Isabella Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) was a single British woman who sacrificed a career in art in order to serve God in North Africa for 40 years. Her art and writings demonstrate her commitment to the beauty and truth of God’s Word and God’s world. Her lifestyle of a deep spirituality combined with theological acuity is the model we hope to emulate in all that we do and teach.
“Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen harmless worlds at once — art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best. It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over
all that is apart from Him.”
These words of Lilias Trotter are even truer today than when she wrote them in the early twentieth century. Today we can live in dozens of “harmless worlds at once,” both real and virtual. What good things in our lives are hiding the best?
The woman who inspires the Lilias Trotter Center was a hundred years ahead of her time in more ways than one. For example, her creative and innovative missiological thinking informed such works as The Way of the Sevenfold Secret using the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John to share the Good News with mystical Muslims. She traveled for weeks into the desert to meet with those who did not know Jesus and shined His light each step of the way. Her theological and intellectual acuity are a challenge for us today.
Lilias also expressed her love for God and His world through the beauty of her artwork. Her art and her spiritual life were intertwined, as she used her pencils, pens and paints to capture impressions of the people and places she visited.
The Lilias Trotter Center aims to help us all turn our eyes upon Jesus as we seek to share Him with those who do not yet know and love Him. We are committed to preparing the hearts as well as minds of men and women for the joys and challenges of serving cross-culturally. Spiritual formation and discipleship are as important to us as academic excellence.We are honored to promote the legacy of a single woman who had such an incredible, eternal impact through her life on earth.
Miriam Huffman Rockness is an inspirational woman in her own right. She has devoted years of her life to preserving and promoting Lilias Trotter’s legacy for our benefit.
This link will lead you to Miriam’s wonderful blog, Reflections on the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter. There you will find a treasure trove of Lilias’s words and images as well as Miriam’s insightful reflections.
Her books, Lilias Trotter: Passion for the Impossible, and the gorgeous devotional, A Blossom in the Desert: Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter, are available at online retailers or directly from Discovery House Publishers.
By the way, one final note: Did you know Lilias’s reflection quoted at the top of this page inspired Helen H. Lemmel (1863-1961) to write the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus? Listen here.
May we all be “focused on Christ and His glory!"