Saturday, October 11, 2014

'Good News for Weary Women' by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Are you exhausted? Women today really do feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Every morning we are greeted with a long list of to-dos: get the kids up and out the door on time, have a meaningful quiet time, put in a full day at the office, spend an hour at the gym, prepare a healthy and delicious meal (organic and locally grown, of course), and make sure the sink sparkles before you go to bed. Oh, and don't forget to look great and smile while you're doing it. These are all good things to do, of course. But the bigger problem occurs when we start to feel as if our worth is measured by our to-do lists. And the messages we receive at church, on Facebook, and from the media only perpetuate these unrealistic expectations, creating a relentless cycle of exhaustion. As Elyse Fitzpatrick has traveled this country, she has seen increasing evidence of this weariness epidemic invading our churches and communities. And she has good news for women everywhere: there is hope! God doesn't judge us by our to-do lists. Instead, He calls us to faith. Free yourself today from the endless stream of bad advice and discover the true rest God offers.
This is a wonderful resource for those of us who wear ourselves out with anxiety about measuring up to whatever the world tells us we should be doing. We are anxious to perceive clear callings in our lives, and then carry them out. But when asked directly what we must be busy with to be sure we're doing the work of God, Jesus replied that our only work is to believe in Him whom God sent (John 6:29, backed up later by Acts 16: 30-31). In the light of all the to-do lists, hard work, people pleasing and guilt-trips we put ourselves through, I think this has the potential to be as radical now as it must have been when He said it, if only we slow down long enough to let the repercussions sink in.

Elyse Fitzpatrick explains that we sadly live in a Christian culture which is essentially the same as the world around us, based on a 'what goes around comes around' principle. We have the programmed belief that if we do good things, God is obligated to bless us, and if we do bad, He'll punish us. This, she says, is nothing more than karma dressed in a Christian dress.

I've been sucked into the performance mode, and found this book's emphasis on the free gift of grace most refreshing. The New Testament stance of boasting in our weaknesses and knowing that Jesus' righteousness covers us is something we rattle off, but is so counter-cultural to the way we truly think. We need the reminder that we are free to boast only in the truth, that we are loved by God. All the law we must obey has already been obeyed by Jesus on our behalf. It's such a needless burden to think that our identity is derived from our actions and others' approval.

This book has got me all set to believe that God is as good, powerful, wise, loving and friendly toward me as He says He is, and relax at last. Why listen to the voice of guilt when forgiveness has been freely granted? It's crazy!

The book has its share of quotes which get straight to the point. 'Something must occupy the centre of our lives, and if it isn't the strong medicine of the Good News, it will be the poison of stupid rules,' Fitzpatrick tells us. 'Will we trust human strategies of self-rescue or prophetic promises of divine grace?' Finally, we all need to remind ourselves that we who believe in God's Son, receive the same benediction He received. 'You are my beloved son or daughter. With you, I am well pleased.'

Thanks to Net Galley and Tyndale House for my review copy.

5 stars.

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