Written expression has generally been easier for me than speaking, and the stack of journals which have traveled with me since my mid-teen years testify to the fact. They continue to travel with me because I like looking back to see “on the ground” responses to events whose memories become less sharp as time passes. More recent journals serve as memorials to what I have learned from God through sermons, Bible study and prayer. Those are good reminders.
A less pleasant reminder is buried in a set of journals spanning from my late teens through my undergraduate college years. Those were dark years, populated by a dense, suffocating fear. Fear of who I was, fear of who God was. I don’t like to dwell on those years except to use them to mark the distance that God has carried me forward since that time.
I no longer fear God with a craven, despairing fear: afraid that I was not among the “elect,” afraid that He was not satisfied with my performance. I have beheld His glory in the person of Jesus. I have seen a holy, loving God come near and draw me to Himself with love and truth–at cost to Himself. I am learning that, to loosely quote an old favorite, He is not tame, but He is good. He is good to establish me in His love, and He is good to allow me to walk through circumstances that exercise my faith.
Recently, I was thinking that this life with Christ is very much like one of the mountain hikes that Jason and I took in the Smokies during our last vacation. Steep as some of the trails were, there didn’t simply go up and up and up. There were spots to rest, some of them overlooks–brief level places where you could rest and look back over the last stretch of the trail.
In my daily life, I am familiar with these resting spots. Places where I can look back over the sections where I toiled and stumbled, simply putting one food in front of another, blind to the view around as I focused on my footing. Then, too, I can look back and see how the struggle trained and exercised me. However, gratifying as the resting spot is, I can’t stop and make myself at home there. I must continue upward as He works out His redemptive work in me.