The Year is Already Ruined!

Seven days in and the New Year is already ruined.

That’s how many people perceive their lives.

These are the same people who, when they make a stray mark on their paper, have to start over. These are people with well-documented Januaries. Somewhere in the back of their closets lurk boxes of journals or diaries completed for one month, maybe two, but then abandoned when a week passed without an entry. These same people could easily sweep a Jeopardy category based on Genesis but would falter if the category covered 1 Kings.

I was once one of these people.

That’s back when I, unwittingly, believed in a theology of the Flood. Like God in the days of Noah, I felt that once something in my life was broken, marred, or imperfect, the best plan for dealing with it was to wipe it out and start over.

Believing in the theology of the Flood was the source of much angst in my early married life and my initial parenting years. What’s a Flood theologian to do when a stray mark appears on her marriage or her children show clear signs of imperfection that reflect flaws in her novice parenting?

It took one of those stray marks in a journal to revolutionize my theology.

One January, I sat in a local coffee shop writing in that year’s precious and pristine journal. I’d managed to write every day and so far, had only entered thoughts worthy of recording. A friend passed by my table and remembered I’d asked for a certain phone number. Without thinking, she leaned over and penned the seven digits in my open journal!

As she floated out the door with no thought to the devastation she’d just wrought in my perfect little January world, I stared, forlorn, at the ruined journal. I had been on such a roll! I loved that journal. The cover was brown leather embossed with a Celtic tree. I didn’t want to abandon it but how could I continue now that it was ruined? My theology of the Flood almost won the day.

Then, God spoke to me through the ruined page.

Suddenly, I could see how all this theology of the Flood was only leading me to frustration, waste, and needless ruin. The journal was mine, so it was within my right to abandon it now that it was destroyed. However, what if, I thought, what if my journal could be redeemed?

I decided to see if my prayers, my reflections, and my creative ideas could co-exist with my grocery needs, to-do lists, and stray phone numbers. I decided not to panic at stray marks, coffee stains, or scribbles. The freedom to be imperfect inspired a consistent creativity that continues some twelve years later. Better still, the freedom bled off the page and into my daily life. As I learned to redeem my journal, I saw better God’s redemptive work in my days.

Theology of the Blood, the blood of Jesus Christ, teaches us that the mars, the ruinations, the deepest stains of sin don’t have to doom a person to destruction. We can be redeemed because of Jesus Christ. Of course, it’s best if we don’t sin but which of us doesn’t sin? Redemption is the plan, a plan with which we can live. A plan that doesn’t leave us gasping beneath floodwaters with no hope of rescue.

My journaling was not the only thing revolutionized that day. I have not only kept journals bursting from cover to cover with life since that day, I also learned a purpose for those stray marks. Each “mistake” in my journal reminds me to turn my own “mistakes” over to God and watch what He does to work everything together for good for those who love Him.

Any year lived without Jesus Christ is ruined before it began. It’s doomed for destruction – fire this time, not flood. But every year turned over to Jesus, no matter how marred, can be one that testifies to the power of redemption.

What about you? Are you operating under a theology of Flood or a theology of Blood? Revolutionize this year by asking God to spend every day teaching you what it means to be redeemed and fill your journal with imperfect adventures spent following Jesus.

Redemption journaling. Let me know how it works for you – in June.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7

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    The Conversation

  1. Lynn says:

    I love this! I have several beautiful journals that remain empty because I never think I have anything “worthy” to say and I hate to mar their pristine pages. Time to go find them and try some redemptive journaling! Thanks for this great perspective. 🙂

  2. John Loven says:

    Thank you so very much for this. I lost my best friend, my inspiration, the love and light of my life, my darling wife on 10-10-2014. I have felt that, not my year, but that my life was ruined. Your insight has given me hope today. God bless you.

  3. Maxine D says:

    I am dancing (in my mind, my body does not co-operate gracefully) – not that my journals were ever perfect, but that I am once again reminded that I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.:-) 🙂 🙂