Sometimes I wonder why I keep a journal. I honestly don’t remember why I started one - it probably had something to do with the notion that keeping a journal was somehow an old-fashioned, romantic concept - but eventually I realized a journal was very therapeutic. It was a safe way to vent the frustrations and joys of life while I tried to figure out who God wanted me to be. Time passed and I eventually kept writing in the hope that my volumes might be a way for my husband to share my history . . . maybe a way to understand my heart better.
More than once I’ve wondered about the wisdom of that. The longer I write the more material I compile for future self condemnation. And yet, still, I write. Sometimes not because I want to, but because I cannot escape the need to write.
My friend Danielle once referred to her own journaling habits as her “omer of manna”.
And Moses said, this is the thing with the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth form the land of Egypt. Exodus 16:32
It changed the way I view my own journal. Suddenly it wasn’t about just me venting and processing the events that make up life: it was about keeping a record of what God was doing in my life - how He was growing, changing and feeding me.
I’m not perfect. (Ask either of my sisters – their confirmation will be prompt and detailed.) And not everything I’ve recorded over the years has value. There have been occasions when I’ve thought about culling old volumes that demonstrate a discouraging lack of higher vision and paint me in all my self-centered ugliness. I’ve considered burning offending bits of my history in an attempt to expunge the shame and regret. But in the end I’ve always chosen to keep them because someday they may provide the opportunity to show my children what path not to choose; what choice not to make; where that attitude will land her.
More than once I’ve been encouraged by the opportunity to look back and see how God worked. I can look back and see how a lot of the moments I thought were unfairly difficult were actually not as dire as I thought they were; I can see how God provided for me in many situations; how, oh look at that, my parents were right after all. (Go figure :)
I do not, as a general rule, spend a lot of time re-reading through my own history. But recently I have dug a few volumes out and traced back to see where I was at this time last year. What was God teaching me? What was I learning at this time two, or even three years ago? More often than not when I've taken trips down memory lane, I’ve discovered that there are common threads being carefully woven by God’s hand. More often than not they have been preparation for the path I am currently walking in the present. Being reminded, by events from my own history that God hasn’t left me yet, that He won’t leave the work He started in my heart half done is encouraging. And it gives me hope for the shadowed moments that I walk now – hope that this, today, is preparing me for whatever He has coming next.
So I wanted to take a moment to encourage you: whether you choose to keep a journal, a diary, a prayer list, a scrap book, a photo album . . . find a way to keep hold of the lessons God is working in your heart. Deliberately record the ways He blesses you. Fill your ‘omer of manna’, not just for the generation to come – but for yourself as well. We forget so soon.