An aid to growing up spiritually
People have teased me that whenever I speak about growing up spiritually, I inevitably speak about journal keeping. Do you journal? Are you writing this down? Do you keep a journal? I have kept a journal since my early twenties, and how I journal as changed as much as I have changed in all those years.
I started journal keeping while I was at university. I remember going to one of my mentors and asking her a complicated question about my faith. Dina listened to my question and then simply said: “I am not sure, but I do remember having this discussion with the Lord before, let me look into my journal.” She then pulled out an A4 book and after paging a little, was able to answer my question from the notes she had made.
What a treasure I thought, all that information ready at your fingertips.
I was inspired to start building my own journals to refer to. Today, that is exactly what my journals are: a record of my conversations with God. As I study, meditate, pray and deal with my life, my journals are a record of my insights, my prayers, my frustrations, my promises received from scripture that help me through life. They are not a “dear diary” type of record, but rather more like a handwritten record of a discussion.
My journals have also kept record of the most important events, discussions or decisions of my life. The scriptures and insights I gain during these seasons are the foundation to life changing decisions. I record these in detail for future reference. Six months down the line, when I am in the thick of it and I start asking “what I was thinking” and “why am I doing this.” This is when I pull the journal out to remind me of that decision time in my life, and why I made those decisions. I often find them an encouragement to me and a reminder that God shapes my life by the choices and decisions I make based on His Word.
Now, every few months, I retreat and take my journal and read everything that I have written over a long period of time, highlighting, making notes and lists. It is during this time that I often discover common themes to my times with the Lord.
I really do believe that God is always speaking to us, we are not always listening.
Reading through my journals I have often picked up things that He has been telling me, but I was not paying attention on that specific day. Sometimes, to pick up what God and I have been talking about, I will just go back a few days or weeks in my journal. I have found that a relationship with God becomes real if you are able to pick up on a conversation.
I also use my journal to make spiritual markers for myself. A spiritual marker is a record of God’s activity in my life. What am I praying for? What am I struggling with? What do I want to see in the future? What aspect of myself am I working on right now? What do I know and understand now? It helps me keep track of my journey with the Lord and my own spiritual growth. If I pull out a journal from five years ago, I can see commitments I made to the Lord, how God responded, how my faith has grown, how truths have become part of the very fiber of my person.
Now years later, my journals are the source of most of my blog posts, my heart treasures that I am now sharing with you. They are also my source of information from scripture when I need to give another person advice. I also find that my own stories (which I have long forgotten) become the comfort that someone else needs, or the lesson they need to learn, or the material for a retreat that I am planning.
After reading my bible regularly and praying, journal keeping is the next spiritual discipline that has most contributed to my own spiritual growth.
If my house had to catch fire, I would have a hard time choosing between photos and journals because of the scriptural insights recorded there. I believe it is the one thing you can do, to step up your spiritual walk, if you are already reading your bible and praying.
I hope that by sharing this with you today, you would also consider making regular journal keeping a part of your spiritual disciplines. You don’t have to write every day, or pages of it. Just a record of what God is saying to you.
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ Exodus 34:27
Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” Habakkuk 2:2
He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Revelation 21:5
Thank you Father that I am able to write down the things You share with me. Because your servants faithfully recorded Your words, we have a bible today. Still others have recorded insights and it has given us a wealth of excellent material to assist us in spiritual growth. Thank you that I too, am able to have a relationship with You and record my own personal insights. Your Word promises that you are never finished with us, but that Your work in us will continue until we see You face to face. I am excited to keep a record of your work in my life, for it will be the evidence for rejoicing.