In May of 1999 I started writing in my journal almost everyday, so I decided to compile several entries into a single post.
16 years ago, I wrote this in my journal:
Praise God, He hasn’t abandoned me! But today He’s been testing me. I’ve also been feeling convicted, like I need to do a spiritual check-up and confess every sin I can possibly think of. I feel really hesitant about it, though. I think Satan is angry and seriously opposing me.
I realized last night and finally admitted that God has called me into the ministry. What kind? Who knows? But I feel God wants me to do something important.
I started reading Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill and God has convicted me that the root of all my problems is lack of prayer. It’s the root of every problem. So tonight I’m gonna sleep for 6 hours and get up early and pray as long as I can.
“Father, you know I’m serious about this. Please anoint me with your Holy Spirit, cleanse every form of evil from my heart, and grant me the power and energy to be a mighty intercessor, pleasing in your sight, and useful in your glory!”
— May 23rd, 1999
Well, I did it. I prayed for an hour and a half and pretty well covered everything. The Lord really helped me through it. Today’s been rough, though. I’ve been been tired and kinda sick. I guess it’s a sinus infection. And at work we had no help with the truck and carts and carryouts. It’s been hard. Maybe the Lord’s disciplining me or maybe it’s a test. I don’t know.
This evening me and the family got together and discussed our plans again. There’s still a lot of work to do! So, should I get more involved at church or should I spend more time working on the farm? Either way, I know prayer is the best thing I can do… Maybe right now my mission field is here. I really don’t know if I’m cut out for evangelism.
“Father, are you still with me? Am I doing something wrong? I need to hear from you. I pray that I am in your will.”
— May 24th, 1999
Today was hard, too. I’m still kinda sick and I think Satan’s been trying to play a guilt trip on me about what a weak Christian I am. Well praise God, I wasn’t deceived. In fact, I believe I have an answer to last night’s question. I think my first priority is prayer, and second is working here. If Y2K blows over I’ll be happy to do all I can to help serve at a church, but under the circumstances I think the Lord would rather me prepare here at the farm.
“Thank you, Jesus, for showing me what to do! You will always be glorified in my life. And I want to glorify you more.”
— May 25th, 1999
Dear Former Self,
It’s too bad you waited over ten years to read these journal entries. Maybe if you had read them after ten days it wouldn’t have taken you so long to realize how delusional you are. Most of what you write is pure imagination. You’re not living in the real world; you’re living in your head. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.
Humans are very emotional creatures. We go through ups and downs throughout our lives–year to year, month to month, day to day, even hour to hour. But what you’re doing is interpreting every emotion you experience as a sign that something supernatural is happening. So if you’re in a good mood, it means God is blessing you. But if you’re in a bad mood, it means God is testing you or Satan is opposing you. The truth is, there’s nothing supernatural going on. You’re just a human being with transient feelings.
Because of your worldview, you’re allowing your feelings to dictate your behavior. You feel like God is convicting you, you feel like you need to confess all your sins, you feel like God wants you to go into the ministry.
Whatever happened to God giving people direct messages? According to the Bible, Moses heard God’s voice coming from a burning bush, Jonah got very specific instructions to go preach to the Ninevites, and Paul even saw (or heard?) Jesus himself. Funny how God never does this sort of thing anymore. You just have to rely on your feelings and guess whether they’re coming from God, the Devil, or yourself.
In the end, most Christians just do whatever they want to do while convincing themselves God told them to do it. These three journal entries are a perfect example:
In the first entry, you feel like you need to do something important with your life, and for diehard Christians nothing is more important than spreading the gospel. So going into the ministry seems like a good idea to you.
In the second entry, you start to realize there are other things you would rather do than go into the ministry, and you wonder whether you would be any good at evangelism. So you tell yourself, “Maybe right now my mission field is here.” You even pray, “I need to hear from you.” But of course you don’t hear anything because no one is there.
In the third entry, you go the rest of the way by saying, “I think the Lord would rather me prepare here at the farm.” And of course you convince yourself that God told you this when you say, “Thank you, Jesus, for showing me what to do!” But Jesus didn’t tell you what to do. No one did.
You’re basically an adult with an imaginary friend. And as a result, you have a serious case of arrested development. Think about it: You spend at least an hour a day talking to your invisible friend and imagining that he’s communicating with you through your feelings, but only children are supposed to do things like this.
Children often have imaginary friends and tend to be slaves to their emotions. But as they grow up, they usually leave these tendencies behind. You, however, are actually embracing these tendencies. Rather than focusing on the real world and learning to think rationally, you’re busy imagining a supernatural world and wallowing in your emotions. You even embrace the label, “child of God.” What a shame.
— Matt, May 25th, 2015
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.