Straight from a Reflective Heart
By Lisa Elliott
After much heartfelt and prayerful deliberation, I decided to embark on a special mission this summer. No, I won’t be travelling overseas or venturing on some extravagant back-packing excursion. I will, however, be travelling back in time. That’s right. I’m spending my summer reading my personal prayer journals—dating back almost three decades.
My plan is to take my Bible and one of my journals to my backyard swing every day—reading, reflecting upon, and even re-living moments in time that I’ve faithfully recorded and safely stored for all these years. Even as I write this, I’ve read ten of them—only forty-six more to go!
I began prayer journaling after my youngest daughter was born. At that point in my life, I felt that my family was complete and I sensed it was time to be more intentional about how I spent time with my Heavenly Father. My desire was to record thoughts, scripture, and prayer requests in a conversational way, discussing my personal life, family life, and ministry life with the Lord, writing to Him as if He was sitting right there with me. And, in fact, He was.
As I’ve been reflecting, it’s occurred to me that the Lord and I have covered a lot of territory through the years. Trekking uphill and down; taking unexpected twists and unforeseen turns; trudging across rugged terrain and exploring unchartered vistas; praying for fellow sojourners, partners in ministry, friends, acquaintances, and family members; experiencing struggles and challenges and heartbreaks together as well as enjoying some rich relationships, learning some invaluable lessons, witnessing breath-taking views, and discovering some profound treasures along the way. Together, my Good Shepherd and I have walked through the valley of the shadow of the death of one of my children.
What is striking me, as I reflect on the journey the Lord and I have been on together, is how His Word has spoken personally to me in all the ways so beautifully articulated in Psalm 19:7-11: refreshing my soul, offering me wisdom, giving joy to my heart, enlightening my eyes, calling me to obedience, and warning me so that I will one day reap a reward when I heed it.
It’s evident throughout my journals that the Lord has never failed to meet me right where I’m at in my point of need. He’s used others in my life to encourage me to keep on keeping on. His Holy Spirit has applied salve in places where I need healing and comfort. He’s led me and guided me and assured me of His presence, never leaving nor forsaking me, just as He promised. These things I recall, therefore, I have hope. Great is His faithfulness. (Lam. 3:21)
Some of my journals will only make it as far as the garbage dumpster once I’m done reading and reflecting. Not because they are worthless, but because there are things I’ve recorded that are between the Lord and me. There are also things that don’t need to be remembered or relived or dug up out of the past where I left them.
As for the rest of them, my goal is to pass them on to my three living children. And, I’ve decided not to wait until I’m gone to do so. I know my oldest daughter will find them beneficial as she raises her own four children. There are scriptural guidelines that might suit my son and his wife as they navigate the ministry that God has called them to. There are definitely truths that my youngest daughter will be encouraged by. Who knows, they may one day be passed along to my grandchildren, which is so often encouraged throughout Scripture.
My prayer is that my children and grandchildren will see the thread of God’s faithfulness throughout my life. With that said, I close with the words to a song recorded by Steve Green which inspired me so many years ago to find this reflective way to leave a trail of God’s faithfulness for generations to come:
Find Us Faithful by Jon Mohr
We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road,
And those who've gone before us line the way.
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary,
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace.
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us run the race not only for the prize,
But as those who've gone before us let us leave to those behind us,
The heritage of faithfulness passed on thru godly lives.
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift thru all we've left behind,
May the clues that they discover, and the mem'ries they uncover,
Become the light that leads them, to the road we each must find.
O may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
O may all who come behind us find us faithful.
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple, Dancing in the Rain, and A Ministry Survival Guide. She’s also a writer for Just Between Us Magazine, theStory, and Good Ground. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (three on earth, one in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, ON, Canada.