“God doesn’t hide Himself from you so that He can’t be found; He hides Himself from you so that He can be found.”
(Tommy Tenney in The God Chasers)
It’s 5:30 AM on New Year’s Day 2018.
A light sprinkling of snow covers the ground and it’s 25 degrees out. Not exactly the norm in Austin, Texas!
I am reminded of a similar early morning back in Bend, Oregon on New Year’s Day 2001. Just like this morning, light snow was whirling in the breeze outside the window as I sat, with a coffee cup in hand, pondering how to begin writing personal thoughts and prayers into my first journal. I remember feeling empty and weary, hoping that somehow journaling would relieve the aching in my discouraged heart.
I was determined to begin a daily practice of journaling, one that I still do on most days.
I didn’t write much that first day – I had little to write about with a heart that felt empty. But it was a start, now a personal hallmark, because my spiritual life caught a small spark that day that has never gone out. I desperately wanted to discover a life-giving walk with God. I knew it was possible but I didn’t know how. I had attended church my entire adult life and earnestly tried to be a good Christian wife and mother. My efforts had drained me however. Something was missing and I wanted to discover what it was.
I wrote down these three goals in that first journal:
- To earnestly seek to know God and understand His nature
- Pray diligently for others
- Journal regularly
I decided to use my journal, not as a diary, but as a prayer book – a record of my spiritual journey and prayers for my family and others. I used a dated, devotional journal that first year, which kept me more accountable. And I bought a book called God Chasers, by Tommy Tenney (quote above) because the title echoed my yearning for an intimacy with God.
I now have a cupboard full of journals that are a written testimony to God’s faithfulness.
I pull out my journals from time to time when I need encouragement. They remind me of all that God has done. Looking back, I understand that a faulty view of God had left me empty and worn out. I had not fully put my hope in Christ. Instead I also assumed that God’s approval of me was based largely in my performance for Him.
I praise God daily that this is not the case. It was a deceptive view that almost devoured me. My hope now rests in Christ, who died for my inadequacies and who walks with me each day.
Fast forward to 2018.
I recently read Skye Jethani’s book: WITH. In his insightful book, the author uses prepositions (after, under over, from for) to diagnose prevailing faith theories that contain some elements of truth but wind up being deficient and unsatisfying. He concludes by describing WITH, the only paradigm by which we can experience a rich, intimate, satisfying life with God. (Read Jethani’s book for descriptions of all these paradigms)
This WITH perspective is changing me. While I still earnestly seek Him (Those who seek Me diligently find Me – Proverbs 8:17), I know that He is WITH me and abides in me. This seemingly subtle difference is having a profound effect on how I respond to external circumstances.
I want my grandchildren to gain a true prespective about God , because like me, a deficient one will lead to deficiencies in their experience, making it easier to walk away from faith all together.
My overarching prayer for them this year – is that, according to Micah 6:8, they would not only do justice and love kindness, but they would learn to walk humbly with their God.
Would you join me in praying this prayer over your children (and grandchildren)?
I encourage you to begin journaling this year if you are not already doing so. Record your own 2018 faith journey and prayers regularly. Keep a record of what God is doing in you and in your family. This year, my journey will not be about seeking after God in the same way I did in 2001, but resting in a God who walks with me always.
Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.