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  • Journaling

    Here is an inspirational blog about journalling from Ben Waite, along with guidance and motivation on how begin journaling your experiences.

    Journaling - primary image

    Photo by Ben Haley

    Do you remember what you were thinking on the 31st January 2006… well I do. I was somehow so flummoxed that I thought it worthy of 3 lines of my journal to write this observation of the difference between going to school and going to college.

    ‘College is quite weird. Where as in School there were loads of birds (sea gulls) but hardly any bird poo, there’s loads of bird poo around college but the birds are nowhere to be seen. Just an observation’

    My journals are full of ridiculous thoughts, observations and deliberations over the years which provide me with streams of entertainment — now that I like to say that I’ve matured. Journaling though, has always been more than the immature ramblings of a younger me. It’s actually a story of how God has dealt with me and reminded me of his faithfulness and promise to bring to completion what he started. Maybe you don’t remember what happened in January 2006 — nonetheless, I pray that this piece brings encouragement and a motivation to continue your journey in Christ, but with a journal to hand and October 2015 in your memory as the month you started.

    Paper, Orange, Bubble bee, and an idea
    I was 14, the year was 2003, 6th June, and I was nearly finishing yr9 for the summer. A bright sunset coloured, spiral-bound, bubble bee note-book somehow caught my eye that evening. Maybe it was calling me… all I remember is thinking “it’s a shame this present is going to waste, maybe I can write some ideas and stuff about me in it”. Little did I know that this was the genesis of a discipline that would continue well into my twenties.

    To begin with, 90% of my daily entries were about the ‘day to day’ dealings of Ben Waite. And apparently 90% of my daily dealings involved video games. It’s almost embarrassing reading back how obsessed I was about them. God was relegated to few choice words at the end of some days but it reveals where my real passion lied at that age.

    The ‘college era’ journal entries revealed my “moany singleton complex”. The plethora of beautiful college girls was too much to handle for a 16yr old Ben. God got more of a platform though; he was the recipient of most of my moaning “why do girls have to be so beautiful God?” “X from my sport and P.E class is so nice, when am I going to get a girlfriend God?” were frequent entries. But as God started to grow me spiritually the fruit of my journaling became obvious. God was using these pages to help me remember what He was doing. He was changing me.

    Haven’t you remembered? We’re forgetful.

    God knows what we are like, God knows we are forgetful and God places a high value on us remembering what he has done. That’s why he instituted ‘The Passover’ for example. It was to serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in rescuing the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 12). Another act of remembrance began after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry land. God gave Joshua instructions about setting up memorial stones, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6–8). Psalms 77 and 143 talk specifically about remembering God’s works in times of hardship and Jesus also encourages us to remember, having instituted remembering the covenant he made with us, through the communion bread and the wine. There are many land marks in our lives, prophecies declared over us, prayers we have said, conversations we have had or meetings we have attended, pivotal moments the memories of which may have become faded by time. I feel God would encourage us to lay down our own memorial stones and Journals can be one tool for us to remember what God has done in our lives.

    Laying some stones: How to start?
    So you recognise your inability to remember and you recognise the benefit of starting to Journal. How do you start?

    Find a Journal: Buy yourself a nice journal that is appealing to write in. Online or at a Christian book shop there are plenty of sizes and colours to suit you. Alternatively, embrace the 21st Century with apps or note taking on your phone.

    Invite Him: Invite God to use your journaling experiences to draw you closer to Him and help you grow as a person. Ask Him to use your journaling to help you discover more about both Him and yourself.

    Prayers, Prophecies and Ponderings: Journaling is closely linked to an intimate relationship with Jesus. It didn’t start that way with me but if we are talking about Journaling as a spiritual tool for growth, journaling your day to day activities can quickly become tedious. Writing your prayers and subsequently writing any answers to prayers can be really encouraging.  Journaling your prophecies not only provide a safe central place to find them again for encouragement but pondering them and writing your thoughts about them can be faith building; especially when God starts to answer and reveal them in the future in ways you weren’t expecting. Finally if you are growing closer to God He will be speaking to you. I find writing what I feel God challenging me about useful, as I can see how God is working on me as my ideas change.

    Ben, you’ve got to do better than that
    So you recognise your inability to remember but you’re still not convinced or motivated to start. Why start?

    Encouragement: You will need encouragement on this Christian journey; sources of which may be friends at church or outside of church, family and of course the Bible and the promises it contains. A journal can become another source, as God may draw you to times previously where you needed him and he came through for you or truth he revealed. God will speak to you through what you write. 

    Leads to worship: A journal can reveal the plans of God’s in an obvious way and reading different parts of your journey will inevitably lead you to worship as you see with hindsight His hand in everything. God encourages us to think on what he has done. In Psalm 111:2 it says, “Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.” A journal can help facilitate this.

    Time to Listen and Receive: Writing causes us to slow down enough to attend to our inner being and hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Writing is a method to help us reflect, contemplate, and more, fully digest the things of life. As we do this coupled with prayer and the word we grow spiritually. Proverbs 4 talks about gaining wisdom at all costs. Its words imply intentionality and alertness something that journaling can help us with. God gives wisdom and guidance to those that ask. Journaling then can be a tool to grow spiritually in the Lord as you hear him speak to you and you gear your listening ear to him and record what He is saying. As you do this expect to grow.

    Write to the point
    Journaling is an exciting opportunity to document the great things that God is doing in your life. There is no right or wrong way to do it and don’t feel like you are tied to it. For some people they will find it beneficial to write regular entries, for others not so much and that’s fine. Students… expect God to grow you over the course of these years here, he will do many things but this is a guarantee. You won’t remember everything God does unless you write it down. I saw a clear difference between my college and school in 2006 but I see an even clearer difference in myself between college and university. Jesus used university to clean up my premises and how he did that will live long in the memory. Remembering what God has done brings me much joy and encouragement for the future and ultimately it leads me to worship at his great works. But it’s made that bit easier with my old journals beside me.

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