love tends to have a sense of security and a feeling of trust after considering everything involved in the relationship with the other person.

 However, an infatuated individual tends to have a blind sense of security based upon wishful thinking rather than upon careful consideration or – and I think this is the key – he may have a sense of insecurity that is sometimes or often expressed in jealousy.

 People that are very, very jealous tells you that, wait a second, you don't trust the other person.  It's not built on knowledge and time and focus, and this is the one person for me.  And so I think this idea of security is when you're in love you're not uptight about watching your girl or your guy talk to someone else and immediately, "What did you talk about?  Why were you with him?  What's going on here?"

 Those are all symptoms that you're infatuated and you feel like you have to possess, contain, control the other person.

Bob: Chip, I think we need to talk to the guys here for just a second.  This need for security is bone deep in the heart of a woman.

Chip: Yes, it is.

Bob: She needs to know that she is safe with you, and that she is protected emotionally and physically.  It's not just about being physically safe but it's about emotional safety, and guys need to clue into that and provide that sense of security for their wives.

Chip: And they need to do that both with their actions, their attitudes.  This phenomena that we've talked about much on your program of pornography – when you counsel and meet with the woman whose husband has been online, he thinks he's just looking at pictures and what's the harm?  The devastation that occurs is "I don't measure up.  I'm not secure.  What could be wrong in our marriage for him to be there, or what's wrong with this guy that I'm dating that he needs to go there?"

 And all those things feed into a man creating security for a woman that says, "I am here for you.  First, spiritually, then emotionally, and then socially together in relationships, and then as we're married I'm here for you physically and vice-versa.

Dennis: And pornography is an emotional betrayal.

Chip: Right.

Dennis: And there are some single men who listen to our broadcast right now who don't necessarily connect.  What they're viewing on the Internet or what kind of magazines they purchase or what they read or the type of television shows they watch with their relationships with the opposite sex.  But they are interconnected, and if you want to really create security with a woman in a real, meaningful relationship, then that means you have to give up the fantasies, you have to turn from what others would try to profit from in terms of pornography, and turn toward a real person, work through the issues, and I think, even in primetime evening viewing, I think men and women need to be very careful about what they allow their eyes and their minds to feast upon.  And, again, keep pursuing the relationship with a real person.

 You talk about not only the test of security, but there is another test, the test of work.  Now, what do you mean by that?

Chip: The test of work is that an individual that's in love is going to work for the other person and for their mutual benefit.  If they need to study, if they need to get a job, it increases their desire to say, "Let's make it together.  Whatever it takes, I'm going to work.  I'm going to finish school before we get married.  I'm going to work two jobs for a period of time so we can do what it takes."

 A person, however, who is infatuated tends to daydream but often the dreams aren't attainable, and they kind of go into denial and say, "Someday, some way this will all work out," and when they get faced with very difficult situations that put a roadblock in the relationship, they're not willing to work.  They're willing to say, "Well, it will get better later, we're in love, I know it will just happen."

 And that simply is not true.

Dennis: One of our children came to Barbara and to me asking for permission to get married, and the young man was there, and he was asking as well, and we said, "Okay, that means that you'll have to pay for her college education, you'll need to pick up all her expenses, whatever we were helping with college and with her room and board, that's all on your shoulders, as a young man?

 And there was silence, and there was a gulp, and you could tell, "Well, let's think about this a little bit."  And to the credit of our daughter and the young man, that relationship ultimately was broken off because he was not willing to be able to work toward what needed to happen to make the relationship a reality.  And he wasn't willing to wait.

 I think, many times, there is an immature side of love that wants to run ahead, and it may ignore reality.  In fact, it may be a lot like somebody approaching an intersection with a train that's crossing, you know, the bar that comes down to warn you that you need to stop.  But instead, young people today can scoot around the bar trying to beat the train across the intersection, and that can cause a serious wreck especially later on in that marriage relationship.

Chip: And I think, actually, even, the next two tests are so interrelated, I'll highlight them, because I think it's conceptual, it comes together.  You know, the test of work, the test of problem solving, and the test of distance.

 And what I mean by that is because often, when you have a big problem, you don't want to face it.  "It will be okay."  "We come from different backgrounds."  "It will be okay."  "We can't economically do it."  "It will be okay."  "Your mom isn't for it, and my dad's not for it."  "It will be okay."

Dennis: Love can conquer all.

Chip: Right, and so the issue is, are you willing to face that and then do the work?  The next one, number eight, there, is about distance, is sometimes God puts you in a situation where are you will to keep loving one another without that ongoing emotional touch and connection.  And that really boils down to the work of saying, "I'm going to become the right person while we're apart.  We're going to build the relationship, we're going to talk deeply about what's going on."

 The work of writing the letter, sending the e-mail, paying for the phone, keeping the phone bills under control – see, all these things are evidences of the kind of effort and energy that it takes to work hard, face problems, and go through some seasons even when you're far apart you make it – there's the word – you make it work.

Bob: Chip, if two people who are not married find themselves in conflict, and they're locked up, and they don't know how to get out – what are they doing with that typically these days?  If they're not resolving the conflict, are they just breaking up or do they have another way of coping with it?

Chip: I don't know how, frankly, to answer that question.  What I will tell you is the typical way Christian and non-Christians are dealing with it is they're having sex, and it all feels better, and everything is okay.  Or if Christian couples who have made some level of commitment, they push it down, express some levels of affection, go to a movie, go out to eat, have little flare-ups, and what they're doing is creating unhealthy, dysfunctional patterns about conflict that they will be amazed in marriage that absolutely nothing changes.  In fact, it gets bigger and worse.

