My wife and I are in that stage or phase of life where reducing the ‘stuff’ we’ve accumulated over our lives and ministry seems like a good thing to do. Our storage areas are filled with boxes of memorabilia we’ve gathered over the years. We spent several hours the other day, sorting through treasures that we need to donate to the mission, some stuff we just need to toss, and a few treasured things we decided to continue to store away. I had not anticipated the feelings that such an activity would generate inside of me. Holding a small pair of cowboy boots one of our boys wore when he was little. Remembering some of our former congregants, as we looked at old church directories we had kept. Such fond memories. So many different feelings, as we went through those boxes.
One box in particular was especially impactful to me. When I opened it, I discovered that it contained many years-worth of old journals I had kept. Page after page of my journaling about life, recounting happenings, observations, discoveries that were a part of the Yesterday.
Everyone, of course, has a Yesterday. The scars we’ve accumulated, the accolades we’ve received. The seasons of change we’ve endured, and the challenges we’ve experienced along the path of life. Those recollections are all a part of the longest day we will ever live: the day we call Yesterday. It’s where we’ve been all our lives, and what we’ve been up to all our lives.
I didn’t spend a lot of time reading those journals. I did flip randomly through a few entries. And what I discovered wasn’t really news to me. Some of the days I randomly read about were challenging days for me. I remember. I read again about the pain of life in ministry. I often wrote prayers to God, asking for his help and sustaining power in the midst of my struggle. And there were pages about other days, too. Days when wonderful things were happening; incredible events and joyous occasions I had almost forgotten about. Reading a few pages of those old journals refreshed my memory about where I’ve been all my life, and what I’ve been up to.
In all honesty, I saw some value in reading about the challenges I’ve had along my journey with God. But I chose not to box up those memories. I chose not keep those journals. Perhaps my reason can best be illustrated in the book of Lamentations, chapter 3. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet wrote:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Nothing wrong with reading journals about where we’ve been all our lives. But, I choose not to allow Yesterday’s pain to cloud the grace of God Today and his faithfulness I can count on …Tomorrow.