New Hope (NH): Lost on a Familiar Road focuses largely on renewing our minds and thinking. How did you research writing for that subject?
Kimberly Sowell (KS): I began the process by running Scripture references that directly addressed the subject of the activities of the mind. As I prayed through and recorded those teachings, themes began to rise to the surface. God was teaching me the finer points of how to love Him with my mind. From there, God arrested my attention and had me so focused on learning to love Him with my mind that it became like a filter for me as I read God’s Word; even in my personal quiet time of Scripture reading, the Holy Spirit directed me to examine the thought processes of the men and women of the Bible, and how their thinking affected their walk with God.
NH: Your book offers readers several challenges for giving their minds to God. In your travels speaking to women, which of these challenges do you see them struggling with the most?
KS: A common struggle among women is our tendency to fall into thought patterns designed by worry. We play the reels of tape in our minds over and over, torturing ourselves with the negative scenes of what has already been or even the imagined scenes of what is yet to come. We can take a problem and bend it, twist it, and contort it into innumerable shapes and sizes, trying to figure out how to resolve the issue, even after we’ve spent time in prayer. We tell ourselves not to worry, we insist that we’ll lay the problem down, and we catch ourselves in the act of worry an hour later. God knows about this struggle, and He offers us wisdom in His Word to win the battle over worry.
NH: In one chapter, you make a simple but profound statement: “No amount of pushing on our part will force God to fix our problems on our timetable.” Even though we know this is true intellectually, why do you think we struggle so much with letting go in our emotions and actions?
KS: Our culture trains us to be do-ers. We’ve been indoctrinated to believe that responsible people can and should solve their own problems, totally leaving God’s sovereignty out of the equation. We think through our problems thoroughly until we’re convinced that we know what’s best, and then we lunge to make it happen, but God’s perspective will always trump our own; His timing is perfect. And certainly we also struggle with waiting on God because waiting is often a season of great discomfort to our flesh; while we wait, we must let patience have its perfect work (James 1:4), which is a refining process to have faith in the midst of pain, suffering, or uncertainty.
NH: You are skilled at immersing yourself (and therefore the reader) in the lives of people in the Bible, and making them seem approachable and familiar. How do you approach your study of people in the Scriptures?
KS: Two truths that God has taught me about the men and women of the Bible greatly affect my approach toward their stories. First, the men and women of Scripture were ordinary people made of dust like the rest of us, but they did extraordinary things because of God’s activity in their lives; remembering their humanity makes them more relatable. Second, I realized one day that the stories of each person in the Bible—even those whose lives are followed more carefully like King David or Moses—are only a tiny sampling of the entirety of their lives. God was at work in their lives continually, yet only particular accounts from their life stories made it into the pages of Scripture. With that in mind, I feel the necessity to carefully examine every detail of those stories to uncover layers of truth, knowing that God has His reasons for every story handpicked for His Word.
NH: What writers and teachers have had the greatest influence on you? Could you name the top five?
KS: Two teachers who have profoundly affected my ministry and my walk with Christ are Dr. Wayne McDill and Dr. Alvin Reid from Southeastern Seminary. Dr. McDill taught me how to be a student of God’s Word, and he was instrumental in shaping my style as a speaker. God used Dr. Reid in my life to give me a passion for reaching the lost and to keep this as a priority. Another great teacher in my life has been my dad. He is a dedicated student of God’s Word, and he has always challenged me and held me accountable to rightly divide God’s Word in my teaching and writing. Favorite authors — I love the practical writings of John C. Maxwell. I have read and reread some of his books. And how could I not name Dr. Edna Ellison in my top five list? Edna is one of those rare individuals who truly cheers in her heart when someone else succeeds in life for the glory of God. Edna took me under her wing and God used her to introduce me to the world of writing.
NH: You just published another book! What’s next for Kimberly Sowell and the Sowell family in 2013?
KS: I will be teaching Lost on a Familiar Road and speaking at women’s conferences this year, and I’m looking forward to every opportunity to share God’s Word with each dear woman in attendance! I am also very excited about a missions speaking tour in Southern Africa this summer because my 10-year-old daughter will be accompanying me; what a joy to walk the dusty roads of Africa alongside her in this formative season of her life. Board games, long walks, little league ball, family prayer, reading good books, popcorn parties, splashing in the lake, and leisurely bike rides with my children and husband are also in the works for 2013, Lord willing. That, and lots and lots of love.