Friday, October 22, 2010
When did you decide to be a writer?
As a little girl, I loved to make up stories and share them. Writing assignments were always my favorite part of school. But as an adult, I didn’t have the confidence or courage to pursue creative writing. It was just something I fantasized about until my mid-forties when I began writing occasional articles for my church’s newsletter. Urged by a friend, I attended a writers’ conference asking God to show me if writing was His will for me or my own self-centered dream. He answered clearly that week, and I’ve never doubted my calling since then.
What was your first published piece?
When I attended that first conference in 1999, I’d never thought of writing devotionals. But I set up an appointment with the editor from Warner Press after she spoke on a panel. I showed her a one-page piece I’d written about a lesson from my cat and she said I might be a natural devotional writer. I applied and was accepted as a Master Writer for the company and got to submit ten devotionals each year for use on the back of church bulletins.
Since then, you’ve published three daily devotional books. What do you find most rewarding about writing devotions?
Tell us a little about your latest devotional book.
This month Baker Books released my new one-year devotional book, Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture. Each devotional is based on a question asked by someone in the Bible—God, Jesus, Satan, an Old Testament character, or a New Testament writer. The meditation explores the setting, ties it into a spiritual principle or practical application, and includes a verse that relates back to the question or its answer. The day’s entry closes with either a question for readers to ask God (prayer focus) or a question to ask themselves (reflection).
How did you get the idea for Drawing Closer to God?
I began noticing how much of Scripture is in the form of questions and how relevant these still are today. Old Testament characters voiced honest questions that we’ve all probably felt at some point. But we may have been reluctant to pray as David did, “Why are you so distant, Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) New Testament writers used questions to explain spiritual principles, especially Paul. Jesus asked questions as a powerful teaching tool, sometimes gently: “Can any of you add an hour to your life by worrying?” (Luke 12:25), and sometimes with a stronger tone: "Why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)
Many questions in the Bible can be matched with a verse that answers it. Before Pilate asked the universal question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), Jesus had already answered it as he prayed: “Your words are truth.” (John 17:17) As we go through trials and hardships, we may wonder as Gideon did, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13) Then we read in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.”
The more I studied these questions, the more I was struck by how much God communicates to us through them. It intrigued me to think that sometimes we can find answers by looking at the questions.
Did writing Drawing Closer to God impact your own spiritual life?
Yes, the fact that biblical characters expressed their questions and doubts so honestly reminded me of how God wants me to approach my relationship with him. Now when I see a question in the Bible, I think of it as a springboard to look for what God wants me to discuss with Him or what He wants to teach me. I’m in the process of pulling out a core list of questions from the book to use in my quiet time. I want to periodically go through them as a sort of spiritual check-up to assess my spiritual walk and keep my focus where it should be.
Are there certain Scriptural questions that proved especially meaningful for you?
Yes, I often need to remind myself of Genesis 18:14: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Even though I know the answer, sometimes I forget it in the face of daunting circumstances. And Jesus’ question about worrying (Luke 12:25) is something I should meditate on every day. Maybe I won’t waste so much time doing it if I remember His point about how futile worrying is.
What is the main thing you hope readers take away from this book?
My prayer is that the book will renew readers’ appreciation for the relevance of Scripture to everyday life. If we approach the Bible with a teachable spirit, then God’s Spirit will use the questions written so long ago to comfort us, convict us, and transform us. I also hope that the devotionals will encourage readers to feel comfortable examining their own questions through meditation and prayer.
Are you working on a new project?
I’m currently writing another daily devotional for Baker. This one is still untitled but it has a theme of a one-year “journey” through the Bible. I’m going through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation combining basic information on each book, the major stories and events, and the core teachings with practical application. The book will release in October 2012.
Thank you, Dianne, for sharing this new devotional with us.
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