Today, I’m excited to share that my new book, In All Things: A Nine-Week Devotional Bible Study on Unshakeable Joy , officially releases. Yay!
I always like to know the reason for a book, so I thought I’d share a little bit about how this book came to be written. In a similar way to Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, this new book came about because of a friendship.
Nine years ago, I was walking along the streets of Prague, Czech Republic, with my friend Shanna. Our main goal was shopping—we were on the hunt for a pair of perfectly fitting jeans. While that didn’t happen (does it ever?), we did share some rather hilarious moments in the dressing room. Nothing bonds a friendship like laughing uncontrollably while trying to squeeze into jeans next to each other.
As we roamed the streets, our conversation quickly shifted to our personal lives. Shanna lives in Prague with her husband, Phil, and their three children. They moved there 13 years ago—far from family and friends—to plant a church and share their faith with others. Even though Prague has a rich Christian history, it’s currently one of the most atheistic cities in Europe. (The picture with my kids is in front of a statue of John Huss, a reformation leader who was martyred for his faith.)
Shanna was hoping to gather on a regular basis with some women she’d met through her children’s school to study the book of Philippians together. However, she couldn’t find a study she thought would work for those in her group. She casually looked over at me while we were getting in the car and asked, “Will you help me? Will you write some questions on the book of Philippians for me?”
I wasn’t really sure what type of questions I might come up with, but I said yes. How could I not? She’d moved her entire family overseas to share Jesus with others. I figured I could spend some time writing up a few questions for her group of women.
As it turned out, I couldn’t just write a few questions. I wrote an entire study. And the more I studied, the more I came to love the book of Philippians. Her simple request is the reason In All Things came to be written.
It’s always interesting to me how the Lord weaves parts of our story together without us knowing what he is doing. I didn’t realize at the time how much the book of Philippians would intersect with my studies on coveting and contentment. While coveting is what happens when our desires sour, contentment flows from our desires being set upon the right and best thing: Jesus. And, it’s in Philippians where we see so beautifully how Paul’s life was fixed on one grand desire:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:7-11)
At the same time the Lord was weaving together what I was studying, he was also weaving together my friendship with Shanna. Even though we live so far apart, our shared ministry lives bonded us together. (If you’re ever in Prague, join them for worship at Faith Community Church.)
Each summer when they’d come home for a visit, we’d spend equal parts laughing and crying. The verse we repeated back to one another in difficult times was Isaiah 58:11: “And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
Life is full of scorched places. Shanna and I have walked through them together. We’ve seen the Lord satisfy our desires in places of longing, hardship, betrayal, and pain. He has allowed joy and grief to walk side by side and both be true—not in opposition to one another.
Studying Philippians has shown me that joy isn’t something we produce on our own. It’s not the result of an easy and care-free life (those don’t exist on this side of heaven). Joy is a Spirit-filled assurance of God’s goodness and grace that overflows into satisfaction and delight.
Paul’s contentment in all things was sourced by God’s sufficiency in all things:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11-13)
I hope you’ll find In All Things helpful as a resource, but in reality, it’s just a tool pointing to the real treasure: God’s Word. In Philippians, we find a joy different than what we usually expect. It’s not like earthly happiness. Paul’s joy is abounding. It’s secure. It’s unshakeable.
And, the good news? We can have it too—in all things.