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Jesus Calling: An Interview with Sarah Young

Sarah YoungThe beloved #1 bestselling devotional Jesus Calling® is now available in a morning and evening edition, allowing you to meditate on the hope and peace of Jesus throughout each day and as the evening draws to a close. Each morning entry is from Jesus Calling and each evening includes powerful and poignant excerpts from Sarah’s bestselling books, written-out Scriptures, and a guided thought for you to focus on just before you turn out the light.

Based on Scripture and written as if Jesus himself is speaking directly to you—words of encouragement, comfort, and reassurance of his unending love—you will find peace even in the midst of busy days. Begin and end each day in the presence of the Savior who is always with you and loves you forever.

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Bible Gateway interviewed Sarah Young (@Jesus_Calling) about her book, Jesus Calling—Morning & Evening Devotional (Thomas Nelson, 2015).

Buy your copy of Jesus Calling—Morning & Evening Devotional in the Bible Gateway Store

Jesus Calling has sold more than 14 million copies, and its popularity continues to grow. Why do you think that so many people connect with the message?

Sarah Young: My books tend to speak to different people in different ways, meeting them right where they are. I think that’s because the books help people connect with Jesus, and He meets us right where we are.

Since I became a Christian in 1973, I’ve received excellent biblical teaching at the churches I’ve belonged to and the seminary I attended. My books reflect the richness of this wonderful Christ-centered teaching. They are designed to help people connect not only with Jesus, the living Word, but also with the Bible, the written Word.

You’ve talked about the importance of listening prayer. How do you go about deepening your relationship with Jesus through prayer?

Sarah Young: A rich relationship with Jesus is so much more than presenting Him with a list of requests.

Jesus speaks to my heart when I spend ample time with Him. Of course, we don’t have audible conversation. It’s a quiet and personal time of praying, Bible reading, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

By reading my Bible and spending time quietly with the Lord—listening and then writing what I feel He is placing on my heart—I grow closer to Him.

I have an active mind; in fact, my husband has commented—with some consternation—that I never stop thinking. When I have a pen in my hand and paper in front of me, I can think more clearly and stay focused on Jesus more continually. I like to take notes at church during the sermon for the same reason. It keeps me focused.

How do you use the Bible in your daily prayer and quiet time with Jesus?

Sarah Young: The Bible is the standard by which I judge everything I write. I actually spend a good deal of time memorizing Scripture and reviewing it in my mind—day and night.

One of my favorite verses, ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46:10), provided a foundation for my listening/writing adventure. But the verse that continues to challenge me daily is: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding’ (Prov. 3:5).

How would you describe the role of Jesus Calling?

Sarah Young: Jesus Calling is for devotional reading, and it points readers to the Bible. The Scripture readings provided for each day are an integral part of the devotional. Many people have told me they read not only the verses I include with each entry but also a chapter or more around the verses I specified. I’m always happy to hear this from readers.

Could you describe the practice of writing from the perspective of Jesus speaking to the reader?

Sarah Young: In the introductions to my books, I emphasize that the Bible is the only inspired Word of God; it’s the unchanging standard by which I judge everything I write. When I first began listening and writing from Jesus’ perspective, it was solely for my personal benefit. However, in the midst of a spiritual retreat several years later, I felt strongly led to write for publication. I began compiling the messages into daily readings and sharing them with friends who shared them with others. It was many years later that Jesus Calling was actually published.

J.I. Packer’s book, Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight, has been helpful to me. This book contains a wonderful quote from Martin Luther: “If the Holy Spirit should come and begin to preach to your heart, giving you rich and enlightened thoughts, . . . be quiet and listen to him who can talk better than you; and note what he proclaims and write it down; so will you experience miracles as David says: ‘Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law’ (Ps. 119:18).”

In previous interviews, you’ve talked about how your health struggles influenced your writing. How have those health issues changed your lifestyle, and how do you cope with those issues today?

Sarah Young: I have struggled with extremely challenging health issues for 12 years. I’ve been diagnosed with two co-infections of Lyme disease, and I’ve had quite a bit of treatment for those. In October 2008, the day after I finished writing Jesus Lives: Seeing His Love in Your Life I had a severe attack of vertigo. Since that time, I’ve had a milder, chronic form of dizziness that has never gone away. I continue to be weak and to struggle with various symptoms. However, my energy level has been improving in recent weeks, and I’ve been able to do more than I’d done for years.

From the perspective of a healthy person, my life may seem quite limited. I have many dietary restrictions and allergies; I need much more rest and sleep than most adults. However, after living in one room in our home in Perth for about 20 hours a day, my current life feels amazingly free to me. I hope that my health will continue to improve, but I know there are no guarantees in this life. I also know that God has used my hardest times for good. I could not have written Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence if I had been healthier. The writing of this book helped me grasp in the depths of my being that Jesus is my hope, and he is sufficient.

Can you share a few books that have made an impact on you and explain why?

Sarah Young: Escape from Reason by Francis Schaeffer
During my philosophy studies at Wellesley College, I’d concluded that my questions about truth and the meaning of life were unanswerable. In Schaeffer’s book I was amazed to discover answers to many of these questions; this set me on a journey that led to L’Abri, where I became a Christian.

Joy Unspeakable by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Lloyd-Jones’ book gave me a taste of what it means to rejoice in Jesus with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This book whet my appetite to pursue God wholeheartedly; thus began my quest to experience Him in His glory.

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Tozer’s book taught me how to thirst for and find a deeper, more satisfying relationship with God. It encouraged me to long for Him intensely and to listen for “His speaking Voice.”

The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence by Andrew Murray
Murray’s book emphasized the importance of developing awareness of Jesus’ continual presence through spending time alone with Him. As I pondered the readings in this devotional book, I began to delight in spending more time with God at the beginning of each day.

The Joy of Listening to God by Joyce Huggett
In Huggett’s book she interwove her personal journey with a wealth of practical teaching about how to listen to God. She emphasized the importance of listening to Him while testing everything by the yardstick of His Word.

Heaven by Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni’s book kindled my longing for heaven and helped me connect this longing with my desire for intimacy with Jesus. Heaven became increasingly real and precious to me through this book—helping me see my difficulties in the light of eternity.

Bio: Sarah Young’s devotional writings are personal reflections from her daily quiet time of Bible reading, praying, and writing in prayer journals. With sales of more than 14 million books worldwide, Jesus Calling® has appeared on all major bestseller lists. Sarah’s writings include Jesus Calling, Jesus Today® Jesus Lives, Dear Jesus, Jesus Calling® for Little Ones, Jesus Calling® Bible Storybook, Jesus Calling®: 365 Devotions for Kids, and Jesus Calling®: Enjoying Peace in His Presence—each encouraging readers in their journey toward intimacy with Christ. Sarah and her husband were missionaries in Japan and Australia for many years. They currently live in the United States.

Filed under Books, Devotionals, Interviews