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Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I am cleaning out old files this week, and find myself thumbing through old journals. I've never thought of myself as someone who journals well. Nevertheless, I find that I have journals going back several years now. They're not always daily entries. They seem to come in spurts of sorts, with some unexplained gaps in between.

The things I write in my journal most intrigue me. They tend to reflect about three different things. First, they reflect what I'm learning about God and through God's leadership in my life. Second, they tend to reflect my pain - including my fears. And third, they reflect observations I apparently tend to make about others in my circumstances.

Looking at journal entries in 2004, I see that it was a year of great transition for me. The things I journaled about that year were incredibly diverse! Let's take a look.

Apparently I felt myself sliding into poverty ... and wondered how I'd perform in poverty. Would I know how to be poor? Would I be able to do it well? What would poverty teach me?

Someone whom I loved and respected sat me down and told me I was not a gifted speaker. He said I was holding ministry back in our church ... and needed to get out of the way. In that same meeting, he also accused me of being "too spiritual, too Biblical and too Scriptural." It was a painful experience. I remember that it undermined my self-confidence a great deal. As I recall, my teaching and preaching suffered for quite a while thereafter.

Ironically, just last night, someone told me I'm a very gifted speaker ... and that God is using me for great growth in our church. Which is the truth? Could both be true - at different times?

Another aspect of my journaling seems to be my confession of sins. I've often found myself alone in my own spiritual journey, without someone whom I could confess my sins to. So I've journaled them. Reading back through those journal entries, I see great conviction. I was truly grieved by my own sin. I confessed it, condemned it --- and pleaded with God to lead me out of it.

Now that last part is one of those embarrassing parts. It's kind of like when you look back at the things you did when you were younger, and you're not so proud of them. I see that in journaling about my sin, I was often trying to use something like "the power of positive thinking" to address it. Apparently I thought if I wrote strongly enough about it, that in itself would resolve habitual sin patterns in my life (such as gluttony or unforgiveness). What a fool I've been at times.

On my 21st wedding anniversary, I journaled about how I love and cherish my wife. I prayed that she would know how much I love and cherish her. I asked God to fill all of her needs, and give her peace and joy in this marriage - as He's given me. That seems like a virtuous prayer. I wonder if she would consider it an answered one today.

Well, the stacks of old journals are here to be gone through. I wonder if they have any value other than to me when I wrote them. Did they keep me sane? Lamentations 3:40 says, "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." I suppose in several ways, my journaling efforts have largely been about that. They don't indicate the guy I want to be. Rather they reflect that guy examining his ways and testing them, as he seeks the Lord.

I don't know that I want to hold onto these journals forever. I'm not sure they matter that much now. But as I look back at the hundreds of hours that I've spent journaling over the years, I'm glad I wrote them. I suspect that, even though I can't see it or measure it, I am a better man today because of it.

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