One of the things I enjoy doing when I take a personal spiritual retreat is to bring along a journal or two from the past. I’ve been journaling for a long time, and I’m constantly amazed at what I learn – from my younger self through these journals. I could also say that it’s humbling what I have to re-learn from God when I read through their pages.
Here are a few things I imagine God saying to me:
- Remember that? I told you so, didn’t I?
- You were really bonkers and stressed over that little deal, weren’t you? How’s it feel to have forgotten it completely?
- Boom. That request was fulfilled just as you asked. I bet you forgot you asked…
- You know the Footprints poem? It is a shoddy comparison to how deeply I love you and how much I’ve cared for you.
- Yes, you have an amazing wife. I gave her to you.
- All these people who encouraged you along the way? They were my agents.
- You don’t remember that either? (Then I imagine God reciting Psalm 103.14 over and over to Himself.)
- Yes, yes, yes. I’ve been abundantly active in your life, but you’re not special. That’s just my love.
- Aren’t you glad I didn’t grant that prayer?
- Seeing all these prayer requests answered probably makes you wish you’d asked for more hair, doesn’t it?
I think one benefit of retreating and reading a journal is simply context. Over and over, I’ve realized just how busy my life has been since November 2008-July 2009 (the journal of choice for this retreat). Reviewing my scrawling cursive helps me see life uncompressed. I get to take time with these recorded days that I didn’t have before and reevaluate the intensity of my joys and disappointments. One of the verses I’ve meditated on since I arrived is Psalm 139.23:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (NLT)
Introspection for me often leads to inspiration. Seeing how God has worked in my past renews my trust in His work in my present and my future.
By the way, if you’ve never taken a personal retreat before, I’d highly recommend The Cove.