11-12 Once again I'll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
I am back from a wonderful week's vacation along the beautiful Mexican coastline. The weather was wonderful and the rains were refreshing. The seas were calm, the relaxation renewing and the good food invigorating. Now, it is time to settle into my regular routine again, which includes spending this time with you, looking intently into God's Word.
My journal went with me along the way and was also a part of my "normal" morning routine as we enjoyed our time away from home. You see, it is a part of me to journal what God gives me in my daily times of study. My traveling companion found it a little amusing to realize that I journal - perhaps because it is a little "outdated" in our culture. Our writer of this psalm also "journaled", in a sense, in his writings about the wonders of his God.
He tells us that when he found himself in trouble, he went looking for his Lord. He is a "rehearser" of God's interventions in his life. He finds himself facing the things he calls "frightening" and "unexpected" - in turn, he turns to remembering the wonders of his God. One of the tremendous ways we have of remembering our God's wonders is through the recorded word. I have used my journals to refer back to many years later, seeing the rich heritage I have come to enjoy in my walk with the Lord. As I look back, I see evidence of his care, reminders of his teaching, and indications of his grace.
Our psalmist captured the idea well - I give a long, loving look at your acts. As he recounts the difficulties of his present circumstances, he is compelled to look back on what God has been faithful to do, not only in his life, but in the lives of the nation of Israel. Memory is a fickle thing - we try hard to recall details sufficiently to give an accurate accounting of what God has done, but we find we don't remember well.
I have challenged many to begin a journal. Since it is a "lost art", most balk at my suggestion and remind me that they were not called to be "writers". Well, I disagree! We are all given the gift of communication in one form or another. There are many ways to journal. I started out in the margins of my Bible - simply underlining or highlighting a passage and then writing just a few lines to remind me what God gave me on that date. I would write in the date and then I could refer back to it later when I'd see that passage again.
As you can imagine, this method did not last long (I can write a lot!). Margins became filled, necessitating a journal to be my next pathway of expressing what God was doing in my life. Now, I have supplemented my journals with this blog. It is the evolution of journaling! The main thing I want you to see is that God's graces, his tender expressions of love, and his gentle reminders or warnings should be remembered. Our fathers of the faith knew that writing down what God had shown them was just another way of keeping the facts straight - not only for them, but for when they wanted to share with the next generation of believers the things that God is capable of doing in their lives.
No one else needs to read our journals - but sometimes it may keep us from repeating our frequently traveled pathways of sin and compromise to have reminders of what we learned the last time we traveled that pathway! In the pondering of those things, I know that we can avoid repeating mistakes. Israel struggled with the repeated failures of compromise and our writer today wants us to know that he often "looked back" to see how to "move forward". If you can see one advantage of journaling, it would be that in "looking back" we can see more clearly how God has prepared for us to "move forward".