The world has a thousand voices . . . listen to Holy Spirit.
We are preparing for a move. I’ve always been a sentimental sort. So over my multiple decades, I’d packed six of these giant Rubbermaid totes of memorabilia.
Over the winter, I’ve worked my way through them, looking to condense six decades of living into a more manageable size. I just didn’t want to drag these on to a new home or for my daughter to someday have the overwhelming task of sorting them out. Thankfully, cell phone photography has given me new ways to save some of the memories digitally instead of physically.
Time has a way of amplifying some memories and obliterating others.
I spent hours reading cards and letters. Some were on the ultrathin blue airmail letter forms from my missionary penpal, Judy. We started writing in elementary school and lived near each other for a year in junior high while her family was on furlough, bonding over the teasing from annoying older brothers. She was one of my bridesmaids, and we’ve kept in touch all these years as she and her husband served as missionaries overseas. The letters have faded too much to photograph, but the monkey postcard was one she sent to me from college, a reminder of all her years in Kenya.
I found scads of theatre playbills for shows we don’t remember seeing at theatres whose locations we cannot pinpoint. “Les, we must have had season tickets to the Delaware Theatre Company at some point,” I said. “What?” he replied. “Where was the Delaware Theatre Company?” I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t remember. Into the trash they went.
But there was also the playbill from 1984 when I sat in the fifth row to see Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman on Broadway. I remember. That one was a keeper. I reduced the six bins to one, with a bit of room for some more memories.
One thing I knew took up a lot of room in my bin was journals. I have never been a journaler in the traditional sense. I did find a childhood daily diary or two, each with a few dozen entries scattered across the year. When you have older brothers, committing your thoughts and feelings to paper isn’t really a smart move.
But starting somewhere in junior high, our youth leaders helped us develop the habit of reading Scripture and writing down what it said in our own words and how it applied to our lives. We used the Word of Life Quiet Time Diary like the one above, which is the earliest one I still have, from my freshman year of college. It became a lifelong habit—albeit with prettier journals.
Reading the Scriptures to understand what they say and then to ask, “So what?” has made a profound difference in my life. It quiets the “thousand voices” of the world, mentioned in the opening quote, and allows me to listen to God speak to my heart from his own words, The Word.
Over the years, I’ve gone back to look for something I journaled on a particular passage (I work my way through whole books of the Bible now, reading until something stops me—it might be one verse in or a chapter), only to wonder how I got that personal message I journaled from that particular passage. I chalk it up to the fact that God says his Word is alive:
God’s word is alive and working. It is sharper than the sharpest sword and cuts all the way into us. It cuts deep to the place where the soul and the spirit are joined. God’s word cuts to the center of our joints and our bones. It judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts.Hebrews 4:12 ERV
God gives us the message we need, when we need it, through his living word. Nothing has transformed my thoughts and actions more than reading and listening to the Scriptures and journaling a prayer asking God to make my life a reflection of his.
I decided I didn’t need to keep the journals. This entire stack went out in the trash this morning, becoming landfill fodder. But their work is done. And every one has been fodder for my soul, feeding me the voice of God.
How are you allowing the Word of God to deliver
the voice of God to your soul?
Do you record what he is teaching you at that moment?