You Don’t Have to Write Devotionals

I follow the Facebook page of someone who is not a household name, but is well known in certain circles. I don’t know her personally, but she and her husband have ministered to my family for decades. She writes of her husband’s declining health, the decisions that need to be made about his care, memories of their life and ministry together, funny stories from the past and present, etc. I’ve been thankful for her transparency, the way God has used her family, and the way He provides for her in myriad ways now.

In one post, however, she lamented talking about herself too much. The next day, she posted lessons from a passage of Scripture.

I had never thought of any of her previous posts as talking about herself too much. I had been encouraged to see God’s hand in her life and the strength and grace He gave her. While I hope I never have to walk the road she is on, her example taught me that God will help if He calls me to that. She reminded me that a life used and blessed by God is not always an easy one and that shining moments occur along the way.

Devotionals are good. Bible studies are good. I’ve been blessed and helped by both.

But I’ve also been blessed and helped by seeing God’s hand at work in someone’s everyday life.

A couple of my favorite bloggers, who, sadly, are no longer blogging, had what I called homemaking blogs. Their blogs weren’t how-to articles. The ladies just shared what was going on in their lives, but their spirit showed through and instructed me. They talked about the Lord in a natural way as part of everything they did.

I was startled to realize recently that Jesus didn’t say, “Be a light to the world.” He said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14a). If we’re believing Him, obeying Him, walking with Him, His light will shine through us.

I’ve shared a few times before an incident found in Isobel Kuhn’s book, Second Mile People:

Isobel shared that at a certain Bible conference, she met a sweet, winsome girl named Dorothy. Isobel was not yet a believer, and Dorothy hoped to speak to her about the Lord. But when they took a walk together, Dorothy didn’t get a chance to share, and she felt like a failure. Isobel wrote later that Dorothy was

unconscious that the one she had hoped to help was going away enchanted with this glimpse into the very human sweetness of this Christlike girl. ‘…I felt His Presence when you laughed just now….’ The Spirit-filled life cannot ‘fail’, it is fruitful even when it may seem least to have done anything. That walk gave Dorothy ‘influence’ over me when a ‘sermon’ would have created a permanent barrier. In fact at that time I carried a mental suit of armour all ready to slip on quietly the moment any ‘old fogey’ tried to ‘preach’ at me!”

Oswald Chambers says, ‘The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies of the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly.’ A great mistake is to think that a Spirit-filled man or woman must always be casting sermons at people. Being ‘filled with the Spirit’ (which is a first qualification of Second Mile People) is merely a refusing of self and a taking by faith of the life of Christ as wrought in us by His Holy Spirit. “We must take the Spirit’s fullness, as we take our salvation, by faith in God’s promise that He is given to us.”

This isn’t saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary,” as is often mistakenly attributed to Francis of Assisi. Not only did Francis not say this, but it’s an unscriptural idea. The very gospel is words, words Jesus wants us to share with others. Later in Isobel’s book, Dorthy did get to share the gospel with her more clearly, at a time when Isobel was ready to receive it.

But those words don’t always have to be in the form of a “lesson.” If we walk with the Lord, His Spirit will fill us and infuse everything we do.

God can use those gifted at unfolding truths from Scripture in ways that help others understand.

But God also uses any kind of writing or speaking that testifies of His working in our lives, acknowledging His provision, protection, fellowship. When someone tells of how God met their need or manifested Himself to them in some way, I’m drawn in.

I have known some people like Dorothy who seem to reflect Christ and carry a “sense of Him” in everything they do, every word, action, and attitude. Something of Him shines through even when they are talking about everyday activities. That only comes from spending much time with Him in His Word and prayer and being filled with His Spirit.

May I live so close to Him that people always sense His presence.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

23 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Write Devotionals

  1. Barbara, I am so grateful you share your thoughts. The Isobel Kuhn and Oswald Chambers quotes are powerful ones! Praying this morning for my life to be a light in all I do this week.

  2. I agree that I have gained/”caught” far more from just ordinary people than from those specifically trying to be devotional etc. … appreciate these thoughtful insights!

  3. So good! The example of real people living their everyday lives in ways that glorify God is very powerful. I’ve often been far more ready to hear a teaching or challenge from someone who LIVES for the Lord than those who speak or write eloquently but whom I don’t know.

  4. I appreciate what you shared here. We were discussing this very idea in my Monday morning zoom prayer pod yesterday. I’m going to share this with them. Thanks for being part of an already-happening conversation!

  5. Wonderful post. I’ve heard so often that often we are the only Gospel that others encounter. It is good to use words but there are times when the Jesus in people speaks even louder.

  6. I think we all love this post, Barbara! We wouldn’t want to have conversations with others if all they ever did was talk like a devotional; we need personal details and also their real life stuff that they’re struggling with and haven’t yet overcome. And yes to needing words. While I certainly love and appreciate acts of service, my top love language remains words of affirmation.

  7. Barbara, what a beautiful post … so much truth. Sometimes we feel the pressure to share the gospel in some profound way when it’s God and His Spirit working in us who is truly profound! I loved your point that Jesus said we are the light not to try to be the light. That’s a thought worth meditating on. Blessings!

  8. What an encouragement to me this morning (if not a bit of a rebuke as well….I find myself far too often concerned with “the words”) and that last line sums it all up so beautifully! “May I live so close to Him that people always sense His presence.” A prayer for all of us –

  9. Barbara, I love this so much (which I’m guessing does not surprise you a bit)! If writing devotionals is the best way for someone to communicate God’s truth, that’s wonderful. Like you, though, I’m drawn to bloggers who share honestly from their lives—what they’re learning, how God is moving, what aspects of HIs character are helping them through each moment. It’s good to remember that we don’t have to “be” a light, as if it’s something we turn off and on, but that we already “are” lights if Christ is within us.

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  12. Such wise words! As a teen, Isobel Kuhn was one of my favorite missionaries to read. Her words and those of Oswald Chambers were so true, as was the next paragraph about “Use words.if necessary.” Thanks for your sharing and insights. Oh, to know from the Spirit’s guidance when to speak and when to let our life speak and love the one we desire to know Him.

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