I am delighted that you found your way to this book! With each of these devotional readings, I am inviting you to join God and me in that sacred space where we share our hearts with each other. You can expect to be encouraged, comforted, delighted, challenged, inspired or maybe even surprised as you read the entry for each day.
Let me tell you how this book came to be.
Journaling is a life coping technique that I have practiced for much of my adult life. Most of my journaling has consisted of writing down the conversations I have with God. This book is the fruit of a decision that I made in 1979 to write down not only what I am saying to God, but also what I sense God is saying to me. Glimpses of God’s Heart is a selection of 366 of the many hundreds of things I have sensed God saying to me over the past thirty-eight years.
When I began writing these words, I had no idea that they would one distant day find their way into a book. What happened, however, is that as I shared the readings with friends and family members from time to time, I began receiving encouragement to publish them. The final push that catapulted me into the work of compiling the readings in this book came a year and a half ago, when a dear friend was so blessed by one that she said, “Gwen, you have to get those readings out and now!” And so, that is how my private conversations with God have now become public knowledge. No one is more surprised than I!
Let me say a little bit about how these “words” from God come to me. I do not hear an audible voice. I do not experience automatic writing that involves setting aside the conscious mind. I do not see visions. Instead, I quiet my soul – my mind, my will, and my emotions – and then I sense concepts or feelings from God in my spirit, or the core of my being. I write down what I am sensing, rephrasing it until what I have written accurately reflects what I am sensing.
This business of quieting my soul is no small task, involving as it does silencing the chatter in my mind, letting go of whatever I might want, and weaning my emotions. To my surprise and frustration, this task has not gotten easier over the years. As you will find out, I am a very ordinary person who experiences all the typical vicissitudes and frailties of human life!
You might be wondering how I can know that what I sense comes from God. This is a reasonable question to ask, and you can be sure that I have asked it as well! One way, perhaps the main way, to test the source of the thoughts or ideas I sense is to check them against the Bible, the Judeo-Christian scriptures. When I was a young adult, I spent four years studying the Bible at a Bible College. Over the years, I have continued to immerse myself in these scriptures by meditating on them and memorizing them. This familiarity with the Bible, commonly referred to as “God’s Word,” helps me to know whether or not what I am sensing originates with God.
I invite you to participate in this testing process. I have included many footnotes that are references to places in scripture that reflect the ideas in the text. Sometimes I have indicated a specific translation that suits best. I would like to recommend a web site that makes it really easy to find scriptures, and to read them in 25 different translations: biblehub.com. Click on “Parallel” (for parallel translations) and type in the scripture reference in the search bar at the top.
Reading this book will never replace the benefit of reading the Bible. The words in these devotionals do not take the place of, or add to, the revelation of a loving and merciful God that we find in scriptures. One of my reasons for including footnotes that are references to scriptures, is to direct you to that original and authentic word of the God who I have found to be the true source of life.
Over the many years of listening, I have discovered that God uses what I have experienced in life to speak to me. Because I worked as a psychotherapist for many years, not infrequently God speaks to me in the language of that field. The benefit of that for you is that some of the readings contain the kind of wisdom you would receive if you were sitting in the office of a psychosocial counselor. Of course, reading this book in no way will replace the benefit you can gain from hiring a good counselor when you find yourself unable to work through something on your own.
If you have experience with the Twelve Step program for addicts and co-addicts, you will recognize familiar themes such as shame, letting go, and craving approval. This is because I struggle with codependence. It would be true to say that the devotionals in this book provide an intimate view of my efforts to do Step Three: handing my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God. I offer them to you in the hope that my sharing will encourage you on your recovery journey.
Let me give you two examples of how these readings are created in my life.
Four years ago, I found myself in the disconcerting situation of wrapping up my counseling practice without any clear sense of where I was headed. All I knew was that my body was telling me I had to make a change. I felt lost and very sad, because I loved my counseling work and I couldn’t conceive that anything else would ever be as rewarding and satisfying. The following words from God became my anchor as I navigated the transition.
My treasure, my love:
Even though you feel lost, you’re not.
Even though you think you don’t know the way, you do.
Even though you think you’re giving up something extremely valuable,
You simply are making room for something just as valuable.
Walk confidently into the future, my love!
I have such joy planned for you!
Embrace this time of change and the change itself.
Know that I surround you and I go before you.
I fill you and I energize you.
It’s you and me together, sashaying boldly into the future.
Pure, unadulterated joy!
You and me together.
Yes. I like it!!
More recently, I experienced lying on a hospital bed while waiting for burr hole surgery to relieve the pressure on my brain created by a subdural hematoma (brain bleed). I was in excruciating pain and losing the ability to function physically and to think or to even know where I was. The one thought I do remember having as I neared death was, “I’m being reduced to nothing.” All I could do was to cry out to God, “Jesus, save me!” over and over again. The surgery brought blissful relief. Several days later, these words from God helped me to come to terms with this traumatic event:
My treasure, I have been closer than your heartbeat
through this entire experience.
I surely carried you when you were too weak
to even know where you were.
This water of adversity has not swept you away,
but rather is being used to do a sorting and a sifting
that will bring positive change.
The truth is that nothing can separate you from my love,
not physical pain or disorientation
or loss of physical or mental or emotional function.
When you cried out to me for help,
that cry was the breath of my Spirit within you,
interceding for you with groans too deep for words.
I am answering those prayers, my love!
In this way, each of the devotional readings in this book has been birthed as I walk through my life experiences together with God.
My hope is that the glimpses of God’s heart revealed in these readings will speak to you in a life-giving way, and that my sharing with you my experience of intimacy with God will encourage you to cultivate and enjoy that place for yourself.
 Canadian Mennonite Bible College, now Canadian Mennonite University, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.