Journaling is one of the cheapest and most effective Bible study tools available. Thoughts just seem to untangle themselves as they travel from the brain, through your heart and out the tip of your fingers.
Bible study requires you to write down what you have observed in the Scripture. It requires you to put on paper your thoughts about what you just read. You can read the Bible without writing, but you can’t study it. If you haven’t written anything down, you really haven’t thought about it.
You might even be surprised after you read what you have written. You will see insights that the Holy Spirit has given you as you think about the verse or passage you have been studying. There may be times when all you write is “I don’t get it”. That is good, too. When that happens, write it down and ask God to give you insight. It might not happen right then, but it will as you continue studying. It might be another verse or another passage, a sermon or a song that causes that “ah ha” moment . God speaks to our hearts, but sometimes we can only hear Him when we write it down.
Journaling isn’t just for Bible study time. I believe everyone should have a personal journal. Unless I’m doing an in-depth study on a particular subject, my personal journal and daily devotional journal are one and the same. One entry may be about the Scripture I read that morning, another one may be about my thoughts on the events of the day, while yet another entry may be a prayer that is on my heart.
God gives us thoughts and insights throughout the day. We should stop and write them down, lest we forget. I don’t mean that you need to carry a journal around with you all day (however, a journal app is very convenient!). I have written down insights on the backs of receipts, post-it notes, important documents (oops), you name it. I have even used the microphone app on my phone when something comes to mind while I’m driving! Sometimes, I just keep as-is, sometimes I transfer them to my journal at a later time.
A journal tracks our emotional, spiritual, and relationship growth. It reveals our pain and our healing. It encourages us keep fighting for that prize.
So, if you will allow me, I will reveal to you a portion of a very personal side of journaling. In doing so, I hope you see why I believe in this process so much.
Last week, the benefits of journaling became very evident as I skimmed through my journals in preparation for the “Treasure” post. I knew I had written down the words that God placed in my heart about “searching for the treasure”, so I began thumbing through the pages. The timing for this couldn’t have been more perfect. I had been a little discouraged over certain aspects of my life, over changes that hadn’t yet occurred, prayers that seemed to remain unanswered and so on. In reality, I was just down right feeling sorry for myself.
But God, in His wondrous and often not so ordinary way, lifted my spirits through my own words. I saw insights that He has given me and I saw prayers that had been answered. I saw change.
Some of my first entries are actually quite embarrassing. They were written by a very emotionally and spiritually broken woman. I saw in these pages a woman desperately seeking love and confirmation. I saw a woman crying out to her God, a woman turning to the only One who could give her the love and confirmation she so desperately needed. I wanted to rip the pages from their binding and burn them so that no one would ever see them. But, I couldn’t. They are my testimony of a faithful God who heals the brokenhearted.
As I continued to read, I saw a woman beginning to change. Instead of heartache and, well, whining, I saw a woman reading her Bible, writing down Scripture, applying Scripture. I saw a woman falling in love and conversing with her God on paper. I saw hope for the future and a reassurance from God that everything is a process and that everything happens on His time schedule.
I praise God for all of it! I am so thankful that I am not the woman I used to be and I know I have a long way to go before I am the one I am meant to be. But, with the evidence of a journal before me, I know God is faithful and I know He will guide me as long as I keep my eyes on the prize.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14