Seeing God’s Faithfulness in the Rearview Mirror

Years ago, I began journaling. I still journal to this day, though I tend to write in spurts. For awhile, I may write every week, but then months may lapse before I sit down and try once again to articulate my thoughts.

While I didn’t necessarily start out with this very great benefit to my future self in mind, what has become very apparent is the often-repeated truth that writing my thoughts down today gives me a really powerful proof of God’s work in my life in the future.

Today, I’d like to offer one example so you can better see what I mean. Below is very first journal entry. I wrote this in mid-April, 2006, while my husband Warren and I were anxiously awaiting the unplanned (yet thrilling!) birth of our youngest son.

It’s late, and I can’t sleep. I’m in a contemplative mood and Eli is awake and active within me, so I wasn’t doing anyone any good by tossing and turning in bed. I find when my mind is full, I won’t rest well unless I attempt to empty it.

So many things on my mind…Mary’s impending birthday, her 13th. Finances, and the uncertainty of all that once Elijah is born and I leave The Crossing staff. But mostly, I think, I am in awe of how very much, very often and very significantly I see the hand of God moving in my life, and the lives of my family. I am both comforted by and somewhat fearful of that knowledge. Comforted in that the God of the universe, the All-Knowing, All-Powerful Mighty One cares enough about me that He has His eye on the details of my tiny little life. He cares about me, loves me, wants the best for me. But the Almighty, in caring for me, uses methods that defy human logic to forward His will. I have watched Him force me into a relationship of the most antagonistic I’ve ever witnessed up close – to break my pride, teach me patience, forbearance. And even as this continues to be a difficult situation, I see Him winning the battle with my proud heart, and it makes me wonder…where will you go next with me, Lord?

Even as I think that, I am ashamed that I resist what trials God may ask me to endure. Tonight is Good Friday, and at the service we attended, it occurred to me yet again – as the re-telling of the passion brought Christ to life the day he died – He gave up so much for me. He endured such pain, ridicule and brutality for me. Am I really unwilling to turn around and give to Him whatever He asks of me?

No, I’m not unwilling. I am weak, and I am sometimes scared, but I am not unwilling. I will trust my God completely that He is caring for me in the way I need it best. I will pray that He use me to glorify Himself. Lord, stay near to me and keep me from wandering away from you. Give me the strength to manage with grace the challenges you send to me. Lord, let me be a strong and loving wife to my greatest treasure, my husband. He is my rock in this world and a daily source of joy. Keep my love for him strong and unfailing; don’t ever let me hurt or disappoint him. Lord, let me a devoted and loving mother to my children. Strengthen my patience, and give me the wisdom to know how and when to speak truth to my babies. Let my love for each one be so strong and consistent that they will never question it, never feel alone. In other words, Lord, let it be, as close as it can be, a model of your unfailing love for me.

Thank you, Father, for your love, which gave Jesus up for my sake. I don’t always understand it, but I trust it, and I am deeply grateful.

I have a habit of picking up journals occasionally and flipping back a few years to read what was going on in my heart back then. It’s easy to forget, and I found this “reminder” I’ve left for myself to be invaluable.

Where will you go next with me, Lord?

Back in 2006, the difficult relationship I mentioned was with one of our ex-spouses, and though by April 2006 it was already one I found challenging, what I did not know at that time was that it was going to get much, much harder. When I wrote about being fearful of the trials God might have in mind for me, I had no idea how hard it might get. When I asked God for the strength to manage “with grace” the challenges He would send to me, I had no idea how faithful he would be to that request. It could only be by God’s grace that Warren and I survived 2008-2009.

I’m still weak. I still get scared sometimes. But my fear does not get a chance to live as long in the dark corners of my thoughts before I drag it out into the truth of God’s faithfulness. Through my own journaling, I have incontrovertible proof that God was always at work, even often unseen at the time but always there. In the last ten years, since becoming a Christian, I have lived through so many evidences of God’s faithfulness to me personally. How can I not rely on God, who changeth not, when I face trials today, trusting Him to do as He has done for me over and over again? I may not like the outcome in the here and now, but we are not called to understand God’s purposes. We are simply called to trust and believe Him when he says, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Sometimes we all feel alone. Forsaken. Sometimes what God says and what we see God doing in our own lives feels very different; it feels like He’s not keeping His word to us. If that’s how it feels to you, one practical thing you might consider doing is pick up a pen and paper, and write down what you are going through and your thoughts about that situation. Be honest about what you’re struggling with, and keep it up.

Then? Wait.

One of these days, you may be able to look back on the frightened thoughts of your past self and realize God had been with you all along, giving you the grace to get through whatever trial you’re living through, and that you are a better (or at least more faithful) person for it.

Joshua 4:19-24 (ESV)
The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

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