The Greater Unseen

The Greater Unseen

Sunset in the wood in winter periodDid you know a great awakening is taking place in the world? It’s not really reported on any of the news channels. You can read about it here. How long has it been since you’ve heard some good news?

At the same time, unfathomable atrocities against Christians in Syria and other places in the Middle East take my breath away. Danger is imminent at every turn, not to mention loss of shelter, lack of food, and an uncertain future.

“Great evil. GREAT REVIVAL” is the title of a special bulletin from the Voice of the Martyrs.

J.D. King of Charisma magazine wrote that, “Reliable reports suggest more Muslims have become followers of Jesus over the last two decades than in Islam’s combined 1,500-year history.”

Something is happening. 

Though the fig tree should not blossom

And there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail

And the fields produce no food,

Though the flock should be cut off from the fold

And there be no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

— Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NASB)

The ScreamTo embrace what God is doing in this day, I am compelled to face the ongoing brutalities squarely. Jesus was born into a violent Roman domination of the land. Herod killed all the baby boys. Think of the outraged fathers, the weeping mothers, and the instability of those times.

It is no different today—for all our education, science, medicine, governments, civil laws, justice systems, and technological advances—evil overtakes some, and carnage remains as a dark stain on the human story.

But Stephen saw into heavenly realms AS he was being stoned. In the same way, I believe that God and his hosts of angels meet people in the nano-second of death—maybe even in the moments prior to death—whether they are beheaded, blown out of the sky on an airplane, or shot down in cold blood. And supernatural comfort also comes for those who remain in great tribulation. These are mysteries, but I believe they are true. What do you believe?Continue reading

When life jackets aren’t enough…

When life jackets aren’t enough…

IMG_1187You see that little girl? The one on the right? Yes, it’s me. I was six and a half years old that summer. That’s right—the girl in the lifejacket, the one who wanted life to be safe.

Some of my family’s pictures reveal a time in my life when I was free to be a child in a child’s world. Utterly unselfconscious. I was given that privilege, that chance to grow up naturally, slowly, as a flower opens in the spring.

SDH TeenagerBut that time of innocence melted away. I soon became a contemplative teenager, and a very different world emerged. I saw pain in other people’s faces. I heard traumatic stories. I learned about abuse, divorce, racism, prostitution, drug overdoses, mental illness, and death. Where was God in all the chaos and tragedy?

I wanted to be safe and keep others safe too, but life jackets would not suffice.

How does one reconcile the idea of a loving God with the pain in human existence–particularly when it comes to unjust suffering? Is it brazen to think God isn’t doing a good job of being God? How can you get close to Him, if you don’t trust Him? Those deep brooding questions were tucked away in the dark places of my heart, even though I’d been a Christian for a while.

And those are Iris Somerset’s questions too.

Closeup IrisIris is the main character in my newly released novel, Bird, Horse, and Muffin. She’s ten years old. Ten and a half to be precise. Half years are important when you’re keeping up with a snarky teenage brother like Wyeth.

God speaks to her for the first time in a school parking lot. From that point on, her family life begins a nosedive. Yet her spiritual curiosity is stirred. God brought her terrible news. Still God was the One Who told her. How intriguing and confusing to a young girl with a heart full of questions?

My editor, Mick Silva, wrote me during the writing process. “You know you’re Iris, right? You get that don’t you?”

I tilted my head. It was a curious thought. I didn’t lose my mother at a young age. My father wasn’t anything like Hank, Iris’ father, and I didn’t have a volatile older brother to contend with. But in truth, my spiritual questions were the same. I wrote back. “Well, yes. You’re right. Maybe she’ll figure things out for me.”

BHMfrontcoverFINAL copyStory writing is like that. As an author, I was laying out my own questions and struggles, my own vulnerabilities and dismay that life is different than I’d hoped for. I searched for answers and pressed into God when I came up empty. At times my characters took me places and showed me a few things. And some of my own questions resolved.

Wyeth and Car closeupMostly I hope this story will resonate with those who have lost a parent, or have had to grow up too quickly, or lived under the instability of alcoholism. I want to show a real God in the midst of human loss–that when you reach your absolute rock bottom, God is there.

Still one has to choose between despair and faith. It’s not an easy choice. Despair is the shipwreck of the soul, and the journey of faith is often without a clear path. As a kid might say, it’s a choice between worse and worser. And yet along the way—through faith—the unseen becomes more real than what is seen. And that brings hope—the kind of hope that lights the way.

Candles WaxAs Uncle Skeets explains to Iris in the story—“To go on with God, you have to be willing to walk in days of mystery.”

All the God encounters in my novel are based on true stories, lending authenticity to the ways God enters our human struggle.

May you have your own encounter with God as you read the story!

Bird, Horse, and Muffin is available now on Amazon and Kindle. If you’d like to be part of my “Street Team” and help put out the word on social networking, write me at sdhill747@hotmail, and receive a free, signed copy. With 5,000 new books printed every day—900 alone in the U.S.—the only way to extend the reach of my message is through word of mouth. Your help would involve less than an hour of time and would be greatly appreciated! Enjoy the fabulous book trailer created by Filmmaker Scott Chestnut with the help of my son, Nate!

Click here to watch the book trailer

The Pleasure of God

The Pleasure of God

Who can say how these moments arrive? A sudden awareness, an unseen presence descending like a soothing breeze.

It happened to me one glorious fall day. The late afternoon sun felt warm on my skin. I’d been picking up trash, strewn along the roadside by our house.

IMG_1154With my garbage sack full, I strolled up the driveway, thinking about how seasons come and go and years slip by. A vague kind of loneliness came over me as one thought led to another. And then, God came near.

You’re so beautiful to Me, He whispered.

It had nothing to do with physical beauty. Time fades all that. Besides, I was grimy with dirt and perspiration. It seemed like such an odd thing for Him to say. Why then?

It had nothing to do with the fact that I was picking up other people’s garbage, as if that were something special. Concerned citizens in our town organize that kind of effort all the time.

It wasn’t like I’d just accomplished some great thing in my life. I was simply carrying a load of garbage up the driveway. But God seems to catch me off guard in quiet, solitary, mundane moments—maybe on purpose—so I won’t associate it with anything I’ve done.

He just wanted me to feel His pleasure.

Jesus BaptismJesus hadn’t even started his ministry when John baptized him in the Jordan River. Still, God said, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” Of course, one might say, “That’s because it was Jesus,” but that same pleasure is for us.

Kindness Words in Sky Compassionate Generous BackgroundGod smiles when someone does the right thing and no one is looking. He rejoices over the marriage bed of a husband and wife who’ve remained faithful. He is moved by true contrition and forgiveness. He delights when we step into the purposes for which He made us. He notices surprising generosity, private worship, and honest prayers. He exults over each person who comes out of darkness into light.

It might sound prideful or pompous to say God takes pleasure in us. One could even say it smacks of self-righteousness. But His pleasure isn’t necessarily tied to our good behavior…Continue reading