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What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.
With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through.
LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.
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JOHN ELDREDGE is the founder and director of Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a fellowship devoted to helping people discover the heart of God. John is the author of numerous books, including Epic, Waking the Dead, Wild at Heart, and Desire, and coauthor of Captivating and The Sacred Romance.
STASI ELDREDGE, who is passionate about mentoring women in finding their true identity as the beloved of Christ, has been leading women's Bible studies for years. With a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and formerly on staff with Youth for Christ, Stasi now leads the women's ministry of Ransomed Heart. She has been married to John for nineteen years and together, they have three sons.
It Can Be Done
“Dearly Beloved, we have gathered here today in the presence of God to witness the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. . . .”
And so the ceremony begins.
It is a ritual ancient as time and young as the hearts of the man and woman standing before us. (These brides and grooms look younger every year.) John is officiating. The bride and groom are dear friends. They are in love. We, their family and friends, are here to support them, celebrate them, all dressed up in our Sunday best. The church is glowing with candlelight; the flowers are so lovely. The Groom looks terrified but happy; the Bride is nervous and radiant. Suddenly I wonder, Did I sit on the proper side? Was it Bride’s side on the left, Groom’s side on the right? Or the other way around? The bridesmaids are stunning. Oh dear. They won’t be wearing those dresses ever again!
John continues, “The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy. . . .”
He looks so handsome in a suit and tie. I remember how he looked on our wedding day in that fabulous black tux with tails. I hope he asks me to dance at the reception.
“Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.”
The liturgy begins to settle us in. The church quiets, the coughing
subsides, people are paying attention.
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
No matter how many weddings I attend, there is something inexplicably stirring about all this— the ceremony, the making of vows, the great cloud of witnesses, something about this remarkable act feels. How does one describe it? Mythic.
“Daniel and Megan, you are about to abandon yourselves to each other, throw caution to the wind, forsake independence, isolation and all others. You will vow to each other your undying love. Before you do, we must call this what it is— this is perfect madness.”
That got the crowd’s attention.
“As an aspiration, how lovely. As a reality, how rare. Everyone wants love; everyone is looking for love. Few seem to find what they are looking for; fewer still seem able to sustain it. Why in heaven’s name would you come to church to publicly dedicate yourselves to something so risky, so fraught with danger, so scandalous? ‘The heart has its reasons,’ Pascal confessed, ‘that reason knows not of.’ Deep in the wellspring of our hearts there is a desire— for intimacy, beauty, and adventure. And no matter what anyone might say, we look for it all the days of our lives.”
“Friends, I know what you are thinking. As you watch this today, there is something in your heart that says, ‘Well, maybe. Maybe this time. Maybe this couple.’ But what if, what if Daniel and Megan, in all their frail humanity, are living out before us right now a picture, a metaphor of something far more real and substantial. I’d like to suggest that this no common passion play. Things are never what they seem. If you would see things clearly you must see with the eyes of the heart. That is the secret of every fairy tale, because it is the secret to the Gospel, because it is the secret to life.”
“Scripture tells us that we might at any time entertain an angel simply by welcoming a stranger. The serpent in the garden is really the Prince of Darkness. The carpenter from Nazareth— there is more to him than meets the eye as well. Things are not what they
seem, and so if we would understand our lives— and especially our marriages— we must listen again to the Gospel and the fairy tales based upon it. There are larger events unfolding around us, events of enormous consequence. A lamp is lit and love is lost. A box is opened and evil swarms into the world. An apple is taken and mankind is plunged into darkness. Moments of immense consequence are taking place all around us. Especially this.”
“Dearly Beloved, you see before you a man and a woman. But there is more here than meets the eye. God gave to us this passion play to reenact, right here and now, the story of the ages. This is the story of mankind, the one story we have been telling ourselves over and over again, in every great myth and legend and poem and song. It is a love story, set in the midst of desperate times, set in the midst of war. It is a story of a shared quest. It is a story of romance. Daniel and Megan are playing out before you now the deepest and most mythic reality in the world. This is the story of God’s romance with mankind.”
I’m curious what the audience is thinking. When John speaks of love and marriage as deeper than fairy tale, what does our heart say in reply? I know the young women listening just said in their hearts, Oh I hope that is true! I long for that to be true! The young men are wondering, If that is true, what is this going to require of me? The older women filter this through the years of our actual marital experience; they are thinking, Hmmm. (It is a mixture of Yes, I once longed for that, and, Perhaps it will come true for her; I wonder if it still might come true for me.) And the older men sitting here now are simply thinking, I wonder if the reception will have an open bar?
“You don’t believe me,” John says. “But that’s because we don’t understand fairy tales and we don’t understand the Gospel which they are trying to remind us of. They are stories of danger; they are stories where evil is very, very real. They are stories which require immense courage and sacrifice. A boy and a girl thrown together in some desperate journey. If we believed it, if we actually saw what was taking place right here, right now, we would cross ourselves. We would say desperate prayers, earnest prayers. We would salute them both and we would hold our breath for what happens next. Daniel and Megan, it is time to make your vows. After this, there is no turning back.”
I find myself wondering, What did the ancients know, that they placed vows at the core of this ceremony? Did they understand that the crushing weight of all our desire would break a marriage, that we needed something far more substantial to secure this frail union? It makes me think of the Special Forces, vowing their lives to one another as they embark on a perilous mission in dark lands, the outcome of which remains quite uncertain. Vows.
“. . . from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and forsaking all others, I will be yours alone as long as we both shall live.”
The church is now very, very quiet. Only the older couples have any idea what these lovebirds have just promised, bless their hearts. They really believe that their marriage will somehow avert the darker side of the pledge; surely what they have in mind now is all their hopes and dreams of the “for better, richer, in health” parts. We all believed that. But Cortes has just burned his ships, and a good thing, too.
Next comes the rings, and John’s charge to the couple. I love this part. What do you say to the young man entering marriage? What do you say to the young woman?
“Daniel, you are about to give your life away. You are stepping up, you are volunteering for the toughest assignment a man will ever be given: To offer your heart and your strength to Megan, time and time and time again, for the rest of your days. You have some sense of the weightiness of it. That’s why you have that nervous grin on your face.
But there was a reason they chose young men to send to the beaches at Normandy; they did not for the most part know what was coming. Older men would have been harder to recruit. I will not lie to you—nothing will be harder. And nothing will be richer. My words to you today are: It can be done. And it is worth it. To discover that because of your strength and your sacrifice Megan can become the woman she was meant to be, that somehow your fierce love can free her heart and release her beauty— that is worth what ever this may cost you. By the grace of God, you can do this. You have what it takes.”
“Megan, you have dreamed of this day for a long, long time. And now you, also, are about to give your life away. It might seem easy and natural at first, to offer your feminine heart and your vulnerable beauty to Daniel. But do not be deceived. Nothing requires more courage than for a woman to truly offer herself to her man time and time and time again. Look around. Do you see many older women risking this? But I also say to you: It can be done. And it is worth it. To discover that because of your beauty and your sacrifice Daniel can become the man he was meant to be, that somehow your fierce love can free his heart and arouse his strength— that is worth what ever this may cost you. By the grace of God, you can do this. You are that beautiful woman.”
“Daniel, Megan, in choosing marriage you have chosen an assignment at the frontlines in this epic battle for the human heart. You will face hardship, you will face suffering, you will face opposition, and you will face a lie. The scariest thing a woman ever offers is to believe that she is worth pursuing, to open her heart up to pursuit, to continue to op...
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