Learning Discipline 2… Coming into the Light

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

1 John 1:5-6 (NIV)

If I desire truly to live the life that Jesus suffered and died to enable me to live, I must do one crucial thing: tell myself the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. About what? About myself.

My fleshly tendency is to lie, evade or pretend rather than live truthfully with God, others and even myself. I spend my efforts trying to make myself look better than I actually am because down deep, I think my real self is not acceptable, not loveable. I’m afraid, so I try to keep things in the darkness. Anyone familiar with any 12 Step program will tell you that that strategy never works.

What helped me to come out of the darkness into Christ’s light was prayer journaling. By this I mean a journal in which:

  1. I write down every question, frustration, prayer, thanksgiving, struggle – all my honest feelings and thoughts;
  2. I direct all my communication to God, not just myself; and
  3. I commit to never pretending about anything ever in my journal. I commit to coming into the light, telling God the whole truth.
  4. I then listen for any direction, any insight and write that down too. Sometimes a Scripture would come to mind, or I would have an idea begin to form in my mind. Sometimes, of course, there wasn’t anything, but I just entrusted that to the Holy Spirit and figured something would become clear eventually, which it always did, often in unexpected ways.

Honestly, when I first started this kind of journaling 30 years ago, it was tough. More than once in the beginning, my pen would hover over the journal page and I would think, “Is this okay to say??”. After a struggle, I would write it down and, indeed, it was okay. In fact, the more I came clean with God in writing (writing makes you “own it”), the closer I felt to him. His mercy poured out on me and I experienced more of his love in my brokenness, my failures, my shortcomings, my helplessness.

So – if you really want to start dealing with those stubborn bad habits and those repetitive sins in your life, this is the first thing to begin doing – and keep doing.

To be continued…