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Walking Our Faith: Burning journals

This week a 7-year-old memory showed up on my Facebook feed. It was a picture of an empty living room from my home in Evergreen and I was announcing that it was moving day and I was heading out on a new adventure that would eventually lead me here to Breckenridge and writing this column each week.

It is a bittersweet memory because this week my Evergreen home goes up for sale and I prepare to move away from Breckenridge.

As I did seven years ago, I’m downsizing. Part of that process has been going through the stack of journals that I’ve written in over the last seven years just as I did before leaving Evergreen. Back then I posted another picture on Facebook that showed 30 years of journals burning in my wood stove.



I never thought I’d do it again. Yet this past week as I again went through my stack of journals, I found that I didn’t want to keep any of them. No longer having a wood-burning stove, I threw them out.

I don’t regret it. In part because this weekly column has become the best form of a journal for me. I’ve shared my life and my walk of faith and because I’ve been (perhaps) too open, it really is a good record of my life.



The other consideration is that once again a chapter of my life is closing and in order to enter the next chapter, I want to let go and for me that means letting go of the journals.

I was looking for a familiar Bible passage written by Saint Paul in which he uses the analogy of running a race for this journey of life, not looking back but pressing forward to complete the race that God has set out for him.

As I was Googling the phrase ‘don’t look back Bible verses’ a reference to Lot’s wife appeared in the results.

That Bible story is used as an example of what happens if we disobey God’s commands. In this case Lot was told, “take your family, leave Sodom and Gomorrah, and don’t look back.” Of course Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

“The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” — Genesis 19:23-26, NKJV

That punishment always seemed a bit harsh to me, after all perhaps she loved where she lived and felt sadness at leaving her home and friends behind.

But today I see this Bible story differently. Not God punishing Lot’s wife, but providing a valuable lesson about what happens when we are unable to let go of our past. That we can get stuck, turned to salt as it were, grieving past mistakes or wishing we could return to another time in our lives. How many of us get stuck relieving difficult childhoods? Or mistakes we made as young adults?

That moment is gone, whether we are ready or not, it is a part our of our history. We lose the opportunity to learn and find joy and love in the present until we say a heartfelt good-bye or a relieved good riddance.

Parting with the journals is my way of turning from the past and looking toward the future.

I hope you will give this gift to yourself. Forget the mistakes of your past, make amends where you can, ask for forgiveness from those you hurt and from God. Then ask God for wisdom, grace, and love to finish the race he has set out for you, free of the bondage of the past looking forward with optimism for the future.

God bless you.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14, NIV

 


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