What a great night I had. I did my first author interview, via phone, with Dr. Margaret Harrell Wills. Her book, Pressing Into Thin Places, is a collection of stories from the author's personal experiences, lovingly laced with her own poetry and prose, and infused with biblical views and rich truths. My first question upon reading the book was exactly what does the term "thin place" mean. Dr. Willis explains in her book that a "thin place" is a"place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent. It is a place where we experience a deep sense of God's presence in our everyday world."
At 6:00 PM CST this evening I nervously dialed Dr. Wills number and began my interview. What an experience! Me: Thank you so much for giving me this time Dr. Wills. I understand what a thin place is, what I would like to know is when did you first experience one? Dr. Wills - "My husband and I were separated and I was laying in bed looking out at the city lights and felt so little and I was wondering did God really know what was going on? I awakened later actually singing, "Amazing Grace." My thin place was a momentary awareness or profound unexplainable experience. Me: I write poetry and prose myself, did you plan the poetry for the book? I think it really added something to just reading a story. Dr. Wills: "I like the rhythm and cadence of poetry and prose. I believe it was natural to intermingle my poetry into the stories and biblical references. I believe I was influenced by Psalms. You know even David in the Psalms would begin complaining and somewhere through piece he would begin to praise as the Holy Spirit took over." Me:Pressing Into Thin Places gives readers permission to be authentic and to acknowledge doubt, questions, even depression. Often we experience guilt over these sometimes realities, fearing they show a weak faith. But how can facing these circumstances or emotions actually strengthen faith and reveal the presence of God in our lives? Dr. Wills: "We all have ups and downs. We are emotional beings. This is part of life. But can we dial up different thoughts? Can we change our feelings? Many times, I believe we can. Not too long ago I came across a verse in I Samuel 30. The chapter talked about a time when David was defeated by his enemies, rejected by all those around him and discouraged to the core. In verse 6, it says, "And David strengthened in the Lord." How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord? I believe we do what a verse in Psalms suggests: "And then one day I went into yur sanctuary and thought" (Ps. 73:17). We strengthen ourselves in the Lord by going His presence and letting Him guide our thinking. Many of the Psalms tell us that David worshipped and meditated on the scriptures. This was no exception. He received new purpose, vision, and authority. He waited patiently to become King." Me: What do you want your readers to know about struggle and doubt? Dr. Wills: "We all go through it, what is wrong is when we don't deal with it. We should call out and as you get through whatever situation you are in and look back you see that God really was there. Think of Thomas who came to Jesus in his time of great grief when his friend had died. God wants us to be authentic. That is what Thomas was. He was authentic in his grief and request." Me: What is writing a book of this caliber like? Dr Wills: "Writing a book is a journey. When I first wrote this book and submitted it it was half the size it is now. The publisher said I had to make it bigger but I could not come up with the words to say I prayed and asked God if He wanted this book bigger He was going to have to give me the words, and that is exactly what He did." Dr. Wills: "I heard a thought once that went, "Does God still speak to us? The answer was yes....He uses dreams." Me: Why do you think we fear admitting doubt or struggles with faith?" Dr. Wills: "Fear wants to rise and speak to the bottom corners of our mind. It will remind us not to be vulnerable. We will remember what happens when we risk psychological safety or abandon feelings of superiority. It is all about learning and knowing the Lord. The teacher offers us hands on experience. It is not just hearing the word, it is about doing the word and taking it a step further into our faith. It is important to be obedient, having a listening ear, and a teachable one as well." Me: What has your faith journey taught you about prayer? Dr. Wills: "Letting go of the last word in a disagreement is the way. You don't have to prove you are right." Me: If you don't mind my asking just what is your favorite bible verse? Dr. Wills: "It is one in Revelation. I don't remember it exactly but it ends with a question, "Are your ears awake?" Josiah, in the bible went into a battle that was none of his business. The Pharoah had told him that God had spoken to him and he was to be allowed to cross Josiah's land...Josiah went to battle and died because his ears were not awake." Me: What do you want your readers to take from the book? Dr. Wills: "I want them to read the book, realize others can benefit from it and share it. I hope I instill an awareness of thin places in their lives. I would like for them to be encouraged and be encouragers to others."
What an awesome time this was for me! I hope you will run to the nearest bookstore and buy this book. It is a great read and a great gift for someone! Thank you so very much Dr. Wills for a thoroughly enjoyable time!
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.