Over the last 10 years of dating and marriage, my husband Casey and I have lived in 4 different countries, and with that comes lots of packing, unpacking, selling, and storing. Although we don’t have many material possessions stored away, one thing I refused to part with were my stacks and stacks of old journals I’ve accumulated over the years. I still remember that very first floral one I purchased from Target my freshmen year of college when I first started walking with the Lord.
I haven’t actually taken the time to sit down and count how many I have, but if I were to guess, there would be a couple boxes full of them, probably 40-50 in all. Over the last several years, as consecutive kiddos have filled our home, the journaling time has significantly dwindled, but I still cherish the moments where I’m able to pour out my heart to the Lord in this way.
There is something so special and humbling about looking back and seeing the way the Lord has continually answered prayer, time and time again. His faithfulness and kindness towards me are so evident as I pour over past requests and see the way His loving and gracious hand orchestrated countless details, situations, and experiences in ways I never could on my own.
However, the other day, as I was looking through an old journal from several years ago, I felt myself start to get discouraged. As I was reading about different sins and strongholds I was facing from years ago, frustration and annoyance welled up in me, as I realized these struggles from back then, are things I’m still battling with today. “Why Lord? Can’t I figure this out already??? I’ve been walking with you for almost 15 years now, and my flesh still battles the same temptations now as I do then?” All of these thoughts flooded my mind for quite a while, and yet God was gracious to remind me of His truth and goodness.
In a daily devotion I’m reading called New Morning Mercies, the author Paul Tripp, says this, “The reality is that if we followed Jesus for a thousand years, we would need His grace as much for the next day as we did the first day that we believed. We are not spiritually independent in any way. The opposite is true. Just as in the first moment we believed, we are ALWAYS completely DEPENDENT on the grace of the Savior for EVERY spiritual need.”
Does that mean I can just rest in my sin? To say “Well, its no use! I’ve always been this way, always struggled with this, so no point in continuing to battle this stronghold?” No, definitely not! I should always be seeking to surrender these persistent struggles to the Lord, taking action to fight against them, and aiming to look back and see proof of victory in these areas. God never wants me to be satisfied in my sin. BUT, at the same time, I’m realizing more and more that as we live life on this fallen earth, that the same temptation and struggles will always be there. And that is okay because it draws me to my knees. It makes me see that I am completely dependent on the grace of Jesus every. single. moment. It makes me so very grateful and thankful for God’s relentless and unending patience with me.
So as I pour through old journals, I can rejoice in my challenges and struggles because although I am forgetful and flaky, God is so very faithful. He will never give up on me. And I can look forward with anticipation, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6