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Captivating ~ John and Stasi Eldridge

I was gifted ‘Captivating’ by John and Stasi Eldridge a little while ago but I never got around to reading it until recently. And wow, I am SO glad I picked it up! A book filled with bold stories and frankly, captivating stories that left me inspired as a woman of faith. This is a book about unleashing the beautiful heart of the female but the Eldridge’s have published ‘Wild at Heart’ which is the brother book of this one for men...

Let’s dive into the book and the wonderful snippets of wisdom that I was left with after reading cover to cover!

At the beginning of the book, they talk about God being our ultimate Ezer. Now this is a Hebrew word which has it’s roots in the meaning of being the great helper, rescue, support. And it’s because He is the irreplaceable need in our life. There is nothing we can accomplish without Him and in order to achieve what He’s placed on our heart to achieve, we NEED him!

“God calls us to a life involving frequent risks and many dangers. Why else would we need him to be our ezer?” (Page 32)

“God is essential. He wants us to need him - desperately.” (Page 33)

(Psalm 121vs1~2 NIV)

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.”

When we look around us, this world is not standard or average, the details of creation far outweigh the functionality of each individual person, plant, animal and place!

Look around you, it’s beautiful ~ look at yourself, you are made in the image of the one who created all this ~ you are beautiful!

"Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. We’re so used to evaluating everything (and everyone) by their usefulness that this thought will take a minute or two to begin to dawn on us. Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful.” (Page 34)

(Genesis 1vs27 NIV) “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Yet why are we stressed?

Why are we striving?

Why are we so anxious and toiled?

If we were made in the image of the creator in a creation that flourishes beauty just by being, then why do we live in such dissonance to this?

The Eldridge’s liken a woman at rest to the feeling she lets off to others. A woman at rest is not striving even when she faces trouble, she's not defined by mistakes or mess...

She is defined by her creator.

That is what beauty says, All shall be well. And this is what it's like to be with a woman at rest, a woman comfortable in her feminine beauty. She is enjoyable to be with. She is lovely. In her presence your heart stops holding its breath. You relax and believe once again that all will be well.

And this is also why a woman who is striving is so disturbing, for a woman who is not at rest in her heart says to the world, "All is not well. Things are not going to turn out all right." (Page 38)

And they go on to touch on the ever deeply moving issue of beauty… why is it still such a cruelly view topic when it was designed as a quintsenstial aspect of women?

It's because in order to settle into God-given beauty, no matter what it looks like for you as an individual, you must know to seek God first.

You won’t find beauty if you don’t know what you are looking for and you need to find what you’re looking for in God first!

“Beauty is, without question, the most essential and the most misunderstood of all of God's qualities of all feminine qualities too. We know it has caused untold pain in the lives of women. But even there something is speaking. Why so much heartache over beauty? We don't ache over being geniuses, or fabulous hockey players, Women ache over the issue of beauty--they ache to be beautiful, to believe they are beautiful; and they worry over keeping, it if ever they can find it.” (Page 41)

(Jeremiah 29vs13~14 NIV)

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.”

This quest for beauty is a journey, a journey of learning God and learning to love yourself because of Him, yet, our society has forgotten all about that quest.

“Somehow, somewhere between our youth and yesterday, efficiency has taken the place of adventure.” (Page 45)

And this leads to controlling behaviours, it leads to pride.

“Controlling women tend to be very well rewarded in this fallen world of ours. We are the ones to receive corporate promotions. We are the ones put in charge of our women's ministries. Can-Do, Bottom-Line, Get-It-Done kinds of women.” (Page 45).

We forget that beauty is not our own, it’s a hearts gift from God. So we can’t get stuck in pride ~ this is where satan went wrong!

(Ezekial 28vs17 NIV)

“Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom”

“Satan fell because of his beauty. Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty. He destroys it in the natural world wherever he can. Strip mines, oil spills, fires, Chernobyl. He wreaks destruction on the glory of God in the earth like a psychopath committed to destroying great works of art.

But most especially, he hates Eve. Because she is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than any

thing else in all creation, she embodies the glory of God. She alures the word to God. He hates it with, a jealousy we can only imagine.” (Page 85)

So what does Satan do about this. He attacks the hearts of the woman. He whispers to her that she’s too much, that she mustn’t reveal her full self because she’ll get hurt… and when she obeys, she gives him a foothold to diminish her true beauty.

“ 'You don't really want to go there, she'll be too much for you' is something Satan has set against every woman from the day of her birth. It's the emotional and spiritual equivalent of leaving a little girl by the side of the road to die. And to every woman he has whispered, You are alone, or, When they see who you really are, you will be alone, or, No one will ever truly come for you.” (Page 88)

What a lie…. the one that says; 'You are alone, you are unloved.'

All of us have experienced a trauma of some kind, a loss or a hurt that has gone unhealed. And these old wounds linger in to make us feel unworthy. But grief is a healing touch, we need it and it is a tool that presses us into discovery.

