Journaling to the Heart

Why I Journal_LLB

Why I Journal

I have been an avid-journaler since I was in the 7th grade. I attended a private, Christian school and had a Bible teacher who taught us about the importance of studying the Bible as well as journaling. Prior to hearing this, I only considered journaling as a sort of diary where I wrote down my feelings, what happened in my day, and anything else that popped into my head. Needless to say, there wasn't much fruit from these diaries in elementary school, other than the fruit of laughter when I read what I wrote! My teacher had us start a journal in class that we used to answer hard questions and study the depths of Scripture. I began to see the importance of writing out my thoughts, thinking critically, and talking to the Lord each day.

Journaling is more than writing down thoughts and feelings. It is a pathway to know the Lord more intimately. Psalm 45:1 describes it this way, "My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer." It is a way we record our journey with God and remember all that He has done. Not only that, but journaling is a tool God uses to reveal to us what is in the depths of our hearts. I created the "Give Me Jesus" journal during a season of desert in my life. Within two years, I moved to a new place, got married, started a business, and had also walked through my mom being in ICU. It felt as if my identity and security in Christ had been ripped from beneath me. I struggle to write out my heart because there was just too much to trudge through. During that time, I barely journaled. I couldn't bring myself to write or think deeply with the Lord. Earlier this year, the Lord gave me the idea to create this journal to use during my quiet time. Through much prayer and study, God walked me through the creative process and led me to the design of the journal.

Today, I want to share with you my heart behind journaling and why I have journaled for over 15 years now. I pray God begins to use this practice in your life to draw you nearer to His heart. 

Journal to Remember

We are forgetful people. Each day God reveals to us beautiful glimpses of His grace that we either miss or forget by the next day. Psalm 78 describes the journey of the Israelites leaving slavery. In verses 5-7, we see the purpose of this chapter, "He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." We have the entire Word of God as a reminder of His great faithfulness. We can look back at the Old Testament and remember that God parted the Red Sea, delivered the Israelites from slavery, and was true to His promises. We can read in the New Testament about the sacrifice of Christ that we might have new life in Him. God has given us His Word as our hope and a reminder of His faithfulness to His promises.

We honor God when we remember what He has done. Through journaling, we can chronicle our days and look back and remember His faithfulness even in the little things. I have a few journals from my parents that I love to read! One of them was during the time my dad was pursuing my mom. Reading about how my mom faithfully relied on the Lord and how my dad sought the Lord has encouraged me throughout the years, especially in my single years. Our journals can serve as a witness to God's faithfulness to us when we need a reminder, and to our children who will read our journals one day. 

Give Me Jesus Journal
Give Me Jesus Journal

Journal to Understand

Through writing out our thoughts, questions, and studies of Scripture, God reveals to us marvelous truths in His Word. When I study Scripture or have a deep heart question, I write it down and seek the truth. Even as I study certain passages, I will write down everything I see - themes, repeated words, truths, promises - and through that God reveals to me the purpose of that text. Our heartiest are like a deep well. We need to draw out what is inside, and one way to do this is through writing.

"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law." ~Psalm 119:18

"Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart." ~Psalm 119:33-34

Journal to Speak

Prayer is a precious gift of God as well as weapon we have to fight with. It is one of the most underused spiritual gifts, and yet Scripture tells us it has incredible power AND it is the way that we talk to God. Not only that, but we can pray to the Lord at ALL times about ALL things. One problem is, we are distracted humans. There have been so many times I was going to "pray" before falling asleep and fell asleep before I could even begin. There have been other times I've set out to pray and kept thinking about my to-do list rather than the presence of God. When I journal and write down my prayers and speak to God, I not only stay focused, but I can look back and see how God has answered my prayers. God also uses this time to reveal to me what is truly in my heart. When I see it on paper, it is different that when I think it. We have all of Scripture because it was written down and recorded. Most of the Psalms are prayers of David that he wrote down. We can take this example in our journaling life and write down our prayers and praises to God.

Journal to Stay on Track

One last reason I journal is to stay on track. My journal is a tool for accountability. The structure of the Give Me Jesus Journal is set up to point us toward study, prayer, Scripture memorization, gratitude, and obedience. Journaling has been a faithful tool to keep me going toward a goal and spending time daily in the presence of the Lord.

Journal to Dream Big

God has given me dreams to accomplish for Him since I was a little girl. Through journaling, I have been able to see a consistent theme in what He has called me to. On days when I doubt His calling, I look back at journals from years before and can remember my confidence in the calling of God. God has used this to call me to do greater things for His Kingdom and be steadfast in what He has called me to do. Journal to test what is in your heart and dream the dreams of God.

I pray that you, too, would begin the process of journaling. You don't have to be an avid writer or thinker, just a lover of Jesus who wants to know Him more through His Word, prayer, and remembering. I would love to hear more reasons why you journal as well! May we record our days to the glory of our Great God.

journaling with you,

Gretchen

Another great resource on reasons to journal is John Piper's Desiring God blog post "Why Do You Journal" as well as David Mathis's post on "Journal as a Pathway to Joy."