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One of the best ways to develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with God is to go on the journey he invites us on—the path of questioning. Guest Eva Marie Everson shares how by exploring—and answering—the profound questions God has for us will change our lives and writing.
About Eva Marie Everson
Eva Marie Everson is the CEO of Word Weavers International, a CBA bestselling author of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books, and multiple award-winning author and speaker. She is the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference and a frequent speaker at writers conferences and women’s events. Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they are owned by a cat named Vanessa.
Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!
Erin: Welcome, listeners, to the deep. We’re glad that you’re here with us in this Christmas season. We’re going to be continuing our very cool interview with Eva Marie Everson, and we’re just gonna jump right in. So come with us!
Eva Marie: The question “Where did you come from and where are you going?” which was the Genesis 16 question to Hagar, took me weeks to answer. I would write a little bit, put my journal away, write a little bit, and put my journal away.
Because when it comes to the “Where did you come from?” question, that’s an answer that you can start with, well, this is me: “I come from a small town along the low country of Georgia called Sylvania, right outside of Savannah.” And that could be my answer.
But then I started looking into who my parents were, what my home life was like, my teachers at school, my Sunday school teachers. My friends, activities, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all the people who poured into my life, who made me who I am, and who helped shape some of the decisions that I made along the way. Some of the choices that I made along the way, the good ones and the not so good ones, you know?
It took me a long time to answer that and this is the conclusion I came to. Here I was like, you know, in my late fifties, early sixties at this point, and I was like, “My whole life I have flown by the seat of my pants. I never made a logical choice in my life.”
I didn’t realize that until I answered that question. Then here I am now with the “And where are you going?” part of the question. Well, now I know where I’m going. I’m going to sit down and make some logical decisions. That’s where I’m going.
It truly changed the way I responded, or acted instead of reacted, to things. It changed my ability to make decisions, and to make decisions not just for the betterment of myself, but for the betterment of everybody around me, so that everyone else wasn’t getting caught up in my train wreck. That was a hard question to answer.
Erin: It takes a lot of courage to wrestle with this. You know, you think of Jacob wrestling with God all night long. That’s the kind of wrestling that we’re talking about here. Wrestling to answer these things and to go into these questions. I think it’s so valuable. Just reading through some of the questions you have in the book, you can just see the potential.
I love the question, “Who do you say I am?” If writers struggled and wrestled over that question, what a difference it would make in the peace they have on their journey.
Eva Marie: That’s right. And on that story of Jacob wrestling, at the end of the wrestling, there was a question. God asked him a question. He said, “What is your name?”
Eva Marie: Because at the beginning of this whole brouhaha, he passed himself off as Esau. “I am Esau.” Back when Isaac said, before he gave his blessing, “Who are you? Who is this?”
“I am Esau,” Jacob said.
Now, oh, this makes me cry every time I think about it. Now, God is saying, “What is your name?”
And Jacob says, “I’m Jacob.”
Erin: He admits to being the usurper.
Eva Marie: Exactly. He admits it. “I’m the usurper. I’m the conman. I’m the scoundrel.”
And God says, “Yeah, you are, but I’m going to give you a new name. Israel. Because you wrestle with God and man, and you overcame.”
That’s so powerful. My eyes tear up, my nose clogs up because I just cannot imagine that moment with him. You know that when God said, “What is your name?” that Jacob surely thought, “Oooh… that’s what this is about.”
Erin: Yep. I like that. I like, too, when God says to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” That’s powerful because what does Moses have? He’s just been given this commission, to go tell Pharaoh to let the people go, and here’s what you got. You’ve got God. But also, you’ve got this staff.
Eva Marie: You’ve got a staff. But that was the tool of his trade, right? And he was going to shepherd these people. And that’s why I said that a pen is the tool of our trade. Or our keyboard. Are you willing to throw it down and pick it up in a new and different way? In a way that might be dangerous?
Eva Marie: You know, pick up a snake by its tail, and it’s gonna bite you.
Eva Marie: But that’s what Moses was supposed to do. And if you do it in a way that you’ve never done it before, then God’s like, “Watch what I’m going to do with it. I’m going to bring it back to its original purpose and it’s going to be powerful. It’s going to lead people out of slavery.”
That’s what I want my pen to do. I want my pen, whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, to lead people out of the slavery of sin. That’s what I want.
Karen: In response to these questions, the first reaction is fear. The enemy has got us so tied up in fear about exposing ourselves, about speaking the truth of who we are. About saying what we have, and fearing that what we have will be taken away.
We all need to go back and get solid in our minds the answer to “Who do you say that I am?” Because this God is not a God who’s trying to trick us. He’s not a God who’s trying to take away the best thing in our lives. He’s trying to give us the best, if we will let go of what is less than.
Erin: Right. And the question, “Where is your faith?” We need to ask ourselves that. When we’ve got the God of the universe with us as he promises to be, how does our faith slide? Where does it go? These are questions that we need to be pondering. They need to be secure in our heart.
I love the way you’ve been talking, Eva, about that deeper intimacy and going deeper. The answers need to be deep in our hearts. The whole idea that God is asking us these things is so that can happen.
Eva Marie: And about the time that you think you’ve answered the question, you realize there’s more. That’s why I love the journaling. It’s because I get to come back to it and come back to it and come back to it until I’ve just literally poured myself out.
Then there are times when, I don’t know, months could go by. Then all of a sudden something in that question from three months ago will rise up, and it will niggle at my heart, like there’s more to answer. There’s more to this, and I gotta go back to it, and that’s okay.
Karen: First time I did a prayer labyrinth, I was on a silent retreat. As I walked the path and was meditating and praying, it struck me so hard that I was far from the first person to walk this path. That I was walking in the footsteps of countless others who had come to the same place to walk and contemplate and pray and seek God.
