12 min read ⌚
Enjoying Peace in His Presence
Ready for a round of divine messages?
Because Sarah Young has 366 of them.
And she shares them in her beloved daily devotional:
Who Should Read “Jesus Calling”? And Why?
Well, it’s a given that you need to be a Christian to have any relation whatsoever to this book.
But, then again, that may also be a problem, especially if you are a Protestant strictly adhering to the sola scriptura / Solus Christus doctrines.
You’ll see why.
About Sarah Young
Sarah Young is an American Christian author.
After receiving her formal education in counseling and biblical studies from the Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Sarah worked with her husband Steve as a missionary first in Japan and then in Australia.
She has written many books so far, including Jesus Lives, Jesus Today, Jesus Always, Jesus Calling for Little Ones, Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, and Peace in His Presence, Dear Jesus, Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, etc.
However, she’s most famous for Jesus Calling, a book which has sold over 25 million copies worldwide.
“Jesus Calling PDF Summary”
Jesus Calling is a daily devotional – which means it consists of 366 messages which should help you go through every day of a calendar year while having God by your side throughout.
Consequently, it’s impossible to summarize the contents of the book.
However, it is very possible to summarize Sarah Young’s introduction which casts more than bright light on everything else you can read inside Jesus Calling.
Intimations of God #1: “Sweet Jesus”
“I first experienced the Presence of God in a setting of exquisite beauty,” writes Sarah Young in the first sentence of Jesus Calling – and you already know that this is either a deeply spiritual book written by a true believer or a somewhat quirky volume compiled by an eccentric.
(We’ll let you be the judge for now.)
Anyway, Sarah Young, the daughter of a college professor, was living and studying at a Christian community in a tiny Alpine village in France at the time and, to use her words, “was free to explore the fairyland-like environment all around” her.
And so she did.
Every day she would climb a steep heel to attain a panoramic view of “unbroken beauty,” which included everything from a high-steepled church through the sun-bathed Lake Geneva to the icy tips of the Alps.
And then, one night:
I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’ This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him. This was far more than the intellectual answers for which I’d been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe.
To tell you the truth, if we ever get the chance to experience something similar, we might just as well feel what Sarah Young felt.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Intimations of God #2: “An Overwhelming Presence”
The following year, Sarah Young went back to the United States to work as a technical writer in Virginia.
One day, her boss sent her to Atlanta to attend a relevant conference; Young accepted the assignment, but she did so without any enthusiasm or wish to go through with it.
You see, at the time, she was “grieving the loss of a serious dating relationship,” and, as you (unfortunately) know full well, it’s not like you’re interested in anything (let alone conferences) at times such as these.
In fact, in Young’s words, it was the other way around: she was even starting to wonder whether there’s any point in being a Christian or, even more, a believer.
Incapable of overcoming the solitude and the darkness of her hotel room, Young began aimlessly walking the streets of Atlanta and came across a bookshop.
She was suddenly drawn to a specific book: Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall.
Naturally, she bought it and spent the whole night reading it.
“I no longer felt alone,” she writes. “I knelt beside the bed in that sterile room and felt an overwhelming Presence of peace and love come over me. I knew Jesus was with me and that He sympathized with my heartache. This was unquestionably the same ‘Sweet Jesus’ I had met in the Alps.”
Presence-Less Sixteen Years
“During the next sixteen years,” Young goes on, “I lived what many people might consider an exemplary Christian life.”
What does this mean?
Well, first of all, earning a master’s degree in counseling and biblical studies from the Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.
There Young met her husband, Steve, a third-generation missionary to Japan.
After graduation, she joined him and spent the next eight years in Japan, doing church-planting work; in the meantime, the couple had two children: a girl and a boy.
After Japan, Steve and Sarah returned to the U.S. where they spent the next three years. While Steve was working at a local Japanese church, Sarah earned a further degree in counseling at Georgia State University.
As part of her training, she worked at a Christian counseling center in the Atlanta area.
And everything seemed perfect: Sarah had a loving husband, two delightful children, a chance to help “deeply wounded women find healing in Christ.”
