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Bedtime Reading

Every night before I sleep, I pick up a little book a friend gave me over a year ago for a birthday gift. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is a year-long devotional, but I’ve continued to read it even after reading all 366 devotions. I have been caught by the mystery that no matter what kind of day I’ve had, the day’s devotion seems to speak directly to me and my circumstances.

I recently found out two friends also read this devotional as part of their daily routines. We read the exact same thing every day, but we never knew until now. But it gets stranger. One of these friends told me that the daily readings always have some application to her day. Even though my friend and I may have completely different days, we both can connect to what we read in Jesus Calling, and it tells us just what we need to hear.

It doesn’t matter what my day is like, this book leaves an impact, calling to those deep achings of the heart. Each devotion is written as if it is a personal message from Jesus, supported by Bible verses listed underneath. This format helps me to realize the Bible as God’s words transcribed for me. Instead of reading dry text, I start to hear his voice coming through, that whisper on the wind.

The devotions also emphasize God first, as the primary priority before my goals, work, and worries. Each day’s passage reminds me to refocus on Jesus and center myself on him, letting everything else weighing me down to fall away. Jesus Calling is about resting in the presence of God, the one who invites you into peace and joy. I cannot imagine a better comfort as I fall asleep.

Tonight’s devotion reads:

“Leave outcomes up to Me. Follow Me wherever I lead, without worrying about how it will all turn out. Think of our life as an adventure, with Me as your Guide and Companion. Live in the now, concentrating on staying in step with Me. When our path leads to a cliff, be willing to climb it with My help. When we come to a resting place, take time to be refreshed in My presence. Enjoy the rhythm of life lived close to Me.

“You already know the ultimate destination of your journey: your entrance into heaven. So keep your focus on the path just before you, leaving outcomes up to Me.”

Which devotionals do you enjoy reading? What time of day do you prefer to read them?

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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Books

 

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Birthday Surprises for the Bookshelf

It’s a good feeling when your friends know just what you like. They surprised me for my birthday last week with two new books, not bestsellers or popular fiction, rather a devotional and a collection of letters by C. S. Lewis. I don’t know many other young adults who have the same taste in birthday presents, but my friends could tell those were just the presents to make me smile.

The way I see it, if I love reading (which I do) and I believe this life is followed by an eternal future (which I also do), what better material for me to read than what concerns life here on earth while keeping in mind eternity after death? This life is a blink compared to eternity, so I want to make the most of it by learning all I can about what is to come and how to get ready. Besides, if Christian faith and its theology describe the one god of the universe, the almighty creator of everything that exists, and the preserver who keeps our world spinning, there is no bigger subject for me to devote my time studying. You can’t read about anything bigger than the being who fills all of creation with his presence.

So, my friends knew any Christian-related book would probably excite me. The first book I received was Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. This devotional has short letters for each day of the year, written as if addressed to you from Jesus. I can read each day’s in a minute or two while drinking my morning tea. According to the description on Thomas Nelson’s page, Young had the idea for the book from deciding to write whatever she felt God say to her. But she isn’t imagining up the words out of nothing. She’s not like one of those “crazies” you heard about on the news who said God told them to burn down their house.

Young is a long-time missionary to communities in Japan and Australia. In a “Q & A” interview on CBN.com, Young explained how she kept a prayer journal for several years and eventually felt inspired by the book God Calling in which two anonymous women listened for God’s voice and wrote what they heard. While Jesus Calling is not Scripture, as Young warned, the daily messages still come with a curiously divine intimacy. The words give me the feeling that Jesus is sitting just next to me, speaking close by in a calm and soothing rhythm. But I don’t have to rely on what he says through Young, because each message comes with verses to look up and read for myself God’s words.

I end my reading day in bed with my next book, C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children. I’m already 90 pages into this collection and the book has just over 100 pages if you don’t count the bibliography. The reading has been so entertaining, though, that there’s a good chance I’ll be re-reading this one before long. The collection presents a sample of the thousands of letters C. S. Lewis wrote to children, who the majority of which had questions about their beloved fiction series, The Chronicles of Narnia.

I’ve always appreciated C. S. Lewis the most for his deeply theological writings, serious stuff like Mere Christianity, Miracles, or most recently The Four Loves. I saw him as an analytically minded academic who explored without fear the harder questions that face Christian faith. Letters revealed a new depth to his character I had not known. It turns out Lewis considered himself still much of a boy even after 50 years old. He answered every letter he received, including those of young fans and his god-daughter, despite the stacks of mail often would demand a significant part of every morning to read and write responses.

He wrote to the various children with affection and concern, while addressing them with the respect due to grown-ups. It amazes me that he would exchange several letters with children living across the pond in New York or Florida and take notice of details about their families, classes, and interests. This reminds me of when Jesus beckoned children to him (Matt. 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16). Lewis followed Jesus’ example to stop and take time for curious young children. He didn’t just write about faith and theorize about what it means to be a Christian. Lewis lived in the footsteps of Christ.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in Books

 

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