Your will—not mine—be done.
Katie tugged on her final stitch and broke the thread with her teeth,
hoping with everything in her that Faith’s words were true:
His will . . . the path to our highest pleasure.
— Katie O’Connor, A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman
I know, I know … I’ve been talking an awful lot about “God’s will lately, but that’s because after sixty-two long, stubborn years, I have FINALLY learned that, indeed, His will IS the path to our highest pleasure.
Ironically, it’s been something I’ve been writing about in my books since the very beginning, making sure it was a lesson the O’Connor family learned over and over again. (Oh, and speaking of the O’Connors, at the end of this post, be sure to check out the final montage that Salyna did for the entire O’Connor clan, which has a different Patrick O’Connor that I LOVE!!).
Anyway, doing things God’s way is something I’ve believed whole-heartedly from the moment I first embraced a personal relationship with Jesus at the age of twenty-three. Whole-heartedly, yes, and with all of my mind too. But emotionally? Well, I thought so … until I went on my May fast to seek God’s direction for my writing. Suddenly, it became crystal clear that my will was butting heads with God’s and I didn’t even fully realize it.
Now, I can honestly say with everything in me that His will IS the path to my highest pleasure because God knows my will has wrought nothing but heartache and disappointment. And can I just tell you what an absolute skin-tingling freedom it is to want His will instead of my own? Talk about a spiritual 4th of July!!
So, how’d it happen, you want to know? Well, it wasn’t fast because I’ve been praying about God’s will for my writing for five years now, both on my own and with my prayer partners. But the will is a tricky thing, especially for Christians because on the outside we are saying, doing and believing all the right things, but on the inside? Hate to say it, but most of us are (or at least I was) all about gritted teeth and white-knuckled grips on the things we want God to do—our own personal “will checklist,” be it the type of job we want, the relationships we want, the type of success we crave, and so on.
Oh sure, I would always pray for God’s will, but deep down inside, I hoped and prayed it coincided with mine and when it didn’t? I was ticked, troubled, and totally depressed, not exactly banner boosters for one’s faith in God. So, as many of you know, I fasted something very important to me—people approval through emails and good reviews—by fasting Amazon and emails for a solid month. At the same time, I read two books as daily devotionals, reading a page or two everyday. The two books were Catherine Marshall’s Beyond Our Selves—absolutely one of the MOST incredible books I’ve ever read and HIGHLY recommend, and Anita Higman’s Where God Finds You, a wonderful daily devotional as seen through the perspective of Bible characters.
God used these two books to open my eyes to—along with my daily Bible reading, of course—the bottom line in having a solid and joyful faith. Which is?
It’s all about Him—and His will for us—not about us or our will.
And you want to know why? Because as Mrs. Gerson basically said in A Passion Most Pure, God is like Milton Bradley—He made the game of life and in order to win, you have to play by His rules (His will). Not because he wants to lord it over us, pun intended, but because He loves us and knows that His will is the path to our highest pleasure.
Does your faith feel stymied, shallow, as if your relationship with God is a wee bit long-distance like mine did? Then I encourage you to go deeper with a month-long fast of something you love (maybe even love a little too much!) such as chocolate or Starbuck cinnamon dolce lattes or if you’re an author, then Amazon, as in my case. My husband does not like me to fast dinner, and I don’t eat lunch, so food is not really an option for me, but for some of you it can be. They say it only takes 30 days to make or break a habit, and I have to say that in my experience, that has been true. I no longer am obsessed with Amazon and rarely go there anymore, which has not only been SUCH a freedom, but it’s drawn me closer to His will by changing the bad habits of mine.
And while you’re doing your month-long fast? I encourage you to pray about what books God would have you read during that month as far as devotionals. I HIGHLY recommend Beyond Ourselves, but there are so many others that have drawn me closer to Him as well such as The Well by Mark Hall, pastor and lead singer of Casting Crowns, the N.Y. Times Bestseller One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp, or Anita’s wonderful devotional mentioned above. Mind you, they don’t have to be actual devotionals—I generally take a normal book like Beyond Ourselves and read a page or two everyday. Give it a shot—you’ll be amazed at just HOW much God speaks to you and draws you near.
August 30 – September 12!
WHOO-HOO … one of my VERY creative reader friends put together celebrity collages for each of my books, choosing who she thought the characters would look like. These two week’s featured books are A Love Surrendered (August 30 – September 5) and A Light in the Window (September 6 – 13), so check out which celebrities she chose at Kissed Books Blog!
August 30 – September 12!
It’s Open Mic night at Southern Writers Magazine, and I am up, so be sure to check it out, then head on over to the Take Five section of the magazine’s website to hear me read (more like stumble through) my favorite romantic scene from my atest book, Love at Any Cost. And just for fun, if you can find the two word mess-ups I made while reading the excerpt, let me know through the “Contact Julie” tab of this website, and I’ll toss your name in the hat for your choice of any of my books. Good luck and be sure to check out all the cool tabs at Southern Writers Magazine’s website!
Hugs and Happy Labor Day Weekend!