This week I decided to declutter and organize. I filled my car with old clothes, gadgets, household items, electronics, etc. and dropped them off to charity. Meanwhile, I found my old journals. Reading them nauseates me, because I’ve changed so much over the past few years. My worldview and attitude are so remarkably different, if these pages were not in my own handwriting, and if I didn’t have the accompanying memory of writing them, I would think they were written by someone else — someone regularly discontent, worried, and entirely too invested in the success of an organization called the institutional church.
It’s not all bad, though. There are accounts of some good relationships, some Spirit-inspired prayers, and some funny or meaningful stories. I guess that’s why I haven’t already thrown my old journals away. However, I did come up with a plan that will enable me to rid myself of some old emotional junk without losing what is of value: I’m going transfer anything worth keeping into this website in a series called Stacking Stones.
In scripture, stone-stacking happened for two reasons, to mark boundaries or as a memory or reminder of something. I’m not marking boundaries. I’m remembering who I used to be and reminding myself of how faithful God is, even when my communication with Him is so stupid, selfish, and meaningless sometimes. I’m also very grateful that it isn’t all bad. That I’ve collected quite a few spiritual gems along the way that I can place at the foot of His throne.
I randomly picked a journal. Page one is dated August 9, 2008. It’s a two-page prayer for someone I’ll call XXXXX who seems to be making decisions out of fear of losing possessions, power, and influence. I quote a lot of scripture in the prayer. For example, I write,
Someone who is without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
I quote this particular scripture in the hopes that God will open XXXXX’s eyes to what’s really going on. My major point of frustration in this prayer is, XXXXX professes to have the Spirit of God, yet XXXXX keeps making decisions out of fear or making not-so-good decisions and then expecting God to bless the outcome.
I didn’t realize then, but I realize now, that even though this prayer is entirely about and for someone else, the urgency and length of the prayer is based in my own fear that XXXXX’s decisions will have a negative impact in other’s lives, including my own. It turns out I was praying with a log in my eye, because many of my decisions at that time were also fear-based. God answered that prayer as He does with so many other prayers: “Wait.” I could say He answered with “No,” but I know that eventually spiritual discernment is something everyone will have, when God is all in all.
It’s also noteworthy that although my fears shortly come to fruition, God is and will continue to bring greater good out of a bad situation than if the whole thing were avoided through an immediate, affirmative answer to my prayer.
God does things in His own time and His own way. Maybe our prayers will have an impact on His time and way. Maybe not. The point is to talk to God, especially about fear, but in doing so, to give the fear over to God and then carry on knowing He’s got things under control. Even when the $&%! is about to hit the fan. Even then.
Two pages in the trash. A few thousand more to go…