When I was in high school, I attended a teen program called Discipleship Training School every summer at my church. I cannot put into words how much of an impact these weeks had in my life. Lasting relationships formed. Inside jokes were born. Countless memories made. (Kudos to my youth leaders. Because now that I am not a teen, and I’m in the age bracket that they were in at the time, I cannot fathom how they did what they did.)
And then there was my faith. During these weeks, I came face to face with the Living God. As a young teen, these weeks, at first, turned into the splendid spiritual and emotional highs that we’ve all experienced after a spiritual retreat of some sort. But the highs inevitably lead to the lows again. By midway through the school year, I’d be trudging back along in the rut of my utterly challenging (read, breezy) teenage life. (Ah, the drama of teenage doldrums.)
Anyways, as I came into my later teen years, graduated high school and entered college, I began to serve on staff at this same Discipleship Training School at my church. And I watched the pattern continue: Emotional highs … inevitable lows, year after year. This was not what I wanted for myself or for the students in my small groups. What is the point of a faith that is only based upon how we are feeling in that given season or day? What is the point of faith led entirely by emotion? If we can only walk faithfully representing our Father when we feel like it, well, that doesn’t make us very good children. (Imagine if you only obeyed your parents when you felt like it! Ha! Better yet, imagine if your children only obeyed you when they felt like it! Do you feel the rage rising? Cause I do.) Emotions are real. We feel them, they are important. Not discrediting that. But, faith needs to be deeper than emotion. During those weeks at DTS, I chose to pursue a faith of depth, of rootedness, something real and utterly unchangeable in my heart. My prayer became, “Lord, don’t let these truths that I am learning be fleeting. Don’t let them fade away. Lord, write these truths on my heart. Write them there where they will change me forever.”
In the 10 plus years since these weeks of DTS, this has continued to be an important prayer in my spiritual walk. When landmark things happened in my faith, I still pray, “Lord, write this on my heart. I don’t want to forget.” Truthfully, some of those moments, those truths, have still been lost, and lessons have had to be relearned. But many truths have remained. Over the years, I have found that writing about these events and lessons helps to solidify them in my heart and mind. Whatever the stage of my life, as I’ve processed the things I want to remember, writing has been as essential as breathing.
And so here we are, more than ten years after those DTS years, and I’m still praying, “Lord, write this on my heart.” The lessons are different now. I’m now a stay-at-home mom with two little ones. And there are many moments that I, like Mary, am treasuring up in my heart. Nothing has changed my view of God as much as becoming a parent. The lessons in these three years of being a mommy have been rich and full, though not without challenge. As you read the tablet of my heart, I hope you will be encouraged and your faith in the One who gives all good gifts will be increased and deepened.