All my innermost thoughts, deep dark secrets, and clandestine activities were no longer private. My life was now, literally, an open book.
I was 12 at the time.
With the perspective and wisdom of age, I’ve long since forgiven her for that violation of privacy, but as I reflect back on the best things I've done, journaling, like it did when I was 12, once again makes the list. I hide my journals better now, but I still record my thoughts and meditations.
Instead of sitting on the rocky shores of Narragansett Bay composing pages of bad poetry, however, now I usually sit in a leather chair early in the morning and have a written dialogue with the Lord of the universe.
Like my diary-reader, God knows my innermost thoughts, deep dark secrets, and clandestine activities, but I seldom mind him reading my journals. Instead of hiding my life from him like a pre-adolescent girl, I invite him into each entry, making it a two-way conversation that, I hope, delights him as much as it delights me.
I begin each entry by counting three or more gifts. As I shared in my earlier post, The Three Best Things I Did in 2013, counting God’s good gifts in my life counteracts my natural tendency to focus on the negative, helps me walk in faith instead of fear, and causes me to fall in love with God.
After I list my gifts, I often write a prayer or two about what’s weighing heaviest on my heart. Lord, I wrote this morning, I’m concerned about my friend. Chemotherapy is so hard on her body. Give the doctors wisdom. Grow her faith. Help her be brave. Please heal her body.
If I hear or read a passage of scripture that is especially powerful or relevant, I write it down. Monday morning I wrote this: Thank you, Lord, for giving me a verse for 2014. I had only begun to ask you for one when you shined a spotlight on it during our pastor’s message last night. Thank you! “Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so you can accomplish it” (Colossians 4:17). May I be faithful to do this in the new year.
Sometimes during my quiet time, God will convict me of sin. I write those thoughts down, too. I don’t write them to keep a record of my sin, because God’s Word assures me that if I confess it, God is faithful and just to forgive me (1 John 1:9). Instead, I write it down to confess and forsake it. Because I know God desires to change me and conform me to his image, I know I'll look back on these confessions in the years to come and see how God has grown me.
I’ll never forget the New Year’s Day when God broke my heart. I read one of those wonderful passages in the Bible about how God’s children should have meek and gentle spirits, and I realized I had no such thing. Coming from a long line of Portuguese/Italians famous for yelling, I could hold my own in a conflict quite nicely. That morning, God convicted me of my quick-temperedness and helped me see my sin the way he did
I didn’t stop yelling overnight, and I wrote many more entries of confession and repentance, but little by little, God changed me. My journal entry of long ago stands as a testimony to his faithful work in my life.
If you’ve never journaled before, I encourage you to try it this year. Here are a few more good reasons.
My journal is:
A place to list my prayers and God’s answers. It’s a powerful testimony of God’s faithful work on my behalf.
A place to write Scripture and promises so I won’t forget them. I can refer back to them when I want to share them with others.
A place to puzzle through faith questions.
A written record of the thousands of gifts God gives me every year.
A tool to bolster my faith when I grow weak. Reading back through past entries reminds me of other times when I was weak and God was strong on my behalf.
A historical record of the significant (and insignificant) events of my life.
One day, when I’m in Heaven, my children and grandchildren will inherit my journals. As they read them, they’ll read about my weak faith, clay feet, and very human struggles. They’ll read about my failures and the times I let God down.
But they’ll also read about how God saved, transformed, grew, and used me. They’ll read thousands of examples of how he answered my prayers, calmed my fears, and thrilled my heart. They’ll read the Words he whispered into my frail faith and about how he made it mighty.
And they’ll know that God is real, because the evidence they hold in their hands will be unmistakable.
Do you journal? What benefits have you experienced? If you don't, what about journaling do you thing would be most helpful to you? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
If you missed The 3 Best Things I Did in 2013 Part I or The 3 Best Things I Did in 2013 Part II, I hope you'll click on over.
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