I first heard Rachel Held Evans on a sermon podcast when she spoke at Mars Hill years ago. She had probably just released her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood and spoke about the experience. I found her refreshing, enlightening, and inspiring.
Two things stuck for me from her teaching.
1. Eishet Chayil (Woman of Valor) from Proverbs 31, which instead of being a checklist for Christian women to try to follow (as I had always heard), is actually a beautiful, special Shabbat song in honor of the Jewish woman.
2. Jephthah’s daughter, a story in scripture about a father who made a careless vow after a military victory to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house. Which turned out to be his unmarried daughter. Rachel and a friend, acknowledging the difficult and sometimes crazy stories in scripture, held vigil in memory/honor of her.
I didn’t pick up any of Rachel’s books, however, until I recently heard reference to her again and her book, Inspired, on another podcast. I downloaded the audible version and the husband and I listened to it on a road trip.
I love the way Rachel lays out her book by telling a story that sets up each chapter. She then invites us into asking hard questions about scripture, and she lays out some of the interpretations and challenges some of the assumptions made about beliefs/areas that impact the way we live out and communicate our faith.
For those who once cherished faith and faith community, but then lost your way because of comments like, “you just have to have faith,” or “you can’t ask that question,” or you just haven’t felt safe asking the hard questions, then Inspired may help you find a kindred spirit. And maybe it will help you find your way back to Jesus and to a richer faith than the one you had before.