Read an excerpt.
Q & A with Sarah Young
Young was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew up in the South. After
graduating from college she made four trips to Europe in less than five
years. During her fourth trip, she became a Christian at L'Abri Fellowship
in a tiny Alphine village in France. With a degree in philosophy from
Wellesley College, Sarah also holds graduate degrees in psychology/counseling
from Tufts University, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Georgia State
She met her husband Steve at Covenant Seminary. They are employed by
Mission to the World and have worked in various sites in Japan and Australia,
planting Japanese churches and counseling. Steve and Sarah currently minister
to Japanese people living in Perth, Western Australia.
How did you learn to "dialogue" with God?
My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written
in the 1930's by two women who practiced waiting in God's Presence, writing
the messages they received as they "listened." About a year
after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive
messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in
prayer journals for years, but this was one-way communication: "monologue."
I knew that God communicates through the Bible (and I treasure His Word),
but I wondered what He might say to me personally on a given day. So I
decided to "listen" to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever
I sensed He was saying. Of course, I wasn't listening for an audible voice;
I was seeking the "still, small voice" of God in my mind/heart.
How awkward was it initially to begin a "dialogue"
It felt a little awkward the first time I tried it, but I did receive
a short message. The content was biblical, and it addressed themes that
were current in my life: trust, fear, and closeness to God. I responded
by writing in my journal as usual; at that point my journaling changed
from monologue to dialogue. Day by day, messages began to flow more freely.
This new way of communicating with God became the high point of my day.
I knew that my writings were not inspired (as only Scripture is), but
they were helping me grow closer to our living Lord.
What would you tell someone who wants to begin "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).
Can you describe how you actually go about listening to God?
Whenever I move to a new home, I look for a place where I can meet God
in quiet communion. That becomes my sanctuary for listening to Him. Before
I begin, I pray for protection of my mind from distractions, distortions,
and deception. I ask that I will hear only the voice of Jesus, yet every
single word He wants me to hear. Then I simply pray, "Help me, Holy
Spirit," and I listen. Eventually, I "hear" a phrase or
sentence, and I write it down. As I listen and write, I continue asking
for the Holy Spirit's help. I also thank Jesus for the message as I receive
it from Him. I may take short breaks from listening, to read what I've
already written. I try to relax and enjoy Jesus' Presence, not becoming
overly focused on writing. Scripture often comes to mind, and I write
that in whatever version I remember it.
Share a memorable experience when you began listening to God
with pen in hand.
I began my listening-writing adventure while living in Melbourne, Australia.
Soon after beginning this practice, I had a routine medical check-up that
led to scheduling a hysterectomy. During that uncertain time of awaiting
surgery, I was comforted by messages gleaned from listening to God. I
wondered whether I would be able to receive messages in the hospital,
but I packed my journal and took it with me. To my delight, I was able
to "listen" to Jesus in the hospital as readily as in my home.
Because of post-op complications, I was in and out of the hospital for
three weeks, but God's precious messages continued flowing into my journal.
This helped me stay close to Jesus throughout that tumultuous time.
What are some of the most important truths you have learned from
I'll list a few: 1) Thankfulness is a source of deep joy and rich blessing;
it changes my perspective and helps me draw closer to God. 2) Though my
natural tendency is to analyze and try to figure things out, trusting
Jesus is a far better way to live. I've realized how very limited my understanding
is. 3) When I turn to God in my weakness, I receive His help and compassion
in abundant measure. 4) Peace is inherent in Jesus' Presence; so the nearer
I live to Him, the more I enjoy His peace. 5) God sees His children clothed
in the perfect righteousness of Jesus. 6) Nothing can separate us from
Jesus' love. 7) There is, indeed, "fullness of joy" in His Presence
(Psalm 16:11 NKJV).
How have your studies in philosophy and counseling helped you
in your walk with God?
When I majored in philosophy at Wellesley, I was a non-Christian searching
for truth. Each time I began studying a new philosophy I'd get excited,
thinking this one might end my quest. However, further study always revealed
flaws. Eventually, I became disillusioned and concluded there was no absolute
truth. A few years later, though, when I read Francis Schaeffer's Escape
from Reason, my background in philosophy helped me to understand
his reasoning. I found in that book answers to questions I had previously
considered unanswerable. This opened the way for me to study at L'Abri,
a Christian community begun by the Schaeffers. While living and studying
there, I became a Christian.
My counseling studies helped me deal with deep woundedness from my past.
As I forgave and healed, I experienced a new freedom to grow spiritually.
It was as if old blockages had been removed, enabling me to open up to
God more fully. This was a necessary step along the path to intimacy with
Jesus. My studies in counseling also equipped me to help other wounded
people: an avenue of ministry that I value highly.
Read an excerpt of Jesus
Calling by Sarah Young.
Courtesy of The B & B Media Group.
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