How Will You Respond When God Calls?
Jodie Niznik leads readers through a study of an unlikely pair to learn how to live out their calling
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like Queen Esther and the prophet Jonah had much in common. Esther was an orphan girl, out of place in royal courts, who nonetheless became queen and saved her beloved Jewish people. Jonah was a reluctant prophet who ran as hard as he could from God. When he finally gave in and his efforts eventually saved his enemies, he did nothing but complain. However, in Crossroads: A Study of Esther and Jonah for Boldly Responding to Your Call (Kregel Publications/ March 16, 2021/ISBN: 9780825446733/ $16.99), Jodie Niznik leads readers through a study of this unlikely biblical pairing to discover how to live out their unique calling. While Esther and Jonah endured wildly different circumstances and had distinctly singular callings, they were both appointed by God. They were placed in a certain time and space in history. God carried them through unique experiences and gave them specific gifts. Despite their opposite attitudes of willingness, their lives are proof of the great things we can accomplish when we follow God's call.
“I love studying Esther and Jonah together because they responded to God so differently,” Niznik shares. “God placed each of them at a crossroads and asked them to fulfill an assignment that only they could accomplish, but God also gave them the choice to bravely obey . . . or not. Esther walked forward in brave, bold obedience, while Jonah literally ran the other way. It’s easy to applaud Esther in admiration of her bravery and shake our heads in condemnation at Jonah for running. But the truth is, we have a little Esther and Jonah in each of us. There are moments we feel brave and bold, and moments we turn away. Studying them together not only helps us see how to choose faithful obedience but also helps us to know God better and understand his lavish grace for us—even when we run away.”
In this nine-week inductive Bible study, Niznik invites readers to learn that each Christian is uniquely equipped and called by God for a particular assignment in a specific time and place. As each of us stands at a crossroads, the choice is ours. Will we choose to boldly respond like Esther, or will we fight our calling like Jonah? With thoughtful questions and practical exercises, Niznik will gently help each participant examine their life through the lens of Scripture and take brave, bold steps forward in their Christian walk.
“You, too, have been called by God to do good work that he has already prepared for you (Ephesians 2:10). He has given you gifts and skills. He has brought you through experiences, both good and bad, and he has placed you in this time and space in history,” Niznik writes. “All of these point to the fact that there is work not only that you have been called to do but that only you can do. And now you stand at a crossroads. What will you choose?”
Designed for either individual or group study, Crossroads is part of the Real People, Real Faith series, which combines inductive learning with practical spiritual disciplines, taking a new look at old stories to discover their many connections to life today. Niznik describes the series as character driven with lots of practical application. She invites the reader to learn in an expository way what these real people did and then take time to reflect and apply these lessons to their own lives. She starts each lesson with a spiritual practice—an activity that helps the reader move head knowledge to heart knowledge.
The first study in the series, Choose: A Study of Moses for a Life That Matters, was released last fall. God pursued Moses, calling him to step forward into leadership and miraculous events. Instead of saying no to that invitation, Moses trusted that God’s plan, however improbable it seemed, was the best way to live. Equipped with that faith, Moses led God’s people out of slavery to the land of promise, changing their entire world. Every day we’re called to follow God’s lead to do things only we can do. And like Moses, we must each choose if we will take the path God guides us to or follow our own way.
Trust: A Study of Joseph for Persevering Through Life’s Challenges is set to release in September 2021.
Click here to read an excerpt of Crossroads.
“From time to time, we all stand at crossroads, big ones that alter our life’s direction and small ones that keep us on God’s good path or divert us onto painful detours. Esther and Jonah stood there too, and each responded differently, teaching us valuable lessons for today. Niznik’s fresh approach tells it like it really was . . . and is. Each weekly lesson includes a practice session to help us apply gleaned wisdom for navigating our own crossroads. Jodie’s studies move us toward transformative biblical literacy and an action-packed faith that lives what’s learned. I trust her studies and you can too.”
~ Sue Edwards, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and author of the Discover Together Bible Study series
“Every follower of Jesus comes to defining moments of deciding either to follow the whispers of God or to ignore that voice and go our own way. With tremendous skill and insight, Jodie Niznik digs into two remarkable Old Testament stories—Esther and Jonah. This study will stretch and challenge you as Jodie guides with wisdom and practical application each step of the way.”
~ Nancy Beach, leadership coach with the Slingshot Group and author of Gifted to Lead
About the AuthorJodie Niznik has served in various roles on the pastoral team at her church over the last twelve years, including pastor to women. Her calling and passion is to equip people to take the next step in their journey with Jesus. She loves to write about and teach scriptural truths in practical and easy-to-understand ways.
Niznik has an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in Christian education with an emphasis in women’s ministry from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is the author of Crossroads: A Study of Esther and Jonah for Boldly Responding to Your Call and Choose: A Study of Moses for a Life That Matters, and the coauthor of Galatians: Discovering Freedom in Christ Through Daily Practice with Sue Edwards. She is also the host of the So Much More podcast.
Niznik and her husband, Tim, live in the Dallas area and have two young adult daughters, Taylor and Billie. The Nizniks miss their daughters but love their quiet Saturdays. Niznik believes gummy bears and coffee are sweet gifts from the Lord that provide fuel as she writes Bible studies and prepares biblical teachings.