Journal of Grace
From as far back as I can remember I have loved journaling and beginning around middle school most of my writing became prayers or poetry. Not long ago I came across one of my old journals written when I was an Adventist. I opened the cover and began reading from the end of 2008. I was struck by the sincerity with which I had longed to know God, the assurance that God was calling me to something, and the fear that He would leave me on a moments notice if I sinned. I felt His calling and I feared His abandonment and my inadequacy.
“…I know I must be hard to be around a lot of the time…I wonder how often my angels or your Spirit flee from me when I am so full of my sinful ways…I am lost without you. Please, NEVER LEAVE ME!! ” I blamed the distance between God and I on my coping skills, “I emotionally disconnect…Lord, give me new coping skills so I can be close to you…!”
Many of my prayers were pleadings for Him to not leave me and calling out to Him in confession that my life was worthless without Him. I had tasted His peace at different points in my life and I knew His voice because I felt Him calling me away from something, though I didn’t know what.
“A road lay out before me. It is long, I don’t see where it leads. It looks ominous, eery, scary. The thought of treading on it, with nothing but barren land on either side, no sign of rest stops or reprieve, well…it makes me feel sick…I am already so behind in life, I cannot afford this detour!”
Following that entry I wrote out Jesus assertion in Matt. 11:29-30 that His burden is light, then responded with,
“How can walking through a desolate, dark, decimated valley be a ‘light burden’?”
I knew I was not fully His. I had no idea what I was withholding other than absolute obedience (a moral, self-controlled life) so I tried desperately to battle my sin and plead for His help. I would occasionally ask Him to make me willing to go where He was leading.
“Take my hand, hold my babies, and let’s go… Make my spirit willing to do what you need from me!”
That year my husband and I began to ask questions of our faith. I had no way of knowing it, but God had carefully lead me down that scary path to the very throne of my idols, the Sabbath and my identity in our community. The last entry in this journal was written a year after the excerpts above, just four months before I would be taught the gospel of scripture and believe. In this last entry I was asking the Lord’s direction in different areas of our life and this was my last paragraph written before being born again:
“…More than anything, I pray that you lead us in the direction you would have us go concerning your Sabbath. My heart aches over where we have gone in this matter. We will lose so much if we leave this community. God, impress Carel to move into action regarding being a part of a community of believers. And Lord, keep me patiently in step with where you want me too… Be near me all day and give me your Spirit!”
Years later, as I reread my journal prayer asking for the Lord’s guidance on the Sabbath and being a part of a community of believers, the tears flowed freely. I recalled that just four months after that entry my husband began praying about attending a “Sunday church”. When I resisted, the Lord put Galatians in my lap and the Sabbath idol was shattered! His word gave me the courage to walk away from my identity and into the community of believers my husband had asked me to consider joining. In February of 2010, I heard and believed in the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation (Eph. 1:13,14) and I was born again!
I don’t remember doing it, but apparently a year after that last entry I went back to that journal and wrote,
“Thank you for teaching us about Sabbatismos… and placing us in a family of believers…”
Closing the journal, with tear-stained cheeks, I knew in a new way that the Lord had been guiding me all along. I had not seen my story from the perspective of my prayer journal till the afternoon I picked up that old journal. All those times of desperation were His design. All that suffering and pleading was meant to reveal my need. I needed the gospel. I needed the truth about Jesus! It was faith in the Word of truth and the finished work of Christ that I had been withholding. It was that simple.
Our Father is sovereign. Our Lord did what He says He did, “It is finished,” and He will do what He says He will do, “… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (Jn. 14:3b).” I did not map out my journey. As you can see, I barely wanted to embark on it! No, “Twas grace that brought me safe thus far,” my sovereign Father called me to Himself, and because I know this, I also know that, “…grace will lead me home!”