“However,” she concludes, “not once during those sixteen years did I vividly experience the Presence of Jesus.”
The Beginning of a New Quest
In the summer of 1990, Sarah Young began reading a devotional book, The Secret of the Abiding Presence by Andrew Murray.
The book helped her persist through “a very unstructured time” in her life, during which Sarah underwent four surgeries (two for melanoma), had to quit her job and had to incessantly wait with her husband for approval for their Australian visas.
“In the midst of those momentous changes,” she writes, “I began seeking God’s Presence in earnest. My days started alone with God, equipped with Bible, devotional book, prayer journal, pen, and coffee. As I waited in His Presence, God began to reveal Himself to me. An hour or two alone with Him seemed too brief.”
Finally, the visas arrived, and Steve and Sarah went to Australia, where Sarah was supposed to counsel hurt and abused Australian women and introduce them to the ways of Christ.
The pain to hear these stories was almost unbearable, so Sarah prayed for protection each and every day.
One morning, as she prayed, she visualized God protecting her and her family, encircling them with His Protective Presence which materialized in the form of golden light and the feeling of profound peace. “I lost all sense of time as I experienced God’s Presence in this powerful way,” says Sarah. “I had not sought the experience, but I received it gratefully and was strengthened by it.”
There was, of course, a reason for this event: just three days later, Sarah had to counsel a client, an incest survivor, who had been abused in several Satanic rituals.
She was able to endure it all: she knew that God’s light was above her.
First Message from God
In 1992, Sarah Young began to read a book which directly influenced this one.
Titled God Calling, this was a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners” – women who decided to record the messages they had received from God.
In the book, the messages are written in the first person, as in every single “I” in God Calling designates God.
Now, back to the quotation marks around the word “listeners” above.
We wonder: if these two anonymous women were actually able to listen to God’s messages, aren’t they listeners without the quotation marks? Moreover, if they weren’t, aren’t they frauds?
Sarah didn’t ask herself these questions; and, in a way, that implies that she believes the former. So, God apparently didn’t just shut up when He finished dictating the Bible.
And this is where things get really strange!
In 1993, Sarah Young began to wonder if she could, too, receive messages during her times of communing with God.
“I had been writing in prayer journals for years,” she informs us, “but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day.”
So, Sarah decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she “believed He was saying.”
And, voilà: “I received a message,” Sarah says without even realizing what that actually means. “It was short, biblical, and appropriate. It addressed topics that were current in my life: trust, fear, and closeness to God. I responded by writing in my prayer journal.”
Now, you’ll have to agree: that’s a pretty mundane thing to do after being visited by God Himself.
Messages from God – 366 of Them (At Least)
“My journaling had changed from monologue to dialogue,” goes on Young.
“Soon, messages began to flow more freely, and I bought a special notebook to record these words. This new way of communicating with God became the high point of my day. I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God.”
A quick analysis of that paragraph:
• Apparently, if you need to record God’s words, you better use a special notebook for that (otherwise, He’d be really angry!);
• Communicating with God was the high point of Sarah Young’s days (as opposed to buying the last bar of Snickers at a vending machine, we guess? Why would anyone need to point that out ever?);
• God’s words are sometimes not as inspired as other times (apparently, God’s Muses are on strike since the days of yore – or, at least, not as inspired in English).
Jokes aside, one gets the feeling that Sarah doesn’t realize what she’s actually saying because she explicitly states that she “continued to receive personal messages from God.”
This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need. The Bible is, of course, the only inerrant Word of God; my writings must be consistent with that unchanging standard. I have written them from Jesus’ point of view; i.e., the first person singular (I, Me, Mine) always refers to Christ. ‘You’ refers to you, the reader, so the perspective is that of Jesus speaking to you.
The Jesus Calling Devotional
Now that you know how Jesus Calling came to be, it’s time that we told you a bit about its actual content,
As we said above, just like The Daily Stoic, this book is a daily devotional, which means that it consists of 366 messages, one for each day of the year, apparently each of them coming directly from God via Young.
