Christianity 201

June 20, 2014

Keeping A Spiritual Journal: When You Look Back

Phil. 3:10 I want to know Him inside and out. I want to experience the power of His resurrection and join in His suffering, shaped by His death…  (The Voice)

When you write a devotional blog, or keep a devotional journal, inevitably there are times when you look back at past entries and say, “What on earth was that about?”  What obviously made a great deal of sense on the day you wrote it suddenly appears to be random. You know there was a spark that set pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, but now you are lost trying to decipher it.

The Knowledge Effect

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  (Job 42:3, NIV)

Job realizes that from day one of his experience, where the discussion is concerned, he’s been in way over his head. He is humbled and contrite. In verse six, Job is found saying,

Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

I think there’s a lesson in this for all of us. It’s easy to jump into a discussion based on some micro-topic, but it’s difficult to see the macro-implications, the big picture. Which of us hasn’t, at some time, regretted that we started talking; or begun a sentence only to realize part way through that we have no idea how to get to the period at the end of that sentence?

Christianity 201 - newI call this blog Christianity 201, but some days I feel like, ‘Who am I to say I’m at the 201 level?’ Some days I feel like I’m back at 101, or Pre-101. My goal is to introduce topics that immerse readers in the deeper things of God, but some days I feel like I’m more immersed in the shallow things of Paul. (Thankfully, we run about 67% re-posts from other blogs, so I’m able to surround myself with the depth of other, great writers.)

I look back on posts from six months ago, or two years ago, and what seemed so profound seems to ring hollow. Not every one of them, but some of them. But some of this may be due to:

The Manna Effect

15b …Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16a This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need…

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.  (NIV)

Sometimes, I believe the Lord gives us what we need for that particular day, and only for that day. I don’t want to push the analogy here and suggests that I look back on previous entries here and feel they stink, but if the analogy fits, so be it.

I believe that God is trying to perfect us and teach us, but it’s not necessary that we remember the intimate details of each circumstance and each lesson. Rather, I think the truths of God are applied like layers of paint.

Last summer we stained a wooden deck chair. We bought the stain because it was on sale, and then looked for something to use it on, and settled on this rocking deck chair with wooden slats. I kept applying layer after year of wood stain, and didn’t honestly think the first coat did anything, nor did the subsequent coats appear to make any difference. But this summer, you can see the result of my work.

I believe that each sermon, each hymn or worship song, each Gospel story, each Epistle, each Psalm or Proverb, etc., is contributing to the finished work of who we are. Don’t expect to be able to go back and figure out what you were thinking when you wrote it. What matters is that you were faithful, you were obedient, and you were focusing your mind and your heart on God as you typed or wrote.

Lam. 3:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.  (ESV)

However, some times you look back and you realize it’s not The Manna Effect or The Knowledge Effect but it’s,

The Maturity Effect

Sometimes it’s not what you wish you knew back then, or that you can’t get your head in the same place where you were; rather, it’s you’re not the same person you were before.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.  (I Cor. 13:11 NLT)

Hopefully, some of the things I was writing a few years ago don’t make any sense at all, because I have moved into a more mature place in both my walk and my knowledge of God.

I’m not going to be so bold as to say that’s the case, but I hope I can look back on things I was writing about perhaps a decade ago, and even laugh, because I’ve gained the perspective that comes with walking with God for a longer time.

II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… (Amplified Bible)

Do you keep a journal or a blog? What do you find when you look back at older entries?


  1. I know someone is thinking, ‘You shouldn’t look back at all, keep looking forward.’
    Just thought I’d save you posting that as a comment!!!

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 20, 2014 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  2. I have spent the last couple of weeks cleaning out cupboards and have spent some time reading through some old notes and lesson materials. Some are quite challenging and some very surprising and some bring back great memories as I think of young people who were affected by the lessons.
    While I have been rather ruthless in throwing out things I haven’t used in the last 16 years (since selling the farm and moving into town) I am keeping most of my old lesson materials and notes and hope to have time to go through them once I’ve finished my whole clean-out.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — June 23, 2014 @ 5:55 am | Reply

  3. Reblogged this on spiritual maturity and commented:
    Very insightful, encouraging and helpful. Thank you.

    Comment by sidelites46 — July 2, 2014 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

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