Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow.
Sarah welcome to Overcoming Through Time.
Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your character’s has had to get past?
Although it might not have been the most difficult thing in my life, shame was a tenacious enemy and difficult to overcome.
I now call my college years my “stupid years”—I told myself I was taking a vacation from God and I was going to have fun! Instead of finding joy, I found heartache, chaos, and misery. After I graduated, I slowly returned to God and He forgave my sins. However, ironically, the closer I got to the Lord, the more my shame increased as I saw new dimensions of my sin—how I’d hurt others, led others astray, and grieved the Lord. I felt unworthy of God’s forgiveness, unworthy to be a wife and mother, unworthy to serve God in the church, and unworthy to write the stories I sensed He’d given me. After all, if people really knew who I was, they wouldn’t want to listen to me!
The Lord intervened through His word and His people to show me that my past sins weren’t the problem—my current shame was the true problem. Shame is one of Satan’s favorite weapons, and he uses it well to incapacitate Christians. I was had definitely fallen prey.
To shove shame out of my life, I had to immerse myself in God’s truth:
1) Christ fully redeems our sins. Once for all. When I asked Him to forgive me over and over for the same sin, I was saying I didn’t truly trust Him to forgive as He’d promised. I actually believed my sins were too great for His blood to cleanse. I had to embrace the fullness and totality of God’s forgiveness.
2) Christ covers our sins. When He forgives our sins, He exchanges our filthy, heavy cloak of shame for His glorious robe of righteousness. When the Father looks at us, He sees His Son’s righteousness. Our sins are truly wiped away.
3) Christ restores us. After I trusted His forgiveness, a new lie took hold. I might be forgiven, but I was damaged and useless to God. But look closely at the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The son is completely restored to his position as son, with all the rights, privileges, and authority of a son. That’s what the Lord does for us. He treats us as His precious children and gives us His authority to do His work.
4) Christ restores us for a purpose. While doing the hard work of shoving off shame does give personal peace, that is not the primary purpose. Rather, the Lord restores us to do His work—to teach, to offer comfort, to serve Him, and to show God to others. Isn’t that exciting?
Shoving off shame was hard work, requiring prayer, learning God’s Word, and disciplining myself to refuse to dwell on the past and to recognize Satan’s lies and push them out of my head before I entered shame’s downward spiral. However, I’ve seen the fruit of that labor. Once I’d shoved off the shame, God was able to use me. He’s given me the blessing of teaching in Sunday school, women’s Bible studies, and workshops. And He’s allowed me to write stories that I pray will glorify Him.
What is your favorite bible verse and why?
For dealing with shame, my favorite verse is Isaiah 54:4: "'Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.'"
Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio? All three of my novels are available in large print and as e-books with text-to-speech enabled. They are not yet available as traditional audio books.
What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
I don’t usually write a story with a message in mind, but find it rises from the characters and their situations. I do hope my readers learn from the characters’ mistakes and grow in their relationship with the Lord. Perhaps what I pray most for my readers is to see themselves as God sees them, deal with whatever entangles them (Shame? Sin? Fear? Pride?), find God’s purpose in their lives, and go do it in His strength.
As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
It’s impossible to do research about World War II and not do so. Even the most benign research question may turn up a poignant, funny, cruel, or heartbreaking story. I’ve gained a deep respect for those who lived through the war. They weren’t saintly heroes, but they had strength, dignity, and honor.
In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
Bibliotherapy—my, that’s a loaded word with a lot of responsibility. In each of my novels, the characters had to deal with sins and issues. In A Distant Melody, both hero and heroine learn about honesty and obedience. In A Memory Between Us, the heroine deals with shame over her past, and the hero learns to trust in God rather than his own abilities. In Blue Skies Tomorrow, the heroine deals with spousal abuse in her past, and both hero and heroine learn about fear and courage.
Thank you Sarah Sundin for agreeing to answer these questions. Have a blessed day and keep on writing!!
GIVEAWAY: A copy of one of Sarah's books this week - your choice. Winner announced on Saturday.