“As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, ‘The tears streamed down, and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested." Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered. It mattered. You mattered.”(Page 102)

We are designed to process in life, and grief along with the healing from a wound is an important process. But we MUST know that we are not alone in the walk… God is there, even in the pain!

(Psalm 56vs8 NLT)

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.”

He loves you and He shows this openly through His beautiful creation.

“God's version of flowers and chocolates and candlelight dinners comes in the form of sunsets and falling stars, moonlight on lakes and cricket symphonies; warm wind, swaying trees, lush gardens, and fierce devotion.” (Page 116)

You’ve probably heard the saying that there is a Jesus shaped hole in every human heart. And it’s certainly true, most new Christian can attest that there is a place they once tried to satisfy with everything else, but only Jesus satisfies the mould. But here’s a thought that’ll shake things up…

“There is also in God's heart a place that you alone can fill.” (Page 120)

Wait what! God needs me.

Yes He does, He not only loves you as a beautiful creation made by His intricate hands, but He has plans for you, He has a life of companionship with Him laid out for you. He has a purpose that only you can fulfil on this earth.

(1 Corinthians 3vs9 ESV)

“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”

(1 Corinthians 3vs16~17 ESV)

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

We must remember though, that we are fellow workers. What does this have to do with captivating beauty? It means that working in the Kingdom is an inheritance, it symbolises that we never did anything to get our position as a child of God.

So we can rest in the work the Father gives. What comes out of a heart confidently waiting on the Lord? Beauty.

“What is the difference between these two women? Rest. June's beauty flows from a heart at rest.” (Page 133)

That snippet comes after a section of the Eldridge’s talking about two women and how June, an older lady with not much to hear time or her name was far more captivating as a woman than a far younger lady who exercised every day, ate clean, had a high profile job, a great body…. Why was June more beautiful to behold? Because June wasn’t working for her beauty, she was resting in who God made her to be and pressing into His voice of direction in her life every day. That is real beauty, beauty from the source of beauty!

So how do we live out of this beauty? We spend time with the Father, we grow in Him.

“Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as he tells us what we need. Sometimes it will be a bubble bath. Sometimes it is going for a run or a movie or a nap. Often, Jesus will call us away to spend precious time alone with him. We grow in our intimacy with Jesus as we practice listening to his urging, his nudges within. Pay attention to them and follow.” (Page 135)

(John 10vs27~28 ESV) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

It is in this place of relationship where the closeness to Jesus walks you to healing in body , soul and spirit... at this takes our full surrender of submitting it all to Him to access this renewal.

When you are processing through hurt, or grief like I included earlier, we must cast out that which is hindering our healing and invite the fullness of Jesus to restore.

“By the authority given to believers in Jesus Christ, deliverance comes. Victory. Release. Healing. Restoration… I needed to address all three aspects ~ my body, soul, and spirit.” (Page 193)

This is no easy task, and since we are living in a very fallen world, we will find ourselves at His feet again and again in repentence… but this is good! It is our own short comings and our own battles that draw us closer to Him! We are not alone in this, His kindness is what we are guided by!

“He uses spiritual warfare in our lives to strengthen our faith, to draw us closer to him, to train us for the roles we are meant to play, to encourage us to play those roles, and to prepare us for our future at his side. It is not that we are abandoned.” (Page 195)

(Romans 2vs4 NLT) “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”

We can be facing difficulty everyday in our work, living circumstances, family strife… there are even those living in war torn circumstances… so how can we continue beliving in this goodness of God?

Well, the Eldridges use a real life example of a lady who works in central Africa.

“Jeanine risks death daily, but she does not keep that from stopping her. For as she says, ‘Security is not found in the absence of danger, but in the presence of Jesus.’ “(Page 206)

It is not a comfortable walk, this walk of following Jesus and becoming the beautiful woman He made us to be, but He is the restorer and the source, He is the creator and innovator of our dreams… we lean into Him and we awaken the desires for a better world that start within us.

“You will find that as God restores your heart and sets you free, you will recover long-lost passions, long-forsaken dreams. And you’ll find yourself drawn to some vision for making the world a better place.” (Page 213)

So where do you go from here, in the quest for your whole heart in a resting place with Jesus, uncovering the full beauty He made you for…. What does that mean for our life?

It means that we find our purpose, and our purpose that is alive now!

“We love Frederick Buechner's description when he writes, ‘The place that the land calls us is that place where the world's deep hunger and our deep desire meet.’” (Page 213)

“Now we should live when the pulse of life is strong. Life is a tender thing… fragile, fleeting, Don't wait for tomorrow. Be here now! Be here now! Be here now!” (Page 215)

Don’t wait for tomorrow, seek your healing now, seek your fullness now, seek your beauty now, seek your purpose now… Seek Jesus now!

Thank you for joining me on the recap of Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge. I hope that you are encouraged to go and learn something this life changing from someone further in the faith!

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