"Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits." --Psalm 103:1-2
With a sense of sober nostalgia, I open my spiritual growth journal to the very last page. The very first page of a nearly four and a half year long faith journey with Jesus. How would I end? What would I say? While it is merely the end of this particular journal with far more to come ahead, it is still the culmination of the Lord’s work in my life for nearly half a decade.
Many memories flood back into my mind’s eye, starting with the day I picked out this very journal from the bookstore. I was keenly aware that it’s thickness would take me some time to fill. It felt a bit daunting at the time, but also intimate somehow, like the beginning of a long journey together with a best friend. I softly smile because, after all, that’s exactly what it was.
The top left corner of my blank page contains the image of a bird in flight, positioned as if it’s going to fly right off the page. The image feels appropriate. This is the end of one life chapter, and the beginning of a new one.
I flip back to the very first page, curious to see exactly where I began. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’ll find. Fears? Complaints? Direction through my challenges? The good Lord knows I’ve had my share of those!
Instead, I find this:
I love you, my child. Write this down: You will not always understand the journey, but you will always understand each step I am asking you to take. The landing spaces and vistas will be beautiful. Your destination is to land in My arms. The rest is all secondary.
Holy Spirit words from a holy, loving God. I ruminate for a moment on the profound truth these words contain, and how I’ve seen them play out in most unexpected ways over these last 51 months. My joyful spaces have been rich and abundant, though I have not always understood where the Lord was leading. Yet each step had been clear, even if that step had been to be still. To calmly wait for His leading through prayer and bible study.
On the bottom of those first pages, I notice a quote that says: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
The truth of these words floods my soul. Emotion wells up as memories and experiences too profound to put articulate come rushing in like a strong, high tide. Life lessons, hard fought for, and victories that defy reason; the ongoing spiritual warfare and the beneficial mind change it has produced. The humbling awareness that while God is constantly renewing my mind and clearing my vision to see this world from His perspective, it’s always an ongoing process. A journey that is the most rewarding, challenging and freeing voyage I will ever take.
I turn to the last page, writing as honestly as I can, and the words simply flow.
Four years—almost 4 ½ years. Four years of hopes and dreams. Tears and hurts. Fears and triumphs. In the last 4 years so much has happened, so beyond what I’m capable of predicting. Yet through it all, Lord, I see Your sovereign hand. Always reaching for me. Always with a heart of love, compassion and grace. Gently but firmly moving me forward even as You tend my wounds and protect my heart and my spirit with Yours.
Truly I am blessed. I see You working miracles all around me and, if I’m honest, I see you working those through me and in me. Praise You for Your glorious grace! Praise You for Your never-ending kindness! Praise You for choosing to use me, flaws and all. Praise Your Holy name! Amen.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
There are many benefits to keeping a journal that captures your time with God. Not only does it give you a reference point to look back on, but it also becomes a sort of monument to what God has done in your life. Its pages become filled with prayers, both answered and unanswered. Hopes, fears, goals, hurts, triumphs, life lessons: it’s all captured within those pages.
With each journal, I always tab the pages where I gained some kind of new insight, received a powerful word from the Lord, or is meaningful for the long-haul to me. Then, when I finish filling the pages, I can go back over those tabbed pages. This practice allows me to reflectively think through the current and future applications of what I’ve learned. To remember with rich clarity all the ways God has been moving in my life. And to capture any Holy Spirit moments I might have missed and revisit them over the upcoming weeks until I begin to internalize them.
Whether you choose a hard copy book or a digital journal (I use both), I encourage you to give it a try! You don’t have to be a writer to do one. Journals are such personal spaces! Some people's journals are full of pictures, drawings and visual representations of what they’re experiencing; others are a collection of quotes, scriptures and bullet-point prayers. Whatever form your journal takes, recording the journey allows you reference points to remember how God has moved, in order to celebrate the victories and internalize the life lessons. It is a powerful snapshot of your journey.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that reflection and spending time in God’s word is absolutely crucial to genuine spiritual growth! Reflect on the following scriptures and how they apply to you personally.
“Revel in his holy Name, God-seekers, be jubilant! Study God and his strength, seek his presence day and night; remember all the wonders he performed, the miracles and judgments that came out of his mouth.” (1 Chronicles 16:10-12 MSG)
“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143:5 NIV)
“God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won't follow sinners or join in sneering at God. Instead, they find happiness in the Teaching of the Lord, and they think about it day and night. They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed n everything they do.” (Psalm 1:1-3 CEV)
Papa, I am so in awe of how you show up in my life time after time. Thank you for the gift of words that create a map of my spiritual journey. No matter where I look, you are there, guiding and supporting me through the ups and downs of my life. I know you will never stop, and that is amazing. I love you. Amen.
To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury or to invite her to speak at your next event, CLICK HERE.