The Utter Relief of Holiness, by John Eldredge, was offered to me by FlyBy Promotions to read and review. I thought about it. To be honest, John Eldredge has not always been a favorite author of mine. He is raw. The first book I read seemed unpolished. Jagged. It was back when I as more concerned with ‘looking’ like a Christian, and had not spent time just trying to ‘be’ one. Have you been there? If you are a Christian you have to look and act a certain way? If you are a preacher you have to speak a certain way. Clean. Spiritual. Biblical. Focused.
We started going to a congregation that spoke to the men in the audience – in a language that they could understand. Knowing that all men walking through the doors are not 20 year seasoned deacons of biblical studies. I remember that first Sunday when they spoke of Halloween, (Did they just use that word in a church service??) and talked of who Satan is. The lights went out and a scene from Star Wars played. Darth Vader, walking towards us. The pastor comments – “Satan is not going to come to your house, in a Darth Vader suit, theme music playing – with a horrid case of asthma, he’s much trickier than that”.
And such it is with John Eldredge. He knows what you struggle with. He knows what movies you identify with. He shares from that point. I have grown to enjoy the style of living my Sunday – the same way I live my Tuesday.
As my walk has grown, so has my peace, hope and joy. Which brings us back around to this book -
What if? What if the one thing that you struggle with the most, were no longer a struggle? What kind of relief would that bring? Simple/hard things, for me would be car maintenance. Extra money after bills. Losing the desire to have a sweet snack before bed. Anxiety attack at quickly changed plans. Anger when being lied to. What an utter relief to not have these little things in my life.
What about Holiness? Do you struggle trying to Be Holy? Have you ever even tried? John balances the need for us to be whole, in order to be Holy. To be Holy, one needs to be whole. I was worried that I might not have time to finish the book before the review date – and that wasn’t a problem. I read it in 2 days. I have a list of people I want to lend the book to.
Laid out in 2 sections, the Surprise of Holiness and The Way to Holiness, John gives simple identifiable goals to be whole and holy.
I have hard time – thinking of parts to share. I’d love to share the question on Chapter 5, but it was a surprise to me. That he would ask it, after convincing us we knew the answer. and then, point blank asking – wow. But if I shared the question with you, it would ruin the build up . I’m still pondering it. I find myself asking the question, searching, as I’m driving or walking the beach this week.
We had an issue with living with holiness with the boys, and in “Choosing the Way of Holiness”, I had to stop and read a few pages to the boys. On page 111, John shares a visual of leaning into Jesus, holiness. Using Snowboarding as an example, the three of us understood. Standing at the top of the snow hill. Watching so many elated snowboarders enjoy the slope. Yet, standing up, on this small board, one must lean back, while heading straight down, the idea that gravity would have you on your rear, pulls at you to lean forward too far, it’s a balance. Somewhat like riding a bike, when you get it, its yours, and the joy is yours, but you have to lean. He went on to talk about surfing, our current passion. He shares:
“I’ve watched friends who are surfers, and it’s the same dynamic. There is a moment when you have to commit; you have to go with the wave or not. yes, there is some paddling on your part, but when the wave picks you up, your choice is to let it, to go with it, to accept its power and let it hurl you forward. you don’t create the wave; the wave power is utterly beyond you. Once it has you in its mighty grip, your part is to cooperate. Then the beauty comes. Holiness works the same way. What I mean is this: The Power is not ours. The power comes from God, from the presence of the living Jesus Christ inside us. He is the wave. If we think we have to paddle fast enough to create the entire experience, we will end up frustrated and exhausted from all the striving The name for that is Religion. God offers something far better: “Let me be the wave.” “Quote by John Eldredge.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13.
The boys and I identify with this at a base core level. I started stand up paddling a year ago. I can’t tell you how strange it is for my body to stand up on a thin board, in a cold lake. It took me days to try. I’d sit, kneel, but not stand. Once I did decide to stand it was near a dock, clinging to the ladder as I stood more with the support, than trusting the board to hold me. I was sure that as soon as I stood up, I’d be flipped into the cold current. Now, a year later, I can stand up, sit down, lay down, pup up, walk on the board, do a few yoga poses, I even took my wetsuit booties off on the board in the middle of a river once. I can walk off the dock directly onto the board. Besides hitting a dock on a very small race board, I have never accidently fallen off since that first week. I’ve always done something on purpose, to get into the water.
And that is how I feel with this holiness / whole ness issue. I see many people around me – not even trying to be holy. Or whole. They feel it is for someone else. Those people doing it – they must be more fit, stronger, more agile. In the holiness sense, they must have more experience, more knowledge, a closer deeper walk, they must be better, the must not struggle, so you decide not to even compete. Not to even try. Why try – as soon as you try on the label of holy, you’ll just get knocked over. At least it’s a great view from the shore or the top of the mountain watching others fly by.
Are you tired? Do you struggle with the daily life? I have . I REALLY have this past month. This book – really helped me to snap out of it. To be whole again. To pursue holiness. To pursue the Love of Jesus. I have so many people I want to just read this book to!
I noticed on the website that there is a buy one get one for a friend free going on. The link is above.
If you leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book as well.
When you see this at your local bookstore – Grab it.
About the Author: John Eldredge has written 12 books, including Beautiful Outlaw and New York Times bestsellers Wild at Heart and Captivating (written with his wife Stasi). His books have sold more than 8 million copies. He is the Director of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God. It has become a grassroots phenomenon with millions of followers.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Utter Relief of Holiness in exchange for reading the book and posting my free opinion of it on my blog by a specific date.