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Book Review: Passion and Purity (by Sophie McDonald)

It’s an honour for me to hand the proverbial steering wheel of Fiery Logic to my dear friend and sister Sophie McDonald for this book review. Sophie works as Assistant Editor for Real Truth Matters magazine, leads the girls ministry at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Paducah, KY (her hometown), blogs at Reflecting the Son and is also the organizer of the True Beauty Conference for young ladies. Aside from all she does, Sophie is a dear friend and probably one of the godliest ladies I know and so without much further ado, here’s Sophie!

How does one express in words why a particular book gripped their heart and has never let go? How can one accurately do his or her favorite love story justice, encouraging everyone to read it, while at the same time not giving too much away? How does one highlight the most influential book outside the Bible in their walk with the Lord in a short review?

I’m convinced it’s impossible.

But that is the task assigned to me. So here we go. passion-purity

Before Elisabeth Elliot was an acclaimed author and speaker, she was a wife. And before she was a wife, she was a missionary. And before she was a missionary, she was a normal college girl who learned to daily surrender her heart, mind, will and emotions to the sovereign Savior who fully captivated her heart.

In Elisabeth’s book Passion and Purity, we meet Elisabeth Howard in the year 1947. There, as a senior at Wheaton College, she is asking the Lord if singleness would be a permanent call and praying between a career in medicine or linguistics.

In the pages that follow, we meet Jim Elliot and read of two young people who seek the Lord with everything in them as He, unbeknownst to them, weaves together one of the most intense, pure and beautiful love stories ever written.

This book is for everyone, whether they be single, dating, longing to be married or already wed, as it is packed full of rich wisdom, timeless advice, solid truth, applicable lessons and the glorious Gospel.

Take a look at some of the quotes from the book:

“I write this for one reason. To show that it is possible for two young people, full of all the juices that youth is endowed with by the Creator, to resist temptation.

They can’t do it unless they have a motive that makes it worthwhile.

They can’t do it alone.

…A word of warning here. It is not a good idea to go into caves or to sit by driftwood fires in lonely places if you are not yet sure of your God. Paul advised the young Timothy to “turn from the wayward impulses of youth …” Don’t walk straight into them and then blame God if the temptation is too great for you.”

“‘But how in the world can I find out what God wants me to do if I don’t know what I want to do?’ The logic of this question escapes me, but it is one I have heard more than once. Why not start by simply telling God you’ll do anything He says? You’re the servant. He’s the Master. It’s the only reasonable approach, isn’t it? Furthermore, there is the possibility that what He says will be something you’d like.”

“A settled commitment to the Lord Christ and a longed-for commitment to Jim Elliot seemed to be in conflict. Disicpleship usually brings us to the necessity of choice between duty and desire. They are not always mutually exclusive, however.

When our hearts are set on obedience, we can be sure of the needed wisdom to tell the difference between a conflict and a harmony. It may be a slow and painful process.”

She pens those words, “a slow and painful process,” from an abundance of experience. She has been in the trenches of singleness and questioning God, the trenches of fighting for eternal holiness when desiring temporal happiness, the trenches of sacrifice and suffering, and the trenches of honoring God when His way is most unclear.

While this is an excellent book for every Christ follower, those who find themselves in the season of singleness will especially benefit from it. You’re not alone, and if you take a look at this book perhaps you’ll discover, as I did, that what Elisabeth faced and recorded in her journals in 1948 is the same thing we face and record in our journals in 2014.

No, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9), so the relationship struggles we face nowadays have not changed since Elisabeth and Jim faced them in the 1940s, but greater still, God has not changed. He is the same God who writes the love stories of those who give Him the pen and, because of Jesus’ atonement and sacrifice on our behalf, He deserves the glory from every one of our earthly relationships.

I cannot recommend this book in stronger language. I believe the story of Jim and Elisabeth and the way their commitment to Christ superseded their love for each other will be an encouragement to all who open Passion and Purity.

But whether you find as much treasure within these pages as I did or if you decide you never want to read it at all, remember that God’s ways (the ways of obedience, honor and purity) are not only right, they’re good and they will always lead to your ultimate joy.

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