A Summer Challenge For You
We each have story after story we can tell that happened today, last week or last year. Storytelling is instinct to us. Storytelling is main way we form relationships, explain situations, educate, and needed for relaxation. God knew this from the beginning because that’s the main way He teaches and reaches us.
For several years I’ve been pretty passionate about writing your story in some form or fashion – even if it’s just one, small one. It’s important. I think it really is so I’m going to share some reason why it is and some tips on how to. You can take it or leave but I do hope you’ll read on and take this challenge:
I challenge you to keep a journal this summer. Maybe rise up a little earlier before it’s too hot and sit outside and jot down a few thoughts or a prayer to start your day. Maybe you have a situation in the middle of the day you need to get off your chest or see a joy you want to thank God for – write it down. Or maybe in the evening or night where you need to slow down, regroup, and rest – journaling will help you do those things.
So, here’s some explanation about it and hope this peaks an interest in you. Spiritual journaling (or faithbooking) is a powerful way to remember and reflect on how God is in your everyday life. God is active and alive in our lives and writing it down helps witness to the present and future family and friends. “Remember” is the most basic command of the Bible. The word remember is used over 250 times in Scripture, not counting the hundreds of times we read “don’t forget”.
In her book Winter Grace, Kathleen Fischer writes, “Biblical remembering isn’t simply ‘living in the past’. The Hebrews verb ‘to remember’ means, ‘bringing the past into the present in such a way that it influences present decisions and conduct.”
Now Moses is a cool dude. I look up to him in so many ways and look forward to meeting him one day. So I’m going to parallel his life story with our lives today. Before we do that though, I want to share a little bit about the benefits and importance of journaling.
How many times do we see in Scripture when God blessed his people in miraculous and personal ways? The pages of the Bible are filled with their stories. And yet, far too often, those same people soon forget what the Lord has done and were swallowed up in self-pity and doubt. So how can keeping a spiritual journal help us not to forget like the Israelites (which is so easy to do)? And what are the benefits of spiritual journaling?
Spiritual Journaling is a way to glorify God. Your story can be a love letter to God. For something different, write (or type) your prayer or conversation with God. For me personally, it helps my mind to stay focused because often when I pray without writing, I get off course and start thinking about what I need to do that day. This also allows you to read it later in life and be reminded how God was in the midst of your life at that particular time. To write words of praise to God glorifies Him!
Spiritual Journaling increases your faith. We will be able to look back and be reminded of how the Lord has healed or rescued us, has sustained us through challenging times, how He gave us special spiritual gifts and how our faith GROWS. It’s a good thing to have when you’re having a rotten day. What you do on those types of days? Go find your notebook or journal and read it over again. It’ll help you draw closer to God to see how He’s been working in your life and bring your encouragement.
Spiritual Journaling helps you train your children, family & friends to the Lord’s faithfulness.
Deuteronomy 32:7 is the song Moses sings, “Read up on what happened before you were born; dig into the past, understanding your roots. Ask your parents what it was like before you were born; ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two.” (MSG)
Spiritual Journaling can help you memorize Scripture. Write down verses that have special meaning to you. Record verses you felt the Holy Spirit lead you to read during a particular time in your life and how those words were encouraging, convicting or reaffirming. Take Scripture, write it down and made it personal to your story. Scripture is very important to record and journal about, but don’t leave out other ways you’ve heard God speaking to you. Words in hymns or worship songs, poems, quotes from books or sermons would also be good to reflect on if it was a divine intervention in your life or decision making process.
Spiritual Journaling can also reinforce your family values, encourage you and others, and help us to develop a grateful attitude in your life.
Spiritual journaling is your story where God is in each period of your life… how you responded (or failed to respond) and what you became out of it. We can come to understand our stories better if it’s written. And I use “we” because your story is something that needs to be shared. God doesn’t want us to live our lives in seclusion and keep everything to ourselves. We are to share the gospel and how God is in our lives in the unique ways God made us to share.
In Deut. 4:9 Moses says to the people, “Be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen, or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.” Your journey can be paralleled with Moses’ life journey as he led the Israelites who longed for their true home. Isn’t that what we’re aiming for? Our true home in heaven one day? The Bible is a recording of Moses’ spiritual journey. After all, he wrote the first five books in the Bible so he really did a lot of journaling!
What about your spiritual journey? Have you had any experiences similar to the ones that Moses and the Israelites had? I’m sure you have. Have you had…
A burning bush experience (Exodus Chapters 3-4) where you clearly heard God speak to you? Is there a moment or season when you began to sense who God really is?
An exodus, or freedom from bondage, captivity or false security as the people were freed from Egypt? (Exodus 12: 31-51)? This is your deliverance story. Looking at your past, present and/or future, what has or do you want God to deliver you from? What does God want you to be freed from?
A crossing the Red Sea experience where God opened doors for you? (Exodus 13:17-14:31) When has God helped you conquer your enemy? How? When has God brought you clarity? How are you following God? How are you leading others?
A wilderness experience where your behavior (or disobedience) was similar to the Israelites’ when they wandered, complained and sinned. When have you been selfish and need to be restored? When were you stuck in anger, self doubt or anxious? Ask God in wilderness times, “What do You have for me in all of this that’s going on?” How is God testing you?
Blessings that the Lord has given you and longs to give you that show how much He loves you. When have you felt the presence of God in your life?
Desire of reaching the Promised Land where you have chosen life? (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Have you discovered your heart’s home? Where is your home feeling, comfort and security? When has your heart been restored or redeemed when you chose life? Is Jesus in the home of your heart?
Alan Wright, author of The God Moment Principle says “Even mature, well-meaning Christians have an incredible ability to forget the extraordinary moments of God. The memory dulls. The moment loses its luster. And soon, the life changing power is gone – spiritual amnesia has set in.”
It should be a life-long exercise to journal about your spiritual journey. It shows how God has worked and changed your life.
So now I’d like us to take a few minutes and do an exercise to help get you started on your spiritual journaling journey.
Take your favorite Bible verse and write it down. After that, write when and why that verse is special to you. What did the Holy Spirit reveal to you through Scripture? How do you apply it to your day-to-day life?
Choose one of the God Moments mentioned in Moses’ life and relate it to an experience in your life where you’ve felt the holy nudging of God. What is your story? What was the situation? What did you learn? How did/does it feel? (You can look through your notes taken from our study and find what you learned the most and then find which God Moment experience it relates to.)
Keep a journal book and when you have a revelation while studying Scripture, praying or listening to music, a situation at work or home, write it down in a special book that you can look back on. You’re writing your story you’ve been living and it helps you keep focus on God and the role you have in God’s Story.
I hope you’ll take the challenge this summer!