At first glance, the two Bethany House books releasing in August seem to be very different. One is set in small town 1950s Appalachia, the other is a medical drama set in turn-of-the-century Washington D.C. Miracle in a Dry Season focuses on grace and forgiveness within a community, while With Every Breath is more about an individual’s fear of death and losing loved ones. Still, one lesson they share is this: Do what God made you to do.
“Casewell sat and looked at his work. Satisfaction spread through him. This was the kind of thing he had been made to do. Playing music pleased him, and most any work he could do with his hands satisfied, but this shaping of wood into useful and beautiful objects—this was what God intended for him to do.”
“Transforming raw ingredients into something delicious and life sustaining was the closest Perla got to happy. No, Perla realized, not happy. She was happy when Sadie laughed or cuddled close. What she felt when she cooked was a deep, abiding peace.”
If you’ve ever created something, you understand what Casewell and Perla felt here. That time you play the sonata just right. When the child’s eyes light up at your encouraging words. The rush of victory that cuts through your exhaustion after you’ve worked hard to meet a challenging goal. The full basket of produce from your garden, the crayon drawing on the refrigerator, the laughter that trails behind the campfire stories. We were meant to enjoy what God has made us to do.
Olympic runner Eric Liddell once famously explained how normal, mundane activities can be worship when he said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
Sounds like Casewell and Perla. But it also sounds like Trevor McDonough, from Elizabeth Camden’s With Every Breath. As a physician and researcher, his one goal was to find a cure for tuberculosis. And even when his studies brought him in close contact with patients who had the deadly disease, he was determined to do what God had made him to do, no matter the cost.
“Of course you’re afraid! Do you imagine for one second that I’m not? But I won’t give in to it. I would lay down my life for you. I would lay down my life for any one of the thirty-two people lying in those beds upstairs, and I won’t turn my back on them. If I run away from what I’ve been fighting for all my life, then I begin dying. Then my purpose will be over.”
If God has ever called you to do something difficult or frightening, you understand Trevor’s emotion here: the faith it takes to say “yes” to what God wants you to do, even if it means a potentially awkward phone call or a risky move or a difficult choice. But there’s also the joy of knowing you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
We were made in God’s image. We were made to be creators, whatever form that takes—beautiful music, delicious food, eye-catching architecture, well-organized research, moving speeches. We were meant for a life full of joy in doing what God meant us to do, and using those gifts to bless others.
Or, as Jesus puts it in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
That’s why Perla’s gift for making food matters, why Casewell’s talent for transforming wood into something beautiful matters, why Trevor’s quest to end a deadly disease matters. It’s about purpose, about overflowing with blessing and sharing it with people around us.
Who is someone you know who uses their talents to serve others? What does that look like?