Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge

Those who know me know that I am a big fan of anything written by John Eldredge and his wife Stasi and/or that comes out of Ransomed Heart Ministries, their ministry. The first book of theirs I read, Wild at Heart, remains one of the top five most influential books in my life, though if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Waking the Dead. That is why when I had a chance to receive a copy of their newest book, Love & War, for free if I simply reviewed it on my blog, I was beyond thrilled.

Love & War's (L&W) tag line is "finding the marriage you've dreamed of." Those familiar with the work of Ransomed Heart and the Eldredge's will find familiar themes throughout L&W, placed this time in the context of marriage. The main theme of L&W is that marriage is an epic love story set in the middle of war; there is an enemy, but it is not each other. It encourages couples to rediscover what they once wanted out of marriage, and to fight for one another and alongside one another for the greatest marriage possible. The core of the book can be summed up by a quote from page 38 which says, "We are created to love and be loved. And there is no greater context, no better opportunity to really love someone and to be loved by them throughout an entire lifetime than you will find in marriage. Of course it is dangerous as well - the two always go together. There is no greater place for damage, too, because there is no greater place for glory. God uses marriage to bring us the possibility of the deepest joys in life; Satan tries to use it for destruction."

By pointing out the centrality of marriage in God's plan, both for humanity as a whole and for most individuals, the Eldredge's help their readers to grasp the significance of marriage in the overall narrative. L&W is full of personal stories and examples. The points made and advice given are not just theoretical tips; they come from hard won experience, and the Eldredge's give their readers an up close and intimate - sometimes embarrassingly so - look how they arrived at these conclusions to prove it. Their honesty helps tear down the facade we so often want others to see and take an honest look at ourselves.

Even as a single person, I found this book very encouraging. The story told throughout L&W is centered around marriage, but almost everything in it can be applied in other relationships on some level. As part of a generation plagued by divorce in our own lives and that of our families, it was refreshing to get a glimpse into a marriage that has had its ebbs and flows over the years - even walking to the brink of divorce at times - but in the end is as rich and fulfilling as its ever been because each party is willing to fight for the other, and for the greater glory of God.