Young also includes Scripture references after each daily reading, because, as she says, as she listened to God, “Bible verses or fragments of verses often came to mind.”
She uses some of them as epigraphs for each of the months.
If you are interested, these are the verses
The Monthly Scripture Epigraphs
• January: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
• February: “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” (Psalm 105:4)
• March: “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:4)
• April: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)
• May: “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)
• June: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
• July: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
• August: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7: 38)
• September: “. . . I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
• October: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
• November: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
• December: “For to us a child is born… And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
An Example Message
Just so that you can get the feeling of Sarah’s (or God’s) style, we’ve chosen for you an example message, the daily devotional for February 21st, the date when our first blog post was published.
Here it is, in its entirety:
Trust and thankfulness will get you safely through this day. Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining: those “sister sins” that so easily entangle you.
Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily. The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes. Thought patterns of trust become etched into your brain. Relegate troubles to the periphery of your mind, so that I can be central in your thoughts. Thus, you focus on Me, entrusting your concerns into My care.
The message is followed by three verses taken from the Bible: Colossians 2:6-7; Psalm 141:8; and 1 Peter 5:7.
Apparently, even God needs footnotes.
Key Lessons from “Jesus Calling”
1. Sarah Young Found God in Times of Distress
2. The Bible Is Inerrant – But Is It Enough?
3. Daily Messages from God
Sarah Young Found God in Times of Distress
As Sarah Young writes in the introduction to Jesus Calling, she experienced God’s Presence only in times of distress; for some reason, when things were going well, Jesus didn’t appear to her.
That’s why she has written this book: so that you can grow your love to God even when it seems that He has forgotten you.
The Bible Is Inerrant – But Is It Enough?
“The Bible is, of course, the only inerrant Word of God,” writes Sarah Young in Jesus Calling.
And yet, it seems that it wasn’t sufficient since she had to find a more personal way to communicate with God.
She even says this explicitly:
“I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.”
And she got more: daily messages from God Himself.
“I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is,” Young says, “but they were helping me grow closer to God.”
So, apparently, Jesus Calling is both more than the Bible and less than it at the same time.
Daily Messages from God
The messages from Jesus Calling “are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place,” writes Young.
“Themes of thankfulness and trust recurred often during my listening times,” she goes on. “These themes are quite prevalent in the Bible, and they are essential if we are to enjoy Jesus’ Presence and Peace.”
Consequently, most of the devotionals are written in such a manner; and they’ll probably help you if you suspense your (dis)belief for some time.
And realize that humans sometimes can help other humans in profound ways.
Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.
“Jesus Calling Quotes”Sometimes My blessings come to you in mysterious ways: through pain and trouble. Click To Tweet You can have as much of Me and My Peace as you want, through thousands of correct choices each day. The most persistent choice you face is whether to trust Me or to worry. Click To Tweet To find Me and hear My voice, you must seek Me above all else. Anything that you desire more than Me becomes an idol. Click To Tweet Tomorrow is busy worrying about itself; don’t get tangled up in its worry-webs. Trust Me one day at a time. Click To Tweet As you trust Me more and more, you are able to receive Me and My blessings abundantly. Be still, and know that I am God. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
To tell you the truth, we don’t know what to tell you about Jesus Calling.
The book is not merely #1 Best Seller in the Inspiration & Spirituality category at Amazon – it’s also one of the very few books which can boast an almost perfect 5-star rating with over 17,000 reviews.
It’s an understatement to say that it is an accomplishment when 92% of your many, many reviewers consider your book all but perfect.
And yet – as far as we are concerned – this book is nothing short of blatantly blasphemous if you are a believer or downright miraculous if you are a scientist.
As Amy Timco has noted, “I don’t think Young is proposing to add the book of Young after Revelation. But that is, in effect, what her writings are claiming.”
In other words, if Young has actually heard God, then scientists should be doing studies on her; if she hasn’t, then she’s lying (so unchristian).
As always, we are skeptics, so, 17,000 reviewers aside, we really don’t think that you should bother with this book; even if you are a believer.