In the past few weeks, I have begun a monumental task – something I have been meaning to do for a very long time, but have been putting off. Perhaps, I have been spurred on to finally take the leap with the recent passing of my 40th birthday. As my son so eloquently said, “You are now on the downturn of your life.” Thanks so much for that. I’ve always much preferred making my way downhill rather than uphill anyway. Since I have crested the hill, I figured the wisest thing I can do to celebrate my descent is to go through my piles of journals. I am not one to reread journals much. I write them, close them and stick them in my closet, which is how I have come to have 25 journals waiting to be reopened or hoping to never be found. You decide.
I would like to tell you that my reason for reopening my past writings is strictly for nostalgia, but in reality, I am afraid I will die and someone else will read my journals. That is the truth. “Ah, Here are Wendy’s journals! Let’s see what she wrote – God bless her soul.” Nightmares are made of that kind of thing.
Journals are where I bleed my heart out and let God give me His perspective. My journal is my altar where I lay out my fears, failures, insecurities, pain, hopes and dreams and ask God to exchange my perspective for His. Honestly, it has taken a monumental amount of courage to pull out those dusty journals and read what has been recorded over the past 20 years. I knew they held much joy and pain, but I also knew there were treasures buried in the dust of the many words that I wanted to find. I knew they held beauty. What I have found has been nothing short of miraculous really.
This is what I’ve found. God is 100% faithful. All the time. I have only gone through two journals and I have already been in tears over how God’s quiet movements have infiltrated my life. For every one I have seen, there have been many more I didn’t see or had forgotten. Prayers that were but a breath have been answered. I can see seasons of preparation for the next season that proved to be so very difficult. I didn’t even know I was being prepared. Even now as I read, my filter for those seasons shifts from feeling forgotten to knowing I was so dearly loved.
A year to the day before a particularly difficult season began, I had recorded in my journal that He was telling me that over the next year, He would be preparing me for a difficult season. He would be teaching me to stand and know His love for me in spite of what circumstances look like. When I saw that in my dusty journal, I reread those precious words 1,000 times in a row it seems. Even seeing Him working before the difficult season brought another level of healing for that time that He felt so far off. He indeed was not. It just confirmed again that He knows and He wraps Himself around our lives even when we are unaware.
When my identity was distorted by life and circumstance, He lovingly stated my identity in Him and the way He sees me day after day after day after day. There is literally an entire journal where I poured out my brokenness on tear stained page after tear stained page. My identity caught up in everything but Him. Words that had been spoken, failures I had lived, disappointments I had, hurts I was grappling with – life. My severely distorted view of both me and Him. And yet He spoke – the same thing every. single. day – chipping away at the distorted view and speaking truth. I said the same thing virtually every day and so did He. I have been overcome rereading His words with my clearer view. I know I didn’t get it then, but all of those words of healing spoken were Him building a new framework. He patiently spoke day after day, chipping away at the distorted view of an angry, hard to please God that I couldn’t seem to get near to. I didn’t know that the angry voice was condemnation and shame masquerading as God. Even though I couldn’t see it, He was near. Patiently working, He was quietly dismantling my mangled view of Him so that I would KNOW He is near – always. His nearness to me didn’t depend on my perception of how near He was and it doesn’t now. He was near. He is near.
Tracing the path of the restorative power of God in my life, I am learning that restoration takes time, but God is not worried about that. In fact, I am quite certain that He will be restoring until the day I die.This is the power of the Cross. He paid for the restoration of all of us on that violent day. Walking with Him, our story becomes one of redemption, freedom and grace.
Looking through my journals, I feel as if I have caught Him in the act of lovingly writing and infiltrating my story. Like catching an elusive shadow or the blowing wind. I have always known He is involved, but seeing the record of His movements in my life have made me fall for Him even more. I know that I can indeed trust Him with those things I am carrying today. Fears don’t seem quite as insurmountable and I have a renewed hope that this God who has created all hears every word I speak to Him. Those whispers and shouts don’t fall on deaf ears, but go to straight to the heart of the God who hears all things.
And so it is with you. This is the story of mankind and the God who is relentless in His love, infinite in His wisdom and tireless in His restoration of broken souls. Whether you are aware or are not, He is infiltrating your story. Always seeking to restore, bring wholeness and bring you near. Friends, be encouraged. He is writing your story of redemption and grace even as you read this.
These are truly the words of my life:
Psalm 73: 21-25 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.