All of us learn differently. But, none of us learns in an isolated manner. True learning requires multiple repetitions of information presented in a variety of formats. When it comes to exploring the Bible, however, we often believe we can read a passage each day and move on, not reinforcing the message in any way.
Proceeding in this manner, day in and day out, we find ourselves surprised by those who grasp depths of Scripture that we never see. More often than not, a believer who plumbs the depths of Scripture in this way does so by reinforcing what she has read through a process as simple as journaling.
Without journaling, we have a tendency to gloss over familiar verses, miss connection points, and proceed through our reading time without processing what we have read. Journaling makes us slow down, ponder, and truly listen to the Spirit’s voice as we read.
Journaling methods vary as greatly as the individuals who journal. You will probably not journal the same way I do. But, most preferences come back to a few basic methods.
Journaling Through the Written Word
With the rise of blogging and easier methods for publishing books and e-books, many people believe that journaling is only for those who are good at writing and blogging. But, processing the Word of God is for everyone. Most journal entries are never meant to see the light of day – they are for our eyes only, or perhaps the eyes of those closest to us. You don’t have to be good at writing to journal!
The Old-Fashioned Journal
Whether we use a beautifully bound book full of blank pages, a college-lined spiral-bound notebook, or a Steno pad, traditional journaling involves the simplicity of taking notes on what we have read. This frequently includes noting the date, Scripture passage, and possibly commentary on the circumstances that surround us on that particular day.
With this method, some days will include pages upon pages of writing. Others will be a brief paragraph – after all, there is only so much to process in that chapter from Numbers or Obadiah! Some days will be neatly written and coherent. Others will reveal a scrawl caused by a rush of emotions or the rush of the day.
Those Beautiful Wide Margins
Long before special Bibles were designed with wide margins or extra space between lines, believers were jotting notes directly into their Bibles. Unlike traditional journaling, Bible journaling is typically more abbreviated. But, it is often also more diverse. Believers who journal in their Bibles do so during Bible studies and church services as well as their private reading times. Each time they reread a passage, they automatically see what they noted last time their attention was caught by that particular passage. They remember what they learned before and can compare it to what they are learning now.
Journaling Outside the Box
For some people, the written word will never offer a helpful avenue for processing Scripture. Faced with the challenge to journal, they often feel like failures from the get-go because they just cannot put their thoughts down on paper. The beautiful reality, though, is that God would not create us with unique skills and abilities that leave us lacking in our spiritual journey. It is so important to process Scripture. So, it follows that the Lord would also grant us the ability to come up with creative ways to accomplish that processing!
Talking it Out
The simple action of talking out what we have learned cements truths in our hearts and minds. Even if we cannot go back and see what we have learned in the past, the Spirit can bring conversations back to our minds as he grows and teaches us.
There are several ways to enjoy verbal journaling.
- We can talk out what we are learning with someone else who is reading the same passages with us. This is why it is great to participate in a church, family, or small group reading plan.
- We can teach what we have learned to someone else. This is the perfect option for homeschooling moms because we have a captive audience every single day – and it lays a beautiful foundation for our children’s spiritual growth as they see concrete examples of Mom’s exploration of Scripture.
- We can record our thoughts. This option is essentially a verbal version of the traditional journaling method, especially if the recordings are kept and labeled by date and Bible reference.
An Artistic Flair
For centuries, Scripture has been the inspiration for art and music. But, you don’t have to be a professional artist or musician to reflect through drawing, painting, sculpting, or song. Artistic journalists often draw in the margins of their Bibles or in sketchpads, processing their thoughts through art. Others journal through music, either creating their own tunes or utilizing the songs of others to cement scriptural truths in their hearts and minds.
The methods of journaling may vary, but the foundation of all methods remains the same. Journaling cements the truth of Scripture in our hearts and minds, allowing us to grow in that truth as we actively reinforce it – and then actively live it.