Reflection was never something I enjoyed or did growing up. I’ve kept a journal from the time I first learned to write, but going back and reading it was something I detested.
Because usually it would bring up sore memories, or bring bad decisions to light. It would cause me to see the hurt, the pain, and the distaste I struggled with for so many years. The poor decisions, the hurtful comments, and the disastrous relationships I seemed to compile over the years.
But over the past couple of years, I have grown a fondness for reflecting. Somedays I find myself flipping through my journals, my Bible, or my prayer notebook, simply to see what God has done through both the good and the bad that makes up my messy life.
I’ve moved so many times, taken (probably a few too many) new jobs, made new friends, lost old friends, dated, broken-up, struggled through circumstances, found joy in the unfavorable, experienced a roller-coaster of poor health, healed with faith and determination both mentally and physically, and watched my spiritual life ebb and flow with the seasons.
This past week I volunteered as a camp counselor at my churches overnight camp, where I observed countless girls who were broken, souls crushed, and minds in shambles. Why? Because they live strenuous lives, they come from broken homes and struggle with their identities and who they are.
Being in a cabin with a dozen fifteen-year-old girls brought highschool memories flooding back, reminding me of how hard it is being a teenage girl, and how frequently you feel desperately alone.
The thought that I had this week at camp came from one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible: Romans 8:28.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
God works together all things for the good of those that love Him.
All things are not good, and we don’t have to pretend they are. In fact, we live in a world that likes to call good and bad subjective, some arguing that you define yourself what is “good” and what is “bad.”
As Christians, we know that this is impossible. Our biblical worldview guides us and instructs us in a way where we know exactly what is good and what is bad.
Cancer, child sicknesses, addiction, abuse, war, etc are all bad. There’s literally no argument there.
BUT, when Jesus died on the cross He made a way to take things that are inherently bad into working them together for good, by adding his wisdom, grace, and love.
This concept always reminds me of an illustration a pastor gave when I was little.
Are you familiar with how salt is made? If not, it’s a mixture chloride and sodium. By themselves, these two things are chemicals that are deadly to humans. You can’t pour chloride on your steak and live. You can’t add sodium to your brownies and have a good outcome.
But when sodium and chloride are mixed together in an instrumental way by a chemist they create table salt, a completely edible and necessary thing for humans.
Just like a chemist mixing sodium and chloride, God works as a chemist with the compounds of our lives.
He takes decisions that we make, even bad ones, and can work them together for our good by adding his love, wisdom, and grace to our decisions.
At the cross, Jesus didn’t just die to bring victory over sin, but over circumstances as well.
We learn through Romans 8:28 that no matter what we do, God can bring good out of our decisions.
This is why reflection is so important for Christians.
Reflection allows us to look back on our lives, and see God so intricately working together things for OUR good. While we were making poor decisions or dating less than favorable people He was still working.
When we forget to care about ourselves, He is still there, walking beside us, waiting for us to grab hold of His hand once again.
I look back on my life and can see His hand in so many situations that would have destroyed me if He wasn’t there.
The thing is even when we don’t care about Him, or we don’t care about ourselves, He still cares for us. Try to find a human who will still look out for you, and love you unconditionally when you ignore them for years.
I’m the story of the prodigal son.
You’re the story of the prodigal son.
And who is God? The father with his outstretched arms, waiting for us to return not so He can say “I told you you’d need me one day,” but so He can throw a party in our honor.
That’s why reflection is so important.
So that we can look back and see how while we left God in the dust, He still stood beside us. Even when we cursed Him, He remained firmly beside us.
And when we did return, He welcomed us with open arms.
That’s the message of GRACE. The message God wrote over and over again in the Bible and the message He writes over and over again in my life.
The message of a wandering daughter whose father never closes His doors to her. A father who loves unconditionally, and never wavers in his waiting.
Reflection brings the message of grace to light, illuminating parts of my life, and reminding me of God’s unchanging, unwavering and unconditionally loving character.
P.S. One day I was reflecting on the radical things God had done in my life when I penned the blog post “God’s To-Do Lists Versus Our To-Do Lists.” If you’re anything like me then you thrive off of to-do lists. But if you’re anything like me sometimes you need to be reminded of what should be at the top of your to-do lists. Check it out HERE.