Nine years ago I started keeping a journal which I only write in at the end of the year. The word “faith” is on the cover. It’s where I write reflections on the year and my prayers and longings for the year to come.
I read through the previous years’ entries. As I look back there’s been an increasing intensity in my entries. They’ve gone from excitement in testing to discouragement, yet pressing on to look up.
In 2009 I wrote that if in the past I had felt like I was on a mountaintop “transfiguration” experience in my walk of faith in Christ, that year felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. In 2010, 11 and 12 if I had one word to describe my entries: refinement. In 2011 I wrote I felt my faith was being crushed into powder. This year, as I look back and look ahead at the race God has set before me, I hear Hebrews 12:1-17 very strongly, especially verse 12-14:
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
I definitely feel like, spiritually, I’m drooping and weak. I feel like my feet are at a cross in the path where striving for peace runs perpendicular to striving for holiness.
I was reminded today that one of the greatest evidences in my life that something is amiss spiritually is my lack of joy. If my eyes were fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, if my eyes were fixed on what He has done and what He promises to do, I would be rejoicing despite the sorrow that comes with the struggles here.
So I cry out to the One who can help me lift my drooping hands and doesn’t break bent reeds. I call on the One who can restore my weak knees and doesn’t put out a barely flickering flame. I seek direction from the One who would not compromise holiness or peace and therefore was stretched out at that cross in the road and died. For me.