Dennis: Yes, and instead of being able to resolve it with a quick "I'm sorry, let's kiss and make up and make out," and run to the physical side of matters to be able to solve their conflict, later on in marriage that making up and that physical aspect of the sexual dimension of the marriage relationship may be one of the most difficult to move toward after here has been a serious conflict in the relationship.

Chip: In fact, if the average guy would really listen up right now, because the average guy who is married to the average gal, would like to have a lot more physical intimacy at a much deeper level than he's getting.  But what he doesn't understand is what you just said – it is the conflict emotionally, the unresolved issues, the not sitting down and paying the bills, not talking about how we're going to discipline our daughter, not going to the grocery store and helping me out – all those things that create conflict – how are we going to deal with the normal conflicts of your in-laws versus my in-laws.

 Believe it or not, that all goes right into the bedroom to be resolved.  And where it goes is not a good place.

Bob: You know, all of these tests are – I'm going back to the analogy you used earlier this week.  A diagnostic tool like we'd use on a car – I take my car in from time to time, well, I just had it in because I had to get the starter replaced, and they called me after they replaced the starter.  They said, you know, we checked your brakes.  You need front brakes, and one of these tires is looking pretty bad, too.

 So I wound up with a new starter, with new front brakes, and a new tire.  Now, before the starter went out, I thought the car was doing pretty well.  I didn't really know anything about the brakes or about the tire that was a problem.

Dennis: I've been to that car mechanic.  I've been there.

Bob: Well, putting it up on the rack and running through all of the diagnostic tests is the way to tell just how roadworthy is this vehicle, and we've got to do that with relationships.  I think one of the reasons you feel such a passion about that is because you went the extra mile in your relationship with Theresa when the two of you were coming together as a couple, you said "We've got to do this so we won't be sorry on the back end."  And it's paid off for you.

Chip: It really has, and we had, we had major problems.  You know, we had huge issues.  She had two small children, and, okay, how are we going to deal with that?  And what are all the issues, as a man, I have to deal with?  And she'd come to Christ after she had those children, and am I going to be a dad, and can I handle that?

 Well, I'll tell you what, you don't say, "Well, we love each other, everything is going to be okay," and how am I going to support that?  I was more and more involved in ministry, and I found myself for six or eight weeks in the Philippines why we were separate, and I found myself saying, "Okay, where is this relationship now that there is no Theresa to look at, there's no Theresa to spend time with," and what I found is I grew more in love with her as we were apart than I did together, and that was one of those tests that let me know God had done something in our hearts.  This wasn't just an emotional connection.

Dennis: All week long here, we have talked straight to both single and married alike about not marching to the drumbeat of the world but instead taking the high road, the road of Scripture, and 1 Peter, chapter 4, verse 8 says, "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."  That's our family's verse.  If you have eight people in a family, you're going to need a love that covers a multitude of sins, because that many human beings …

Bob: They can create a multitude of sins.

Dennis: A ton of sins, and that's why the Scripture exhorts us, "Keep fervent in your love for one another," and that's why I think whether single or married, we have to turn from the Hollywood version of love, which is dependent upon feelings, which is dependent upon what the other person does for us and, instead, deny ourselves and stay stretched out.  That's what that word "fervent" means – we need to stay stretched out in terms of seeking the best for that person we are trying to love.

Bob: You know, if Samson's parents had DSL or at least Internet access, and they'd gone to the website and gone through the 12 tests of love from Chip's book, I imagine they would have bought a copy of the book as well.  It's called "Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships," and it is available from our FamilyLife Resource Center. 

 You can go online to, if you have Internet access, click the red button that says "Go" in the middle of the screen.  That will take you to the area of the site where you'll find the 12 questions we've been talking about this week, and you'll be able to order a copy of Chip's book, if you're interesting.  It's called "Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships, God's Prescription for Enhancing Your Love Life." 

 There are other resources mentioned there including Elisabeth Elliott's great book, "Passion and Purity," and some of our listeners may want to get both of those books, use them this summer, go through them with your teenagers, do a Bible study through both of these books, and if you order both of the books, we'll send along at no additional cost the CD audio of our conversation this week with Chip Ingram, and you can pass that along to someone who didn't get a chance to hear it this week on FamilyLife Today or listen to it again with your sons or your daughters over the summer.

 Again, the website is  You can also call us if it's easier to order by phone – 1-800-FLTODAY is the number – 1-800-358-6329, and someone on our team will make arrangements to have these resources sent to you.

 You know, we need to say a word of thanks, Dennis.  I mentioned earlier this week that we've heard from a number of our listeners who have contacted us to make a donation during the month of May.  Many of them are aware of the matching gift opportunity that has been available to us, and we are hoping before the end of the month to take full advantage of the $475,000 matching gift opportunity.

 Every donation we receive is being matched dollar-for-dollar up to that total of $475,000, and I don't know exactly where we are, but we are still a ways off.  We appreciate those of you who have made a donation.  We are hoping that those of you who have not made a donation will consider today going online or calling us and making whatever donation you can make – whether it's $25 of $50, $75, $100, whatever it is, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar and, again, we're hoping to take full addv of this special matching gift opportunity.

 So can we ask you to go to the website,, make your donation online, or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  If you've not made a donation this month, we want to encourage you to do that.  If you have made a donation, you want to call and make another one, it will be doubled as well.

 Again, 1-800-FLTODAY or donate online at  We appreciate your financial support, and we hope to hear from you before the month is over.

 Well, tomorrow Chip Ingram is going to be back with us, and we're going to find out if you had to wrestle with the issues that we've talked about this week in your own life as you were going through high school and college.  That comes up tomorrow, I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. 


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