"Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you," the LORD instructed the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:2).
This caught my attention recently, because writing is such an integral part of my devotional life-I have over 25 years of my life documented in journals. While the circumstances and context of God's instruction to Jeremiah are very different from our experiences with God, "writing in a book" is a helpful tool for bolstering our devotional lives.
Journaling forces me to linger over a verse longer than I normally would. During my devotions, if a particular verse or phrase catches my eye, I write it down and begin meditating on it. Reading through Jeremiah recently, this phrase jumped out at me: "Their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen" (Jer 6:10 ESV). As I wrote this phrase, I pondered what it meant that they had uncircumcised ears, noting some of the things that came to mind: ears that are covered, blocked, unable to hear God's voice.
As I wrote out the passage, I remembered that circumcision is also described in God's Word as a sign of: spiritual rebirth (Romans 2:29), God's covenant (Genesis 17:11), and spiritual humility (Deuteronomy 10:16). I was reminded of some key spiritual truths I had not considered in a long time. I prayed something like: LORD, circumcise my ears, so I can hear you when you speak. Let me hear your warnings, your instructions, your encouragement, and your assurance. The concept of uncircumcised ears became more meaningful when I incorporated it into my prayers. Suddenly, a passage that seemed only about the history of rebellious Israel had a very practical, personal application.
My journals also serve as a spiritual autobiography. I don't remember some of the things I prayed about as a fifteen-year-old, but reading through my childhood journals, I see a young girl who earnestly sought God. I can also look back on some of my darkest seasons and see how God was with me, even when I had stopped seeking Him.
Journaling also prepared me for a trial I experienced while serving the LORD in Asia. I was following a Bible-in-a-Year reading plan, and one morning, my reading included Hebrews 10:34, "you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one" (ESV). I didn't know why at the time, but I marked that verse in my Bible and wrote it in my journal. Later that week, my room was plundered, and some of my property was stolen. Normally, I would have been shaken by such a violation, but I thought of what I had written in my journal and had a calm peace-an assurance that God had prepared me for it. I dealt with the situation much more joyfully than I would have otherwise, which served as a powerful testimony to the Muslim students I was working with.
Moving into this New Year, why not make journaling part of how you connect with God? I suspect that, like me, you will be amazed as you read through the pages of old journals and see what God has done. You will see prayers that were answered, problems that were solved, and people who were saved. Keep a record of how God moves in your life, and over time, you will see how intimately God is involved. Then, one day, you will read with awe the testimony God has written on the pages of your life.
Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Logos Bible Software. Each issue of Bible Study Magazine provides tools and methods for Bible study as well as insights from people like John Piper, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Kay Arthur, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Barry Black, and more. More information is available at http://www.biblestudymagazine.com. Originally published in print: Copyright Bible Study Magazine (Jan–Feb 2010): pg. 8.