Review of Freedom to Flourish, by Elizabeth Garn
The Rest God Offers in the Purpose He Gives You
by Elizabeth Garn
P & R Publishing, 2021. 187 pages.
Review written February 28, 2023, from my own copy, purchased via amazon.com
Disclaimer first: I met the author of this book at a writers’ group meeting, and we quickly hit it off. We had lunch and I heard about this book and loved the concept, so, yes, I was predisposed to enjoy it.
And yes, I did enjoy it tremendously. I’m co-leading a ladies’ small group, and I’m going to suggest this book as our next choice for a study guide.
This book looks at the creation account and talks about God’s calling for women.
And “Freedom to Flourish” is a perfect description of that calling. Elizabeth Garn looks into the actual words used in Genesis in their context and shows us that God’s calling for women is much more than making babies.
She looks at what it means to be made in God’s image – both male and female – and what it means to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth as image bearers of God.
Art, music, hospitality, gardening, cooking, writing, storytelling, mathematics, programming . . . creating of any kind imitates God! You fill the earth by doing anything that adds beauty and life and fullness to the world around you, whether you prepare a simple meal, start a business, or create a work of art. The job of an image bearer is to use your gifts to mimic the passionate, creative work of God.
Oh, and her explanation of what it means to be an ezer (“helper”) is just plain empowering. And she points out that Eve was made for that outside the context of marriage and before the two were married. All women can be mighty helpers and defenders of humanity and all creation, not simply married ones. It’s not a subordinate role, and is even used in other places to describe God.
I also love the way she shook up my concept of Adam and Eve cast out of the garden in shame, dressed in some kind of wooly loincloths. She points out that the same word used to describe the priestly garments worn by Aaron and his descendants is used about the garments God gave Adam and Eve. They still bore God’s image and were sent out, not in shame, but with a calling.
Please, read the book to understand the scholarship and insights that the author uses to bring us to this place. But let me quote from a concluding paragraph so you know where she ends up:
God loves us! Not because of anything we do but because of who he is. And he has created us with freedom to live lives that display him in stunning ways. Far from the exhaustion and the striving, he has set us free to be women of God: image bearers of the King. It’s an extravagant calling! His plan for us is bigger and better than I ever dared to imagine. I want to stand on the rooftops and scream that we matter! That our hearts matter. Our minds matter. our passions and gifts and graces matter! The women he has made us to be matter. And all of that matters because we are his image bearers.
The view presented in this book has a liberating and expansive view of our calling as humans. And it’s strongly rooted in Scripture, pointing out insights I hadn’t noticed from the original language of these familiar passages.
Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/freedom_to_flourish.html
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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.
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