It’s time for a new installment of the Author Interview Series, where I tell you about great books and provide an opportunity for you to meet the author and learn more about her life-giving message.
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Today’s author is Abby McDonald. Her book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God is such a timely book for these times.
Here’s my official endorsement:
For those who question if God cares what they are going through, Abby McDonald’s wise and thoughtful insights provide a perspective shift to discouraged hearts. Learn to hang on to hope, through difficult circumstances, as you see God’s trustworthy nature displayed with each turn of the page.”
Author Interview with Abby McDonald
What prompted you to write the book, Shift?
I believe perspective and our expectations of how God will act play powerful roles in our relationship with him. Shift’s message was birthed in a season where I trusted God only as far as my answered prayers took me. My husband and I took a huge step of faith and expected life to look a certain way, but immediately hit roadblocks. It caused me to question God and whether we truly heard from him.
Why do you think a change in perspective is crucial to see God’s hand at work in our lives?
As humans who live in a fallen world, we see the world through our own desires unless the Spirit empowers us to view it in a different way. As Paul states in 2nd Corinthians, we are continually moving from glory to glory and seeing more of God. But often, we stumble when life gets hard. A change in perspective is crucial because those hard seasons can cause us to question God and push us a way from him. Unless we’re viewing the struggle as something God can use for our good and his glory, we will assume he’s abandoned us. Assumption can bring further darkness into our lives.
But when we see our hardship as something God can use and as a way he can draw something beautiful out of us, we can move forward in trust. Instead of fearing abandonment, we see each valley and bump in the road as a future testimony of God’s faithfulness and grace.Each valley and bump in the road is a future testimony of God’s faithfulness and grace. @abby_mcdonald7 #shiftbook Click To Tweet
In your book you talk about looking past our expectations, while still expecting God to move in miraculous ways. How have you seen God answer prayer in ways you didn’t expect?
My husband and I were in the middle of our second cross-country move in five years, and after living in my in-laws basement for months, we finally found a home. I flew south with my two-year-old son to visit my parents so my husband could refinish the floors, and my son had a huge meltdown about twenty minutes before we landed. I was absolutely mortified. I’d been praying for God to empower me to be a good mom to Jaden during this transition, and for Jaden adjust well to all the changes. But to be honest, I felt like I was failing. In my tired mind, this meltdown seemed to confirm that.
But as I rushed to get off the plan, I heard a voice behind me say, “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.” I turned around to see a slightly older man standing behind me. I could tell he meant what he said. God used this complete stranger to affirm me as a mother when all I wanted to do was disappear. I was amazed and grateful, and I realized God sees each and every aspect of my days. He sees the sacrificial acts of love and the mundane, sometimes monotonous hours of parenting. Each detail matters to him, and none of it is in vain. He knew I needed to be encouraged as a mom, and even though I would never have asked for a toddler meltdown on a plane, he used it as an opportunity. He fulfilled a need I didn’t know I had in a way I never expected.
Hebrews tells us faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) What encouragement do you have for the person who’s taken a step she felt was prompted by God, but then hit a detour?
First, I think we need to be aware that when we step out in faith, we will face opposition because the enemy of our souls never quits. He wants us to be discouraged, to doubt, and to question God. But you know what?
The Spirit who lives in us is greater and more powerful than anything the enemy can throw at us.
When we step out in faith, it’s natural for us to expect things to look a certain way. We usually have a vision for the future, and when life doesn’t turn out the way we saw it in our plan, we get discouraged. But we serve a God who wants to surpass our expectations. He sees obstacles that may lie ahead and parts of our journey we can’t see yet. If we hit a detour, we need to know he is making a way through what may appear to be a wilderness and will lead us to victory. His plan is for our ultimate good.
There have been so many times when I’ve seen God save me from what I thought was the best plan. He saw elements of my family’s circumstances that I overlooked because I was laser-focused on getting from point A to point B. He’s a Father who sees everyone’s needs, not just what I think I need.
You compare and contrast a short-term view versus long-term hope. How does thinking about the infinite nature of God impact the choices we make today?
We live in a culture where we’re programmed to think everything needs to happen right now. Whether it’s two-day shipping or an immediate response to our post on social media, instant gratification is the norm. But God is asking us to retrain our minds and look past what we can see with our eyes. When we do this, we make our choices asking, “How is this going to impact my future and the future of those around me?” Not just our future in this life, but the next.
Short-term view tells us that if God doesn’t give us the desires of our heart right now, he never will. But long-term hope reminds us God is building something to stand and last forever. He will give when we are ready to receive, and he will use the wait to prepare us. He’s looking at a bigger story that we all get to be a part of, but we have to trust him. And when our faith in the plan he has for us is greater than our faith in today, a whole new world opens up before us. We see this life as a temporary dwelling place, and each choice we make carries this truth.
When our faith in the plan God has for us is greater than our faith in today, a whole new world opens up before us. @abby_mcdonald7 #shiftyourfocus Click To Tweet
How does our faith and obedience leave a trail for others for others to follow?
My favorite example of this is Hebrews 11. Many people call this “the faith chapter” because it lists people we now call heroes of the faith who followed God in the face of overwhelming odds. But if you look at the men and women this chapter discusses, they were not perfect. They were ordinary people like you and me, and each of them faced doubt and disbelief. Each of them made mistakes, and some of those mistakes would even appear impossible to overcome to most people. But God still used them.
These men and women acted on God’s promise instead of what they could see with their eyes. And we are reaping the benefits of their faith today. Their faithfulness left a trail for us to follow. And in the same way, our steps of faith lead the way for others. They see us move and see how God uses those small acts of obedience, and they realize it’s possible for them too. They’re inspired to live a life of forward-moving trust in God instead of passive inertia. And when they take a step, they become trailblazers too. There is a beautiful ripple effect as we become united as Christ’s body, the church.
Abby McDonald is the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. She is also a blogger, speaker, wife and mom whose work has been featured on (in)Courage, For Every Mom, Crosswalk and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is messy. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of South Carolina, and teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences each year. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and mischievous lab pup in western Maryland. Connect with her at www.abbymcdonald.org.If you want to see God in the midst of our struggles, you have to change the way we look for him. @abby_mcdonald7 #shiftyourfocus Click To Tweet
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