Yesterday I pulled out an old (2007) journal and got homesick. In the 1990s an intention tremor started to afflict my handwriting. I noticed that I had less control and the script got larger. Now I can’t write, period. And I miss the smell of paper, the glide of the pen. Yes, I have a computer and I’m grateful for it. But it isn’t the same.
Do you have a notebook? When I meet with a woman to help her grow with Jesus, I encourage her to get a notebook. A Bible, a notebook and a pen. I find that something happens when a woman consistently reads her Bible, prays and writes in her notebook.
How I use my notebook. The ideas below are NOT a template. My times with the Lord in His Word are a date, NOT an assignment. Dates with Jesus take various shapes. My journals reflect the variety of these dates. I mention the elements below merely to stimulate your thinking.
“Voice” my concerns: I notice that the psalmists often begin with their concerns. Six of the first seven Psalms start with the psalmist’s concerns. So if something is on my mind I write about it before I open my Bible. I don’t “lay aside my concerns” when I come to the Lord, I drag them into His presence for His comment and direction. Writing helps me see the issue in “black and white” and, also, gives me something to return to. I find this valuable. Last month’s struggles are forgotten because I’m caught up in today’s struggles. Rereading my journal enables me to see God’s faithful workings in my life.
Take notes: As I read the Bible, I record insights. Thoughts penetrate deeper and blossom fuller if I knead and turn them, knead and turn them, seeking the best words to capture the fruit of my meditation. I can return to it and enlarge it later.
Express my prayer: Writing my prayer helps me avoid the easy rut. Whenever I read an old journal I see the movement of God answering my prayers.
Build on threads and themes: Every life has threads and themes. If you record how Jesus is engaging you, you will see that certain topics come up repeatedly. Here’s something I find helpful. I number the pages in my notebook and, then, create an index page in the back of my notebook. When the Holy Spirit strongly connects me to a thought, I note the subject and page number. Each time that theme comes up, I add the page number [example: power of the Cross: p. 4,7,19, 27; forgiveness: p. 13,14, 34]. In this way, when “forgiveness” shows up again I can reference pages 13,14 and 34 for deeper meditation.
Throughout the ages Christians have kept journals. This is fitting. Christians are “people of the Book.” God has given us HIS WORD, the fullest revelation of His Person. He has exalted above all things His Name and His Word (Psalm 138:2). The written word is forever elevated because God wrote words to us. Words matter. Live the mystery. Get a notebook.