I have had a journal for as long as I can remember. This habit has transformed my life, and looking back on the beginning is sort of comical – it’s sort of developed in phases.
Age 7 through high school was what I’d like to summarize as the “dear diary phase” – mostly superficial and on a rare occasion (in HS) a glimpse into what was truly going on in my head and heart. It was mainly daily/weekly/monthly/season of life summaries: Boys I liked followed by the reasons I no longer liked them a month (truthfully most of the times weeks) later ; relationship challenges that left me clueless ; and how much I hated doing things I didn’t really like/ want to do.
Then life got more complicated. Things got deep. I went to college and learned a lot more about myself, my heart, the world, and had a host of new experiences. I went to counseling. I felt a and had to deal with a lot of toxic emotions, relationships, and lies.
As these things began to unfold and weigh on me, and as my dependence on the Lord began to grow, journaling changed. Writing in my journal became an outlet. It was a way to pour out my heart to the Lord and remind my heart of truths that were threatened to be drowned out by the noise of my life. At the beginning of my senior year of college I told the Lord “I don’t know what’s going on, but I know I need you. So I am going to read your Word trusting you will do something with it.”
I was desperate, and I wrote about this desperation as I read. I wrote about what I was learning. Eventually writing truths became songs as looking back over the Word and meditating came with melodies. There was, however, one particular marked point that transformed my journaling that I come back to often.
This turning point came while reading in Deuteronomy where God tells the Israelites numerous times not to forget where he has brought them from – “out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (Deuteronomy 6:12)
“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord Your God by failing to keep his commandments…” (Deuteronomy 8:11)
“Be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He lead you through a great and terrible wilderness” (Deuteronomy 8:14 – )
and Chapter 8 verse 17 – 18 says…
“You may say to yourself, ‘my power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me, but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power”
And my absolute favorite is Deuteronomy 2:7 “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These 40 years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.”
These truths ring true even more today ! We must be careful not to forget God and become prideful, forsaking his Words and His will for our lives. The remembrance God calls the Israelites to exercise can be and should be done by us – remembering God’s Word but also remembering past deliverance in our lives – starting with our salvation ! That is what journaling has been for me – a much needed reminder of deliverance. The same pattern we see in Deuteronomy where their hope for future deliverance was rooted in the past is true for us ! But here in the already and not yet – in between Christs death and second coming – it is a wilderness ! Life is hard !
I know in one of the most difficult times in my life and on hard days – dealing with chronic health issues – often the ability to look back at what God has already done gets me through from one day to the next. I don’t find complete relief from the present pain, but I rejoice because I know that this is not my eternal home ! Our hope for the future resurrection rests in the past life, death and resurrection of Christ !
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection for the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order : Christ the firstfruits , then at his coming those who belong to Christ “
(I Corinthians 15: 20-23)
We are awaiting Christs coming ! That is such a comfort for everyday life. We need Jesus in every moment ! I don’t know about you but I need CONSTANT reminders ! And when I hit a wall, which I often do, of anxiety or depression where I freeze up, flipping through the pages of my Bible Journal or journal to read truths soothes my heart and give me the reality check I need – this Earth is not my home; pain is not forever; and the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
Journaling has been a way to root myself in the truths of God’s Word and put these before my eyes when circumstances make hope seem fleeting. It has breathed life into a deadened prayer life to read and pray Scriptures back to God.
Journaling has been a way to put the life – giving, salvific work of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ before my eyes on days that I am tempted to forget my deliverance in the midst of my life wilderness. I never want to forget the past grace of God in my life, and being reminded of that gives me ample hope moving, each day towards the future.
So if you already do or even if you do not, I implore you to journal : chronicle the present – what you are learning, prayers, and God’s Word so that in the wilderness you do not forget what has once been taken to heart!