I journal in spurts; always very early in the morning when my home is quiet and my time is mine to spend as I like. This time around it had been a while since my last entry. I’d had a frustrating few months of running my head against a wall, repeatedly, with no solution in sight. Let’s just say I had a bit to write about.
“Seek and you will find” from Matthew 7 and Luke 11, refers to seeking God and his kingdom, but it also applies in a general sense that what you spend your time looking for, you will find. If you’re looking to vent frustration and anger, you’ll find it; but if finding a solution is more important to you and you’re willing to listen for the answer, you’ll find that, too. Journaling can help set aside the things you struggle against, allowing you to hear God’s voice more clearly. I spent six pages talking about the problem with which I’d been wrestling. I wasn’t trying to formulate anything, I simply started writing and it took off on its own.
At first I just laid it all out there, my disappointment and frustration; then I talked about the underlying causes that I could see. “I don’t know what to do,” made it onto the page as I talked about the things I’d already tried to solve the issue. I wrapped up with a possible solution I’d been thinking and praying about.
I’m not a fan of ranting. It’s negative and stirs up anger. Pouring your heart out in honesty sounds like the same thing, but comes from a different heart attitude. Think of the difference between David writing his Psalms as he is hunted and hiding in caves, and the Israelites grumbling in the wilderness because they’re tired of the diet that is freely dropped from the heavens every morning.
Even when it comes to pouring out our doubts, frustration and hopelessness in difficult times, there comes a time when we need to grow beyond complaining and look up, to go to a place of trust before we sink into despondency. So, having dropped my shield of faith (my shield of trust in God,) I poured out my doubts and sadness, and tried to set it all aside.
I moved on to, “On a brighter note,” and went into how I’m loving my Bible time and reading more George MacDonald. That was when I had an “Aha!” moment. I believe it came because I laid the problem aside and returned my focus to God himself. I saw the real cause of my problem, though not a solution, and the parallel with the Matthew 13 parable about the sower and the seed that fell on different kinds of soil.
That parable used to leave me feeling hopeless. If a person’s heart and mind are set a certain way, what hope is there? Are they destined to have stony hearts that won’t let seeds take root; or never be free of the thorns that choke out the good that could change them? No, because we are never left without promise.
There is hope for hearts that aren’t receptive, whatever the reason. Farmers amend soil all the time. They remove stones and thorns, they add black dirt, nutrients and fertilizers to give it life and to soften the ground. They water dry, cracked earth, sometimes saturating it until it can’t take any more.
Who then, amends the soil of the human heart? Not I. I cannot do it; it is not mine. I can’t know what stones to remove. I would over water, or under fertilize. It is God’s great pleasure to cultivate the living soil of his children’s hearts. I can pray, softening my own heart and reminding myself that God was tilling the soil before I knew it needed tending. He lets me help, as long as I don’t get in the way. When I stop beating my head against that wall, I can hear God’s message to me gently, softly repeated, “Trust me. This is not yours. It’s mine. Trust me.” My hands should be filled with the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. My heart with obedience.
In my journal I can lay my burdens down, returning my focus to God. Of course, I’d rather not need the reminder that my focus has slipped, like Peter walking on the water to Jesus, but as soon as our eyes meet again, I’m back on my feet, and he’s got me by the hand. It’s so important that we go on seeking and continue knocking, not for solutions to problems, but for God himself. We could never discover in this lifetime the depths of whom we seek. We find him, and he opens the door, but there is always more to find and another door to walk through. Even in the little issues of our daily lives, he is the grand and loving mystery, and he waits for our knock.