By guest blogger Mark Foster
Recently Bob wrote a blog entry about the devotional book Jesus Calling. I use that book as well and have for more than a year now. What was especially compelling for me is that the words Sarah Young shares match the experience of the way God has been speaking to me for a long time.
For more than 10 years now, I’ve engaged in the same practice: I write down on one page what happened that day (or the day before if it’s in the morning). Then I take a moment to reflect on what I had written. Next I write a related prayer on the following page… whatever bubbles up based on that day’s reflections: petitions, thankfulness, confession, etc. Finally, I pause and wait for the pen almost to move itself. On that third page is God’s response back to me.
I now have 13 or 14 years’ worth of notebooks filled with that process. When I look back through those notebooks, one thing that is remarkable is how the voice of the Lord is amazingly consistent, direct, powerful, and even funny at times. Looking back I can see layers of meaning. For example, in 2004 my devotional journal reads, “Mark, relax, breathe deeply and rest in me. Call “name” and get to bed. The rest will come in the morning. Really. I love you.”
The use of the phrase “I AM” is a recurring theme and often with a touch of humor. On June 7, 2005 my prayer journal reads, “Mark, put in the time for the results you want and STOP WORRYING – It distracts you from me and what I AM doing. Listen more. Laugh often, and live life.” On May 7, 2012, “This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace through the very adversity that was meant to harm you… Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way. Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done. Relax in my sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day. Fear no evil, for I can (I AM) bring, bringing good out of every situation you will ever encounter.”
This last quote is from Jesus Calling with my addition in bold. However, it is so consistent with the rest of the entries I have written down over the years that without double-checking Young’s writing for that day, I could not tell the difference between that entry and the others. The firm loving tone and direct instruction are hallmarks of the Lord’s voice. I love the way Dallas Willard puts it, “God does not mumble!”
In Jesus Calling, the consistency I see is around the word “relax”– things like “Don’t worry” or “I’m with you.” Although I imagine the message is different for different people, there does seem to be an important, regular refrain throughout the book. It is a message of comfort, and it underscores that I’m not the only one who needs to hear that message.
Written by Sarah Young, these inspirational messages are meant to be exerienced by the reader as though they are in Jesus' voice. Young has paired each day's reading with scriptural references for further study. Themes addressed include thankfulness, trust, and strength.
Hardcover; 382 pages.
Written by Sarah Young