Renee Johnson: Choices from Brokenness

Most of my friends are peers, but Renee Johnson, the Devotional Diva, is one of my younger friends. Vivacious and courageous, Renee inspires me. Many of her choices stem from the broken pieces of her life—pieces she has allowed God to transform. Let me introduce you to my 20-something girlfriend.

Dawn: Renee, I had to smile when I heard about your words to your mom before you became a Christian. What was it you said?
Renee: When I was four years old, I told my mom I’d be "ready to accept the responsibility of becoming a Christian" when I was five; so, on my fifth birthday, I knelt down with my mom and asked Jesus to come into my heart.

Dawn: I love that. What challenge in your life since that time helped you to grow in dependency on the Lord?
Renee: What challenge? My entire life! Seriously, I have come through so many trials, and God has helped me overcome. My health issues—ranging from anxiety to eczema (a skin rash)—have torn me into pieces; but God is greater and has healed my brokenness (Hosea 6:1-3). As a result of my illnesses, I humbly accepted the message God planted in my heart. I’ve found it is strong enough to save my soul (James 1:21).

Dawn: What choice have you made along the way that you’ve found helpful?
Renee: I’ve had a daily quiet time since 1998. I wrote my first book, a devotional titled Faithbook of Jesus, as a result of that fruitful time spent with Jesus—those 15 years with the Lord. I have journals that reach about five feet tall in all, if you stack them one on top of the other.

Dawn: Journaling, a wise choice. What would you say is the purpose of Faithbook?
Renee: It is written by a 20-something (me) and the primary audience is for 18- to 35-year-olds who are making the toughest decisions they will face throughout life.

Dawn: As the Devotional Diva, your passion, then, is to help your peers focus on the scriptures?
Renee: Yes. The Word is powerful, and we can stand on it. It teaches us what to do with our lives and how to live.

Dawn: Do you feel you’ve been successful with getting the book into their hands?
Renee: I have sold over 7,500 copies within two months of its release. God is good!

Dawn: Wow! Any new books on the horizon?
Renee: I am writing my next book on brokenness. It’s a memoir on suffering, and I’m including interviews of other broken 20-somethings to show God’s glory and triumph over brokenness. I chose this topic because I had to find another way to live. Actually, I’ve had to redo my life more than four times now, because of my serious health issues and God’s call on my life. I realized that I’m not alone, and there are many other people struggling who could use the same help, strength, and encouragement that I have received from staying close to God—even when I haven’t felt like it.

Dawn: What do you think are the toughest choices for 20-somethings today?
Renee: Sex. Lust. Drugs. Pregnancy. STDs. Broken hearts. Finances. Identity. Relationships. People pleasing. Job changes.

Dawn: Lots of those things affect older people, too! When you are 50 and looking back on your life, which of your choices do you think will have made the biggest impact?
Renee: Walking away from a job I loved and relationships that satisfied in the moment was tough; but I know those choices will all be worthwhile, because I didn’t pollute the message I have to say. God created me to send me out; and I need to be mindful and obedient to my calling, no matter how narrow and misunderstood I feel.

Dawn: I know you've struggled with fear for some time.
Renee: Yes, my life has been hung up on fear since I can remember; but 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “Do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self-discipline.” This is something I carry with me. I remind myself daily.

Dawn: Any parting words for 20-somethings? For all of us?
Renee: Spend time in the Word. Daily. Period.

To read more by Renee, check out her daily blog, Devo Diva. Get her book, Faithbook of Jesus, too!


Melinda Lancaster said...

I enjoyed this interview and the opportunity it allowed for me to know Renee better.
It's encouraging to see young believers totally sold out for God!

Dawn Wilson said...

Renee's the real deal, Melinda. No pretense; totally transparent so others can see how Jesus transforms the mind and heart.

Marja said...

Thanks Dawn and Renee for a great interview, appreciate the openess!!