When I was twelve years old, my grandmother, Shar Shar (the grandchildren shortened Sharon) gave me a journal on Easter. The spine shimmered with gold paint, and the rest of the cover danced in an intricate Victorian pattern. The front cover had a picture of a young girl kneeling in prayer. She wore a dress from another time, and her hair piled on the top of her head. Gentle sunlight bathed over her silhouette. The journal was a treasure to me. It seemed that a journal like this should be filled with words, and the appearance of it sparked my imagination and my own desire to write. Instead of writing frivolous entries about boys or my days events, I wrote my prayers. It seemed the journal would accept nothing else. God used that journal in my life for it was the start of dozens more.
I occasionally read back through my entries from years ago. Some entries span for eight to ten pages detailing events where God showed his miraculous power. On other pages, the ink runs murky as I scribble through the death of a dear friend or loved one. My life is written by my own hand among those pages as I lived them. All my trials and sufferings are there to be relived again but with a different perspective.
I wondered today, if I would be willing to live through some of those events again. Truthfully, my answer is no, but I’m not sure that it should be. God’s faithfulness, his mercy, his forgiveness, and his unending love are written between the lines of those pages. Through my suffering and trials, I witnessed the power of God. Perhaps that is why I wasn’t given a choice then. I didn’t get to choose weather or not I walked through the fire because I would have inevitably gone another route and had less need for Christ.
I can’t imagine how in Acts 21, the apostle Paul is given a warning from God he would experience a great deal of suffering by walking into Jerusalem to preach the gospel to the gentiles. Paul knew that God wanted him to walk through the gates of that city though, and so he went willingly into suffering knowing that Christ would receive praise for his hardship. He chose it, just like his savior, Christ, who walked willingly into the step of his Father’s will with the weight of the cross on his shoulders. He chose suffering for the sake of our redemption and God’s glory. Are we that willing to go wherever the Spirit leads?