In the summer of 2006, I lived in Perth Australia and taught English to Japanese and Korean internationals through Mission to the World. I worked with an American pastor and his wife: Steve and Sarah Young. Steve grew up in Japan as the son of Japanese missionaries so he was fluent in Japanese. He and Sarah planted a church in Japan and lived there during their early married life. In the early 1990's they moved to Australia and began working with Asian internationals there.
Sarah wrote and published Jesus Calling in the year before I met her and my mom found it and gave it to me as a gift before I left for Perth. Little did I know that this book would be one of the greatest resources that I have experienced thus far in my life. Sarah describes the writing style herself: "My journaling had changed from monolouge to dialouge...I have written them [the journal entries] from Jesus' point of view; i.e. the first person singular (I, Me, Mine) always refers to Christ. "You" refers to you, the reader, so the perspective is that of Jesus speaking to you. I have included Scripture references after each daily reading."
Read an interview with Sarah here.
This style was revolutionary for me: my relationship with the Lord took on a different tone. I began to see problems as opportunities for growth and view obstacles as chances to rely on the Lord instead of myself. The concept of "listening" to Jesus and writing down what you "hear" was a jump for me in the beginning. I have grown up believing that the Bible is the holy, inspired and inerrant word of God--and I still believe this. However, I have also expanded my views enough to take God out of a box and realize that he still communicates to his children, even today. (John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.") Sarah explains her journey with listening:
"Let me begin with some cautions. It's essential to remember that the Bible is the only infallible record of God's speaking. Always subordinate your personal listening to absolute biblical truth. If something you "hear" is inconsistent with biblical teaching, don't write it down–it's not from God. New Christians, especially, need to be cautious about listening to God in this way. I had been a Christian for 20 years before I began this practice. On the other hand, believers are instructed to "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). I believe there is immense value in learning to wait quietly in God's Presence. For me, the main benefit has been coming to know God intimately, rather than simply knowing about Him. This has increased my love for Him, my trust in Him and His unfailing love (Psalm 13:5), and my awareness of His Presence with me always (Matthew 28:20)."
The book is formatted with a reading for each day of the year with a theme verse for each month. The daily readings are short, but for me they are the perfect length. It gives you just enough material to be able to remember and really reflect on a concept for that day.
In this new year, I hope you will consider purchasing this book and going through it. This will be my fifth year to read through it--and I still learn something new every day.
Read some excerpts here.