I thought of the history, the legacy, both of the prayer labyrinth, and of the family of faith. And that we never have to face these things alone. We have God, of course, but there are so many others that God puts in our path.
As I put my feet down with each of the changes in each of the angles and the turns, I thought, “People have been here before. People will come behind. I’m a part of something that draws us closer to God.”
Eva Marie: The thing about the prayer labyrinth is you do have to watch your feet. Otherwise, you’re gonna go off course. Then I think about the verse that says, “Your word is a light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet.” But it’s only right where I’m walking. Only right where I’m stepping. I can’t look beyond right where I am. I’ve gotta be in that moment, and that’s what’s so beautiful about a prayer labyrinth.
Erin: Yeah, and I think the silence. We touched on that a little bit before, but it’s so hard to come by. Not just is it hard to come by, but I think our culture is becoming more and more afraid of silence. For some it’s, “Well, I don’t wanna hear what I’m gonna hear when I’m silent.”
For others, noise is just the constant in their lives. It’s a distraction. But I feel like it’s almost become the great numbing drug, this constant noise.
So I really like the idea of having that focused silence where you’re not getting input from your phone or news or whatever. You’re specifically focusing on just getting input from God and that’s all. I think that’s a real challenge for us.
Eva Marie: I say in the book to take your phone and turn it to silent and then put it in another room. Get away from the darn thing because you will inevitably go, when your brain starts thinking about something, “Huh, I wonder where that is…” And now I’m over here checking.
Karen: Take it off of vibrate, too. Don’t let it vibrate because you still hear that.
Eva Marie: It could be someone who needs me!
Erin: It’s just a testimony to how our brains really are being rewired by things like the Internet and social media. All kinds of things like that where our brains are expecting that constant new thing to stimulate us. That’s a difficulty we need to overcome.
I think you’re right, Eva, that literally putting the phone in another room on silent is a good call. Or going outside. We will actually feel discomfort with being away from our phone because we’re so used to being so connected to it. I know Karen had to go without Internet for a while at her house, and that must have been terrible.
Karen: It was brutal.
Eva Marie: Yeah, we experienced that during Hurricane Ian. I live here in Florida. I picked my fifteen-year-old grandson up from school, maybe a week after Ian, and I asked him, “How did you guys do? That was a pretty intense storm.”
He said, “We didn’t lose electricity, but we lost Internet.”
I said, “Oh, I didn’t realize you lost Internet.”
He said, “Oh my gosh, I thought I was gonna lose my mind.”
Erin: Yeah. It’s just that we’re trained.
As we’re starting to run out of time here, Eva, do you have some final words of wisdom or encouragement that you want to give writers, especially as we’re pretty much in the Christmas season?
Eva Marie: Not a single word.
Karen: Okay, then thanks! Good having you here.
Eva Marie: Words. I need a word. I just posted this picture of a Shakespearean-era writer with his quill, and you can tell he’s just so intense. I wrote, “What caption would you put under this?”
My caption was, “Word! Half my kingdom for a word!”
We’re going into the Christmas season and one of the nice things for those of us who are writers not just, you know, for a hobby but are professional writers, is that this is kind of the season where everything slows down and it’s nice. It’s nice to get away from the frenzy of it all and just to take some time and be quiet and reflect.
That’s what the whole Advent calendar is about. To think about who came. It was the Word. The Word came. And the Word was God and the Word was with God. I love that because it’s all about the spoken Word and then the written Word.
Just take some time to breathe and not get caught up in the frenzy. Take some time to be silent. Take some time to ponder the questions that God asked. Not just in the Bible, but the questions he’s speaking to your heart during this time as to why he came. And the beautiful way he came. And who he wants to be in your life.
The question that I’m working on right now, and have been working on for a little over a week, actually comes from the Easter story. It was when Jesus was in the garden, and the Roman soldiers and the temple guards came with Judas into the garden of Gethsemene. Jesus asked them this question, “Who is it that you seek?”
They said, “Jesus, the Nazarene.”
Now, most of our translations say that Jesus said, “I am He.”
But the original transcript says, “I Am.”
And they fell. They stumbled back and fell on the ground because he had just declared the holy name of God: I Am.
Eva Marie: When they stood up, Jesus asked them again, “Who is it that you seek?”
They said it again, “Jesus, the Nazarene.”
He said, “I told you, I Am.” In other words, why are you still looking? But the question led me to who I Am is, and who do I want I Am to be in my life. Am I just seeking all that I Am can give to me? That part of the I Am? I Am, the Creator? I Am, the all sufficient one. I Am, the all-encompassing one. I Am, the all-giving one. Is that what I want?
Or do I want more of what Paul said? I want to know Christ and I want to know his sufferings. I want to know the power of his resurrection, but I want to know his sufferings and be like him in his death. So what part of God am I seeking? Is it just the easy part or is it the hard part?
And then look at what came on that first Christmas morning, or as we celebrate it, that morning of his birth. Who came? What came? What are you seeking? Just like the shepherd. The little drummer boy.
Who is it that you seek? That’s a good question. It’s a hard question.
Karen: It is. Well, I hope that everybody who’s listening, I hope that all of us, even the three of us here will take all of this to heart and to seek within ourselves, “Who is the I Am to me ? How do I know him better? How do I come into a place where I accept all of who he is and not just the parts that are easy?”
Thank you, Eva. It’s been wonderful.
Eva Marie: Thank you.What are the most powerful questions God has for you? Join guest @EversonAuthor as she shares the deep questions that will change your life and writing journey. #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Who is the I Am to you?
BOOK BY EVA MARIE EVERSON
The Third Path: Finding Intimacy with God on the Path of Questioning by Eva Marie Everson
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