Review: Jesus Calling

Feeling frazzled? Need a quick break? Having a hard time getting your mind off your “to-do” list and onto God? Or, could you just use a big hug right about now?

A while ago, I mentioned that some wonderful friends had gotten together and bought me a copy of Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young (published by Thomas Nelson). As the subtitle explains, it’s a year-long devotional centered on “Enjoying peace in His presence.” Ten minutes with this book (and maybe a cup of tea) will help you calm down, refocus, and remember that God is with you always.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of devotionals. I’d rather read the Bible. I want to hear clearly what the Holy Spirit tells me though Scripture, without it being filtered through someone else.

As I read Jesus Calling, I’m revising that opinion. I’m learning that while a devotional doesn’t ever replace the Bible, it can be a helpful companion. Somehow, perhaps in the way Young’s gentle tone quiets my spirit, God’s voice comes through to me. It’s like sitting down with a wise friend for some reassurance and encouragement.

The book is the result of Young’s own spiritual journey, learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and writing down what she heard God speaking to her. As she says in the introduction, “My journaling had changed from monologue to dialogue. … I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God.”

As you might have guessed from the title, the book is written as if Jesus Himself were speaking. Let me give you an example. The devotional for today, May 29, starts out:

I am with you, watching over you constantly. I am Emmanuel; My Presence enfolds you in radiant love. Nothing, including the brightest blessings and the darkest trials, can separate you from Me.

I love that Young lists pertinent Bible passages at the end of each page. In this case, she is drawing from Matthew 1:23 and Colossians 2:6-7. All her writings jibe with scripture, an important test.

Jesus Calling isn’t meant to cover all aspects of our relationship with God. It’s very focused on God’s peace, love, and presence with us. In the process of writing this post, I can across another blogger (Ryan, at “Rumblings”) who correctly pointed out the devotional’s shortcomings.

Still, I encourage you to pick up a copy* of Jesus Calling for yourself, and add it to your daily time with God. But even more, I hope it inspires you. God yearns to speak to all of us, not just Sarah Young. Whether you listen with pen in hand, at a keyboard, or just with your “inner ears,” take time to hear what God is saying to you. To quote the text from May 3, “The Joy of living in My Presence outshines all other pleasures.”

Do you read devotionals? Which ones would you recommend?

* There’s even a Jesus Calling app available.

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