As a college freshman taking Old Testament Survey, I began to journal. Quite simply, I typed a list of Bible verses at the end of each month, one special verse for each day. The first Christmas Dave and I were married (1968), I wrote our Christmas letter as a story of Li’l Red Riding Hood and the Wolfe. Somehow I didn’t think I’d continue yearly editions, so I didn’t even save copies of the early letters. Over the years I journaled in fits and starts, but when we moved to the cabin in November 2008, the size of the box marked “journals” surprised me. Someday, I thought, I ought to get those in order and read a bit of history.
A winter that brings over 260 inches of snow makes me tackle crazy, long overdue projects. So, armed with masking tape and a Sharpie, I began to place masking tape on the front of each volume and writing the inclusive dates on each journal. My inauspicious early tomes, now yellow with age in spiral notebooks, gave way to capricious floral covers, fake velvets and stately leather books. I skimmed some volumes and noted particular events of that time period, i.e, Mom’s death, or Brent and Becky’s engagement. Some days I slowed down the overall project by reading the entire journal. Having accomplished the labeling and tasting of a bit of the writing, these first three impressions surfaced.
Over forty years thousands of prayer requests went before the Lord. I read prayer lists about battles of the flesh, death, disappointment, sins of various types and degrees. Also, I smiled over people’s successes, education completed, marriages, babies, finances, people who came to faith in Christ, people who, with God’s grace, junked many bad habits. And I laughed about all the prayer requests for cars! Probably because Dave and I worked with College & Career for 8 years,I taught high school students,and had two sons, I prayed countless times for cars that broke down or needed to be replaced. At one point I was convinced that there would be no cars in heaven because Revelation speaks of no tears there! Conclusion: God hears and answers the prayers offered in faith in accordance with His will. We don’t just toss words off the ceiling, but we have a most elementary understanding of the One to whom we pray and how He answers. While still very much a child learning to pray, I know God answers. The topic of prayer will find its way into future journals.
Bible reading/studying, even in small snippets, have framed most days of my life. I found the day I first realized the exact meaning of Isaiah 64:6 “all our righteousness is as filthy rags.” Exact and graphic! Written hundreds of years ago, Scripture continually infused my life with purpose and meaning. My paraphrases of portions of Scripture recalled special times of communion with Christ. I saw the day the Lord had opened my eyes to new things. Information I had shared in Bible studies for years had a day of personal discovery. Sharper than any two-edged sword, the Bible lives; it shows me truths and won’t let me ignore my motivation. God speaks through it whenever I will read and seek the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding and applying it.
Looking over the four decades, I realized life moved at a frantic pace most of the time. I stumbled through experiences, missed the important because of the tyranny of the urgent, and got many things wrong. Too many times in my mother’s final months of life, I didn’t write about her at all. Yet, God repeatedly gave me grace. His comfort held me then and He confirmed His love for her and for me in the verses of Scripture I read and the children’s Bible songs I sang back to her in the waning hours of her life.
Winter’s not over yet here in the mountains of western Maryland, but I’ve already gleaned three important insights from my journals. Guess I’ll keep on reading a bit here and there. God’s faithful and I believe nothing in my life has been wasted. I think you’ll find the same true in your life as you take inventory over the way God has sovereignly directed your life. Happy winter project!