I have been transcribing an old journal from 1976. It is brining up faded memories of my early faith walk. It is amazing to see: a) how far I’ve come in my faith walk in the nearly four decades since; and b) how I still wrestle with some of the same issues I was dealing with at the beginning; and c) how God has not changed over the decades, and that the One I was first discovering then still holds my future and my hope.
The occasion of the journal review and transcription was my daughter’s recent return from a post-college “grand tour” of Europe. She asked if I had a journal from my college trip, and if so could she read it. I had to find it, dig it out, and read it myself, which was both a pleasant and a painful experience. It was also a reminder that my handwriting is much more like a private code than it is a medium for communication. So I determined that I would attempt to decipher and digitize my descriptions of the trip, so I could share them with her without confusion or eyestrain.
Memories: Some things I was learning about God… have stayed with me to the present day
I’m glad I didn’t do this BEFORE she went. I’m not sure I would trust even myself to take the kind of risks and adventures I blithely and naively embarked on in my youth—especially in today’s world. I would hate to have had any kind of influence on her planning! (It’s not really that scary; I just went alone and didn’t do very much advanced research. I could easily have disappeared in the old world, never to be heard from again.)
The big takeaway from my reliving of days-gone-by is that some of the things I was learning about God, and some of my experiences with Him on this trip, have stayed with me to the present day.
Relax. I won’t burden you with a full recap nor analysis of my day-to-day musings.
Overall, I remember discovering that God is a wonderful tour guide (Proverbs 16:9—He truly DID guide my steps).
He provided for me, even before I left, the gift of a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, courtesy of a Gideons International missionary visiting the University of Minnesota campus the very week of my departure. With it I was easily able to spend time with Him each day, and to use the 31 chapters of Proverbs as a daily portion of wisdom that match the days of the month.
He provided fellowship with other believers in the airport, on the plane, and at each place I stayed. (In some cases, He directed my steps even when I wasn’t looking for it: I literally hit my head on a tourist map vending machine when I came around the corner in the city of Luxembourg, where I had a several-days layover waiting for the start date of my Eurail pass but didn’t know what to do while there; AND I literally tripped on the stoop of a Christian coffeehouse in that same city, where I met several other college students seeking to learn about Jesus while they were studying abroad.)
He provided for my safety by protecting me from my own innocence and ignorance as I walked through the worst parts of the city of Naples in the middle of the night, or traipsed through the market with hundreds of dollars of camera equipment draped on my person.
He provided a place for me to stay, and transportation, while I did the backpacking-through-Europe thing so popular even today.
He provided ways to help me stretch my limited funds, and even to extend them several days beyond my intended departure date.
And overall I remember that God chose to meet with me each day, to guide my heart and my mind, to use the Scriptures and my experiences to help me discover the foundational truth which I carry with me today:
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73).
There’s one passage in the journal where I was exploring what I should do with my life; how I should use my gifts. I was caught by a word I used, “evidence,” in light of what I do today in my ministry at FaithSearch, proclaiming the Gospel with evidence to all peoples everywhere:
I started thinking — I’ve always liked to learn. I’ve been good at formal proof & argument — evidence etc. … Perhaps I’m being called to teach — but how — in what capacity — Scripture? Science: How can I best use my mind to glorify God? … I pray for knowledge of & the desire to seek out the way God wants me to go. To glorify His name.
May God be glorified for having guided my steps through my education, as I moved from Biology to Journalism; through my career, from campus missionary to photography to television to advertising to technology and back to missionary again.