Grace A. Johnson
I Hate Devotionals...But I Wrote One Anyway
Hate is a very strong word, I know. I’d have much rather used a different term, but “I Do Not Necessarily Enjoy Reading Devotionals...But I Wrote One Anyway” is a bit too long and clunky in my opinion. Not quite as clickbait-y either, eh?
The truth is, though, that I don’t necessarily enjoy reading devotionals or Christian self-help books. I spent a great deal of my childhood reading daily devos, jotting my thoughts down in Bible study guides, and struggling to glean something from the many books I read. Although each book had its merit, and the messages would no doubt be of benefit to someone, there was nothing in it for me. I wasn’t going to school and being bullied and having crushes on my cute classmates. I wasn’t going to college and dating and planning the rest of my life. After all, I was a ten-year-old homeschool girl who never left the house and only associated with her siblings.
Suffice to say that the specific focus all these devotionals had on school and grades and cheating on tests and stealing from the vending machine just didn’t fit me. I had a hard time learning anything; I wasn’t urged to get into the Word; and I never felt a connection to any of the material I read.
Then I read the Bible, and it spoke to me—not to the average middle-school girl or college-age woman. It was truth instead of opinions; Gospel instead of philosophy; reality instead of ideas.
So I never picked up a devotional again, and I don’t regret that decision for a minute.
Now, I’m not saying that devotionals are all evil and that if you read one, you’re a horrible Christian. I’m just saying that devotionals aren’t perfect. They can’t take the place of the Bible. They can’t take the place out of personal prayer. They can’t take the place of your own faith, your own salvation, and your own relationship with God.
The same goes for sermons and counselors and commentaries and spiritual growth books and all the Bible stories your grandmother told you.
Nothing can take the place of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling, just as Paul told the church of Philippi in Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”
You can’t rely on man’s doctrine or teachings to satisfy your soul. You can’t rely on the faith of another person to account for your salvation.
And that’s the idea God laid on my heart when He asked me to—you guessed it—write a devotional. As much as I would have loved to write this with a girl like me in mind, I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t write it for homeschoolers. I couldn’t write it for teenagers. I couldn’t write it for girls with the same thoughts and feelings and ideas as me.
I mean, I could, but then I’d have to specify that it was a devotional intended for a very specific demographic and, if you didn’t fit that criteria, you wouldn’t glean anything from my messages. And I may just do that one day and see if there actually is some merit to such a niche devotional, but not this time.
This time, I knew this devotional had to be for everyone. It couldn’t be my own life story and lessons learned. It couldn’t be my rants on certain doctrines. It couldn’t be my scattered thoughts on one or two Scriptures.
It had to be universal, Biblical truth. It had to be a prompt rather than a pacifier, an inspiration to get readers into the Word, into prayer, into time spent with their Heavenly Father.
This is the point of my devotional—not to tell readers how they ought to live or to supply them with all that they need as Christians, but to spur them to dig deeper into the Word and rely upon God's teachings rather than man's.
With Fear and Trembling isn’t perfect. It won’t answer all your questions or help you in every aspect of your life. In fact, that’s not what devotionals are for (learned that the hard way, I did). They’re not a supplement or a substitute for the Word of God and your relationship with Him—they’re simply a side dish of sorts to motivate you to examine your heart and your walk with Christ, to encourage you and remind you of what’s already in Scripture.
It makes me so happy when readers mention reading my devotional during their Bible time—something I never did, because I had devotionals all wrong. (And, let’s face it, some devos are pretty discriminatory. What about the minority here, people? C’mon!) It’s my hope and prayer that this devotional is for y’all what devos never were for me...something you can relate to and learn from rather than something that bores you or goes over (or perhaps under) your head! The Lord has led me to Scriptures and truths that apply to everyone at any stage of their walk with God, and I pray that you will indeed be touched by the messages God has shared with us! It was my honor and pleasure to write about what He’s already shown us in His Word!
In the end, I hope y’all don’t hate (or not necessarily enjoy reading) this devotional! In fact, With Fear and Trembling releases TODAY! If you've preordered a Kindle copy, it'll show up on your Kindle app or device immediately, and if you've preordered a signed print copy from me, I'll be getting those shipped out to y'all in a couple weeks!
For those who haven't preordered...you can now purchase a Kindle copy or paperback copy from Amazon! (Hoping to do a hardcover copy, but we'll see!) Just click the button below!
I hope y'all will get a chance to read and enjoy this devotional! In fact, if you share one of the graphics below on social media and comment with the link to your post, you'll be entered to win a free e-copy of it!
Just right click to save or drag and drop!
Plus, I'm giving away THREE e-copies to my newsletter subscribers at the beginning of May, so if you're a subscriber, you just might find a copy drifting into your inbox in a week or so! If you're not a subscriber yet, don't worry! I do a new giveaway every month, so you can join today for a chance to win all sorts of awesome bookish goodies!
Thank you all - especially my AH-MAY-ZING beta readers - for being a part of this journey and for pouring so much love and inspiration into this devotional! Your support means the world to me, you guys, and I can't wait to release more books alongside y'all!
yours in spirit and script,
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