Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.
I live to hear the voice of the Lord. There is absolutely nothing more empowering, uplifting and life-changing for me than hearing the Father, our Creator, our Redeemer talk to me personally about what I am going through. I yearn to hear His perspective on the external and internal struggles I’m facing and about the vision of where I’m headed. This is the most incredible part of being in relationship with Jesus, as far as I’m concerned.
Most religions have rules and doctrine and have good works that people are supposed to do. But the Christian faith has a risen, living Savior who still speaks to his disciples and calls us His friends.
My journals are filled with notes I have taken when I have stilled my heart and allowed the Lord to speak to me. Below is one of those journal entries.
Here’s the backstory: My husband and I were encountering a difficult season. For me, much of the challenge was with thoughts and fears inside my head that were overwhelming me. My fears were like virtual reality goggles: everything I saw in my mind’s eye was making me stop dead in my tracks, even though the Lord had promised me that He was working on my behalf in the challenging areas.
My husband and I were also facing financial and relational issues with family members that were making us stressed and sad. John and I have found that it’s hard to encourage your spouse when you’re down yourself!
Words in Red are excerpts from my journal as I have been taking the words of Jesus and letting them speak directly to my own heart.
John 6:61 “Does this offend you?”
Lord Jesus, I honestly have to admit that there have been many times that I have been offended by You. When I was a young, immature Christian everything about You seemed so neat and tidy. Before long, I started creating a nice doctrine where You answer every prayer the way I pray it, and behave according to my interpretation of how God should behave.
Fortunately and unfortunately, You are not containable in a theological box of my creation. The only way You could mature me and bring me to a deeper understanding of Who You are was to smash the box.
I remember one time when You didn’t answer my prayers regarding something really big. When the opposite of what I prayed for happened, I thought I wouldn’t make it. I thought John and I would be ruined – and I was offended by You.
I broke my toe on the last day of my vacation. I came back to the beach house to begin cleaning and doing the loads of laundry that needed to get started when I hit a small wooden stool with my baby toe. As I looked down, the small toe on my left foot was pointing West! Not good. I thought I must have dislocated the toe and having done that previously on the other foot, I tried to pull the toe back into the joint. No luck – only searing pain. Then I allowed my adult son to try his hand at getting the errant digit back into line. I bit down hard while he tugged and pulled. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. My husband and I decided that I was going to require a visit to the Emergency Department at the local hospital.
When we arrived, the waiting room was packed. I overheard a very irate wife of an elderly man blow her steam off at a nurse telling her that they had been waiting for over two hours to be seen. UGH. This was NOT how I wanted to spend my last evening of vacation. My son was returning to his home in another state the next day and every minute with him and his lovely fiancée was precious. The thought of wasting hours watching CNN in the waiting room was making my head pop off. I felt antsier than a kindergartner sitting through a Vagner opera.
If bitterness was collateral, then Naomi would have been a millionaire. Naomi was a woman in the Bible who had seen her share of sad days, losing her husband and then both of her sons. These losses and the accompanying grief were compounded by financial distress. Because of the culture she was living in, not having a male to provide for her, be it a husband, a son or a grandson, put Naomi in a very stressful and scary position. Furthermore, she had two daughter-in-laws to worry about. They were lovely girls, mind you, but they were more mouths to feed. So she told her daughter-in-laws that they should return home to their families, something that was not in accordance with the custom of the day. But Naomi didn’t know what else to do. She planned on returning to her family in Israel and hoping for the best. Maybe someone would have pity on her and take her in. Otherwise, she would become a beggar on the street – as if life hadn’t been hard enough on this older woman who was just trying to get through each day under the intense weight of her sadness. Have you ever felt so sad that you no longer cared what happened to you? Naomi felt this way. And I’m sure just trying to think about how to take care of her daughter-in-laws while struggling under the pressure of grief and financial strain was too much for her.
One of the daughters agreed to go home to her family but the other daughter-in-law, Ruth, begged to stay with Naomi. So Naomi brought Ruth with her back to Israel, a land that Ruth had never seen before. Now Ruth is following a grieving widow while trying to handle her own grief and adjusting to a new culture. She had her own sadness and financial concerns pressing down on her, but her reaction to life’s stress was different than her mother-in-law’s. Where Naomi saw her loss and grief as a box that contained her, Ruth looked around for the new beginning. Where Naomi looked at the season she was in as the definition of who she was, Ruth looked forward with hope for what could transpire.
My mother tells a story of when I was about three years old on our sailboat. I used to get so horribly sea sick that my father took some rope, poked holes in either side of a bucket and tied that bucket around my neck so that I could just let it rip, if you catch my drift. One day, someone asked me if I was having fun. Apparently, I lifted my little blond head, wanly smiled and said, “Yes!” That’s an amazingly positive comment considering the fact that all the while my stomach was churning and I vomited involuntarily into the bucket for hours!
As the years went on, the sea-sickness didn’t improve very much. I recall spending the first two days of our cruises severely under the influence of Marazine or Dramamine. I would occasionally wake up from a half-comatose “nap” on the deck with saliva dripping out of my mouth, my face completely adhered to the deck cushion, and realizing that half the day was gone and we were pulling into some harbor. Back in those days, my father used to tell me his secret for not getting seasick. He told me to look at the horizon. He said that the horizon didn’t move. So while the boat was rocking under power of the waves, if I kept my eyes on the horizon, I wouldn’t feel like I was rocking so much. He told me to stand in the middle of the cockpit, allow my legs to act like shock-absorbers and then focus my gaze on the line at the edge of the world.
It worked – especially after those first two days were over.