I grew up in the '60s and '70s, raised by Christian parents and regularly attending church. I accepted the faith of my parents and was baptized in middle school. At about 18 years old, I started reading the Bible regularly - nearly every night. I regularly prayed and continued to attend church and stay involved in Christian community. Over the years, my relationship with Christ has deepened and my faith has grown.
However, a few years ago I went through a period of doubting—not about God's existence, really, but about..I don't even know. Maybe it is better described as a time of confusion. I felt a distance and separation from God that was unbearable, a "spiritual drought" as they say. I was also feeling guilty because God had provided many blessings to me and I felt I had no right to question.
This vicious cycle of feeling distance from God, then doubting, and then feeling guilty, led me to seek guidance from my pastor. When we met, he asked if there was anything in my life that might be leading to the separation—maybe something I needed to deal with, like a particular sin. We talked through this and I committed to self-examination, as well as to ask God to reveal anything in me that might be leading to my feeling of distance from Him, so that I could appropriately deal with it. Before we ended our meeting, the pastor suggested that I keep a journal in which I would regularly write down my prayers and God's answers to those prayers.
Trying to heed the advice of the pastor, I bought a spiral bound notebook for the purpose of keeping a journal. The idea of writing in a journal on a regular basis stressed me out because my life was really busy. When could I carve out time to do this? I was a single mother working many hours in my job and had many family responsibilities. But deep down I knew that this was too important not to do—perhaps the MOST important thing I could do with my time.
Over the next five years, I poured out my heart to God on the pages, filling one and then another notebook with my prayers, telling God about my fears, joys, disappointments - asking for help, guidance, wisdom and provision and thanking Him for all He has done for us. Recently I sat down with the journals to read through them cover to cover—something I had never done. I was amazed by what I read. Over and over I had asked for God's help in the little and big things of life and consistently God had responded. And when God didn't give me what I asked for, over time I could see why and the good that came from it. The global perspective of looking back over the last several years, versus the usual perspective of a slice in time, gave me new insights as to why certain prayers weren't answered in the way that I had wanted or on my timeline. It was for my own good and for the good of others.
This documentation of the day-by-day faithfulness and wisdom of God with numerous specific examples has tremendously deepened my faith. I am scientist and skeptical by nature. I have studied the Bible and have read numerous books on apologetics—many of which have made convincing cases for the Christian faith—but this personal documentation over the years of my own experiences and God's faithfulness, THIS is what has made a profound impact on my faith.
On the first page of my very first journal entry, I wrote, "Lord, I ask that you use this difficult time to help me grow stronger in my faith." Indeed, God did. If I had never experienced that difficult season of doubt, confusion, and distance from God, I don't believe I would have started a journal and many of the wonderful things God had done for me over the years would have been forgotten. This difficult time in my life DID without a doubt deepen my faith and I am very thankful to God.
"But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works."
You can learn more about Pam here.
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