Gloria Furman. Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013. 192 pp. $14.99.
After I had our first baby and settled in as a full-time homemaker, my husband would come home from work each day with interesting stories and details of growing relationships at his job. I quickly started dreading when he’d turn to me and ask, “What did you do today?” Uh, let’s see. I managed a shower, changed countless diapers, and nursed. It felt both productive and completely inane at the same time.
Sometimes on our after-dinner walks around the neighborhood he’d ask another question: “What are you reading in the Word these days?” Well, I’m grabbing small bites before my eyelids close on me yet can’t seem to remember anything for more than five seconds, given that my postpartum brain feels like a sieve.
Nevertheless, I wanted more. I wanted to know my life wasn’t over and that God was at work both in my heart and also in our home. I distinctly remember thinking all I’d learned in my years of spiritual growth and sanctification leading up to that moment was being tested. The sleeplessness, the self-sacrifice, the monotony—all of it was drawing out what God had for so long been teaching me in his grace. And most significantly, I recognized that caring for my home and my baby would be a testing ground and further gospel education.
This idea—that the home uniquely demonstrates and crystallizes the gospel—is the message of Gloria Furman’s Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home and the reason I so resonated with the book. Brimming with rich yet accessible theology, Glimpses of Grace encourages women to think critically about why and how the gospel applies to the mundane of life. Furman, who lives in Dubai with her husband and three children, writes:
The fact that everybody does mundane things regardless of their religion is another reason we ought to consider what makes the way we live distinctly Christian. (16)
This isn’t the book I anticipated, to be honest. I was expecting practical directives on how to be a “distinctly Christian” homemaker, but Furman helpfully describes how all women (not just full-time homemakers) can see and reflect the gospel in everyday circumstances. She takes her cue from Jesus, who, she reminds us, talked about all kinds of domestic matters—from baking to gardening to neighboring.
In the second part of the book—where, I think, it really finds its footing—Furman provides examples of how daily occurrences or needs in the home can lead us to reflect on the gospel. Her terms and illustrations are relevant for any homemaker and memorable for any reader. For example, she compares a common type of prayer to pacifiers:
God is not accustomed to giving his children pacifiers to keep them quiet so they’ll forget they need him and then leave him alone. Sadly, sometimes when we pray we think God ought to give us the pacifier we’ve requested. We know that the thing we’re asking for is less than God, but we still want it because it will make us temporarily happy. (132)
Glimpses of Grace is so helpful because, as homemakers, we’re often taught to believe that our relationship with God must happen in the quiet moments of the day. However, many of us simply don’t have those quiet moments—and we grow frustrated when we don’t. Furman helps women identify gospel mercies in every part of the day, even when chaos and interruptions seem to reign. By practically explaining how she herself seeks such “glimpses of grace,” she helps us recognize the profound significance of the daily routines of homemaking.
As I read, I found myself wishing for even more practical application regarding how to think about and apply the gospel to specific situations. Nevertheless, Furman wisely draws our eyes up and away from specifics to behold how the good news applies in any situation, circumstance, home, and culture. Her chief focus is simply the gospel because she understands how easily our everyday lives—even our everyday attempts to honor Christ—can overshadow the simplicity, sufficiency, and beauty of the good news about Jesus.
Christine Hoover is the author of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart (Moody, 2013). She blogs for women in ministry at Grace Covers Me.