Review of ‘Elisabeth’ by Ken Yates


Grace Evangelical Society (December 14, 2022), paperback: ‎ 158 pages (Amazon*).

When a father writes a book about a beloved and departed daughter there is a good chance that it could turn into a rather sentimental panegyric—a balm for the families wounds, but not a right representation of the subject. This wonderful book does not fall into that trap, avoiding it scrupulously by several reminders from the author that he does not want the reader to leave with that impression, and also because the book is really about Jesus Christ.

Elisabeth is a book which succeeds in its purpose of being a spiritual uplift for believers by wedding excerpts from the life of Yates’s daughter to the blessings reserved for faithful saints in glory. Elisabeth Yates suffered from cerebral palsy. Pain, along with unfulfilled dreams like walking, dressing, and motherhood were her attendants through life. But she was a joy-filled, hopeful believer on Jesus, and she brought others into that sphere of joy that she often inhabited.

Using, therefore, Elisabeth as an example, Ken Yates has written a book about rewards! He reminds us of the many times rewards are mentioned in the NT and of how they reflect the kindness and mercy of our God. And he does this not in a preachy or an exhortative way, but by way of encouragement. Elisabeth did not put herself first. She was a warm light who drew you to her Lord. She had so many disadvantages and she longed to be with Jesus and to be released from her pain, but her father writes of her as one from whom he learned saintliness.

This attachment of the NT teaching about future rewards to snippets of biography work really well together. Yates manages to steer a course between saccharine remembrances and formalized theologizing, and the result is a highly beneficial devotional work from which the reader will emerge refreshed, informed, and encouraged.

Throughout the centuries of Christian history there have been very many saints who have had to endure great difficulty while being hidden from view. They are represented by the widow who dropped two mites into the coffer in Luke 21:2-3, whom Jesus saw and whom He singled out as the most generous donor. It is comforting to know that the Lord sees us (Gen. 16:13a), and He sees behind the exterior and into the trials of heart and soul which beset us—arranging themselves around us oftentimes with great disparity. That Jesus sees and will reward the Elisabeth’s of this world, and that He wants to reward us ought to promote godliness and selflessness in our own lives, and I am glad that Ken Yates wrote a book that made me reflect upon these things and encouraged me with this portrait of Jesus as the One who said, “many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mk. 10:31).

I have not included page numbers in this review for the very good reason that I passed this book on to my daughter. I have also given a copy to our Women’s Bible Study leader at the Church. Unsurprisingly then, I want to recommend this little book to you.

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