Holiness Here

walking through park

There are two kinds of books on holiness.

One is the kind of book written by R.C. Sproul, J.C. Ryle, or Jerry Bridges. These are good and important books, possibly even life-changing, but they’re also challenging. You can expect a bit of a workout, and it may even feel like you’ve entered a gym that really isn’t for people like you.

And then there’s the kind of book written by my friend Karen Stiller called Holiness Here: Searching for God in the Ordinary Events of Everyday Life. It’s the kind of book that’s written for those who may feel intimidated by the other kinds of holiness books out there. It’s designed to help us recognize the holiness in our lives here and now, even when we don’t feel that holy.

Right in the acknowledgments, Karen says, “People who know me well were surprised I was writing a book about holiness. I don’t seem very holy — in a stereotypical way — most of the time. But that’s part of the puzzle I was trying to solve.” If you’re interested in a book that explores holiness for people who don’t feel very holy, this book may be for you.

Years ago, I sat down with Karen and talked about the kind of books I wanted to write to help people grow. Karen was supportive, but she asked questions that others didn’t. She had a gentle way of helping me translate my abstractions into something that might actually help people — not imaginary people or especially good people, but ordinary people, the kind of people who actually exist. She helped me think about what growth looks like for people who grow in fits and starts, and who sometimes find themselves stalled.

Karen brings that same quality to this book. She’s honest about her own life with its beauty and ordinariness, its quirks, joys, and sorrows. She’s a skilled writer, which makes her book easy to read. She’s a careful thinker, which makes this book worth pondering. But she also refuses to peddle platitudes or clichés, which makes this book about as honest as any you will read.

It felt like talking to Karen. She tackles important subjects like what holiness looks like with our bodies, money, and most demanding relationships. But she’s also honest about her struggles and setbacks. She helps us begin to see how holiness doesn’t always show up when we’re at our best, but simply as we get glimpses of God at work when we’re writing, parenting, dealing with difficult people, or just trying to get through the day.

I put this book down occasionally to chew on some of her ideas. I highlighted this book frequently because Karen knows how to turn a phrase. I put this book down once with tears as she described the loss of someone she called a husband and I called a friend. I finished the book more aware of God’s holiness not just on my best days, but in the mundane moments of life.

There are different kinds of books on holiness, and I’m glad Karen has written this one. It’s the book on holiness written for people who are scared to read books on holiness. I’m grateful for Karen, and I’m grateful for this book, and I think you’ll probably like it too.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada