Stasi Eldredge, the best-selling author of Captivating, has just released her new book, Defiant Joy: Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting World. Because books are what give us joy at Page Chaser, we’ve asked Staci to share some of the books that contributed to her epic story. Enjoy!
Even though I write and am a fan of non-fiction books, I’m mostly a fiction girl myself. I’m a woman who loves a good story and who learns much from it. Historical fiction is my favorite. Which is not to say that noble Christian writers haven’t impacted me. I have been changed by their work and I continue to be. Writers long gone and writers living in my house have shaped my understanding of Scripture; of the world we are living in and most importantly – of Jesus. C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Watchmen Nee, Sylvia Gunther, Dan Allender, Jan Meyers Proett, Bill Johnson and my favorite (no bias here) John Eldredge are but a few of the authors who have impacted me for the good.
Still this article is about what shaped my epic story, so here you go.
The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom’s personal account of her life prior to World War II, during the War – both her and her families resistance and their subsequent incarceration at Ravensbruck – and after the war. Her story of courageous faith, her heart breaking losses and her life of love and service are enough to shake anyone to their core. Her transformed, surrendered life and heart is a shining beacon to all. The woman was face to face with one of her guards years later – a person who had been unnecessarily cruel to both her and her beloved sister – and Carrie forgave them. She forgave. She really did. She took seriously the call to follow Christ and her testimony – her life – inspired me beyond telling. I wept as I read and I drew closer to Jesus as I did. Oh to be like her.
And then there was Gandalf.
I began to read The Hobbit followed by The Lord of the Rings prior to giving my life to Christ. I was in the middle of the book when I did turn to Jesus in desperation and hope and experienced His life saving rescue. And I continued to read The Lord of the Rings even as I began to dive into the Scriptures. I was captured by the epic story. The battle. The incredible importance of the choices made by ordinary people, or hobbits as it were. The nobility of sacrifice. The humility of kings serving. The wisdom of leadership. The worthiness and cost of a living a life for the good of all. And then, the desire to do it myself.
I wanted to honor God and please Him but I didn’t know Him very well yet. As a college student when presented with a difficult situation, I would wonder, “What would Gandalf do?” He was wise. He was noble. He was good. He was a picture of my heavenly Father way before I realized it. But then to my delight, I did realize it.
God is noble. Wise. Good.
God is always acting behind the scenes for the benefit of all. God is humble. God is inviting. God is serious but He also loves a good party. He is aware of the epic battle we are living in, and so He invites us to play our vital part.
Back in the day I wanted to be an elf. An elf like Arwen or Galadriel, because she was beautiful and brave and powerfully impacting her world. And I wanted to be like Eowyn, so fierce and strong and valiant. And I wanted Gandalf to like me.
God used the book to tell me both about Himself and about the world I was living in. There are orcs though they come in disguise. There is a noble cause and a battle raging more dire than any described in fiction. There is a need for heroic acts and humble ones as well. Sacrifice is called for. So is a valiant heart – a heart that trusts in the goodness of God and will follow Him to the gates of Mordor.
I’m not an elf. I’m not Corrie Ten Boom. I am me. And I am called to be me – a woman living in an epic story being transformed by the love of God and equipped by Him to play her role with unwavering faith and a defiant stance tethered to the heart of our good, valiant, heroic Savior.
So I keep reading. And thus I keep learning.
Stasi Eldredge is a New York Times bestselling author, and her books have sold nearly 3 million copies and changed women’s lives all over the world. A teacher and conference speaker, Stasi is the director of the women’s ministry at Ransomed Heart and leads Captivating retreats internationally. Her passion is to see lives transformed by the beauty of the gospel. She and her family make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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