The Art of Journaling

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The Art of Journaling

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I just got back from teaching one of my favorite subjects to students at our Ambassador Bible Center. This morning was a detour from my normal doctrines class. I pulled out a presentation on the art of journaling and encouraged the students to begin keeping a daily journal of their life's experiences. The attention span seemed a bit better during this class so I think the topic connected with several.

I have been keeping a journal all my adult life, ever since I spent a summer in Israel working on an archaeological dig as a student. Recording my travels, thoughts and feelings about that trip ignited a lifelong desire to keep track of my life in writing. There have been gaps, but in recent years I have been more diligent. Going back through an old journal is like visiting someone from the past. My thoughts and ideas 20 years ago have been refined over time.

I used the example of David in writing his Psalms as one biblical example of a person who kept a "journal." The long days he spent keeping his father's sheep on the Judean hills opened his mind and heart to compose words on his harp that were later set down in writing and we know them as Psalms. These songs that began as words and thoughts from his heart have been read by generations for encouragement, inspiration and spiritual direction. These words give us insight into the heart of a man whose relationship with God was chiseled into form one stroke at a time. Notice the opening from Psalm 5:1, "To the Chief Musician. With flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my word, O LORD, consider my meditation."

David thought deeply of his impressions and at some point the words he sang were written down for worship. They became a part of the temple liturgy and then a part of sacred scripture. The Psalms can be read as thoughts of a worshipper put to words. Any of us can read them and learn how to talk to God and "work out" our salvation within God's canopy of grace. My point to the students is to look at David as a man who sincerely wanted to know God and could express himself in in words. Journaling, sitting down each day and working through the thoughts and experiences of our life, can help you develop a better spiritual life. Coupled with Bible study, prayer and a daily writing regimen sharpens our insight into ourselves and our interaction with life.

Solomon wrote that we should pay careful attention to our heart, (Psalm 4:23). Journaling helps me know the state of my heart. It is one of the tools I use to nurture and monitor my deepest feelings. It can do the same for you. If you have been thinking about keeping a personal journal I encourage you to begin now. The biggest expense is your time. I guarantee you it will be "money" well spent.