I’ve been looking forward to reading and reviewing a new book by Gloria Furman titled Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home for a while now. Gloria has been one of my favorite female writers on the blogosphere to follow over the past year or so. Her posts at Desiring God blog and Domestic Kingdom are always packed full of grace and biblical insight into the ordinary challenges kingdom women who are seeking to prize the gospel above all else face on a daily basis. Today, as her book officially launches, I have the privilege of heartily recommending it to you.
In Glimpses of Grace, Gloria writes candidly and often humorously on a very serious topic: how the gospel affects our lives as homemakers. Sure we all know that the gospel makes a difference in how we serve our families and that it is the reason why we serve our families, but oftentimes I think it can be easy to get caught up in generalities and popular Christian slogans. It certainly is popular these days to speak of grace empowering everything we do and the gospel driving everything we do, but when you get right down to it and find yourself in the middle of a toddler’s meltdown seconds before your guests ring the door bell while the chicken that just doesn’t seem to want to have clear juices flowing out of it continues to bake in the oven, you may find yourself wondering just how the gospel empowers and drives you. What gospel truths are meant to give your nerves peace and give your will the desire to serve and give your heart the ability to love in a moment like that? This is exactly the kind of practical and incredibly helpful information you will find in Glimpses of Grace, and it truly will give you a vision for treasuring the gospel in your home.
Gloria has divided her book into two sections: Your Foundations in the Mundane and The Miraculous in the Mundane. The first section is aptly named as it lays out a foundation for the more specific and practical implications of the gospel shared later on. In it, Gloria shares our need for the gospel to pervade even the most (seemingly) trivial of circumstances. She puts forth the notion that there is indeed a distinctly Christian way to go about our work and responsibilities as managers of our homes–a way that treasures and trusts the gospel message. I could easily relate to her admission of feeling as though gospel meditation and spiritual wakefulness necessitates peace, quiet and orderliness. I immediately thought of a conversation I had a couple nights ago with a dear friend (another young mom) in which we lamented our false rationale that says “if only we could get away and think, if only we could have some moments of solitude to commune with the Lord, if only we could rejuvenate our spiritual lives with some ALONE TIME, then we could get our spiritual acts together.” Gloria encourages us to find freedom in God’s ability to transform our most chaotic moments into worshipful and transforming ones:
Your spiritual life is not restricted to early mornings before the noise makers in your life wake up. If you feel that God meets with you only when the house is empty or quiet, you’ll view every noise and every noise-maker as an annoying distraction to your communion with God. Or worse—there are times when I’m tempted to think of my whining toddler or ringing doorbell as obstacles that Satan has put in my way to take my eyes off of Jesus. The temptation is to believe that if you could only transcend this spiritually devoid existence, then you could meet with God on a higher level. This idea is not only practically impossible and pastorally unhelpful, but it is unbiblical as well.
Even so, we must be careful not to swing too far the other way. When we immortalize the material and elevate it to the highest good, we set up idols to worship and pay homage to. This can happen when we attach our reason for being to our current role in life—even roles like being a mother or housewife. (pg. 33)
This is the purpose of Glimpses of Grace: to explore the ways the glorious truths if the gospel work themselves out in the whirlwind normalcy of life that most homemakers find themselves in.
Gloria is careful in this first section to explicitly explain the gospel message so as to provide a firm foundation for her readers. She boldly and beautifully proclaims the good news and encourages us to claim its wonder and power for our own normal, everyday, mundane lives as homemakers:
God’s triumphant grace in the work of Christ on the cross assures us of this: when our hope is in God’s glory, for ourselves and others, then our life in the home is anything but dull, diminutive, and disappointing. (pg. 72)
After sharing her heart and passion for the gospel’s practical implications, Gloria takes the remainder of the book to navigate through various struggles and circumstances homemakers find themselves in. Though most of the personal anecdotes and confessions shared by Gloria come from the perspective of a mother of young children, the gospel truth shared in each chapter can easily be applied to homemakers in any stage of life–even single women. Her book isn’t written for mothers per say–the principles and biblical council she shares can be applied to any woman–but mothers who have young children will find her personal testimonies to be particularly encouraging and those whose children are grown will be able to knowingly relate and chuckle at the humorous stories shared. Most of her personal examples are shared for the purpose of illustration rather than specific instructions for specific circumstances. The majority of each chapter is filled with pure, exhilarating, and insightful applications of the Word of God to everyday life.
So what aspects of everyday life does Gloria cover? In the second section of Glimpses of Grace, she explores the implications of the gospel for our weaknesses, our anxieties, showing hospitality, enduring suffering, fighting perfectionism, seeking contentment, developing friendships and more.
I found her chapters on hospitality and suffering to be two of my favorites–particularly the chapter on suffering. In it, Gloria openly shares some intimate details of the difficult trials she and her husband have faced due to a genetic nerve disease which often leaves her husband unable to physically help with any task that requires the use of his arms. Being in a similar stage of life as Gloria (with several young children underfoot) I could instantly understand how trying this circumstance would be. I can’t help but sense that this ongoing trial has greatly impacted and undoubtedly shaped her dependency and passion for the empowering grace of God. As is often the case in the Christian life, trials seem to breed a reliance on and appetite for the sustaining grace of our Savior.
Glimpses of Grace is unique in two ways: 1.) It is specifically written to the busy homemaker who lives in the seemingly mundane (though I believe anyone can glean important gospel encouragement from its pages) and 2.) It isn’t a “how-to” book on homemaking. This is a book about the gospel, it just happens to be written to the homemaker who desperately needs to know that she too can apply these miraculous truths to her everyday tasks of ironing, sweeping, changing diapers and paying bills.
I was greatly encouraged by this book and will be telling all my friends to get a copy as soon as they can. It is biblically accurate, incredibly accessible, and saturated with the liberating, empowering, and joyful news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.