A Time to Remember
Several years ago, I found myself spending an afternoon in a very different way than I had planned. I’d come to my desk trying to find something I just couldn’t seem to track down. In the midst of searching every nook and cranny of the desk, I opened one little door to find a collection of my old journals. Deciding to pause in my other pursuit for just a minute, I sat down and pulled one from its place. But as I opened the cover and fingered slowly through the pages, that “just a minute” turned into many minutes as I was captivated by what I read.
I found myself reliving those moments of pouring my heart out before the Lord, praising Him, laying burdens at His feet, petitioning Him on behalf of others. And over and over again I realized the countless ways He had displayed His faithfulness to me in the months and years since penning those things. I was in awe over the beautiful and unique answers to prayer, the ways He carried me through painful waiting seasons, the evidences of His love lacing every aspect of my life. As I put the journal away, I continued my original search with a heart of praise to my ever-faithful Heavenly Father.
A Time to Draw Near
I have journaled for many years now. Since early high school, most of my journaling has been prayers as I began to spend regular time with the Lord. But as time has passed, my journals have been used in other ways, too, in moments spent in His presence. Writing out passages of Scripture, penning my thoughts as I meditate on verses, writing down the meanings of words that jump out to me, or simply things that pop into my mind that I don’t want to forget but that can wait until later to ponder deeply.
My journals through the years have become a documentation of God’s work in my life, an evidence of His drawing near to me and opening my eyes to greater truths about who He is, and a reminder of how faithful He has been to me.
It’s all too easy to forget what God has done for us. When He supernaturally displays His power, when He brings a long-awaited answer to prayer, when He shows us His love in seemingly “big” ways, we don’t have to be told to remember how good He is. But when life is mundane, when we go through tough waiting seasons, when we’re enduring pain and suffering, it’s much harder to remember and cling to the truth about who He is.
A Time of Encouraging
Or sometimes, it’s the opposite. When we’re going through a tough season, we see the Lord at work amidst our difficulties, He grows us by leaps and bounds as our souls are tested and shaped by trials, and we experience personally the reality that His “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Then, when these trials are lifted and life begins to return to normal, we can find ourselves fretting over much smaller things than what we had walked through before because we’ve forgotten His faithfulness to us.
All throughout the Old Testament we see God telling His people to remember who He is and what He’d done for them (Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 7:18; Joshua 1:13; 1 Chronicles 16:12).
There were tassels the men wore and special stones on the priests’ garments specifically for the purpose of remembering Who they served and to Whom they belonged (Numbers 15:39; Exodus 28:12).
Stones of Remembrance
Journals can become “stones of remembrance” to remind us who God is and how faithful He has been to us. When we’re walking through difficulty, we can use them to write down what we know to be true about Him. We can look back through old entries to see how He has worked, even when we weren’t aware of it. When we’re tempted to think we don’t need Him when life feels easy, we can look back at the ways He showed His faithfulness to us in dark seasons. When the voices of the world seem really loud, we can flip through old pages and remember what He has taught us through His Word. Our journals can become a hand-written declaration of our devotion to and love for God as we determine to use them for His glory.
There is no one “right” way to use a journal in our time with the Lord, but here are a few ways I’ve found it to be a wonderful tool to help me engage better in my time with Him.
I mentioned this earlier, but using a journal as a way to pray can be really helpful. Often during my times of prayer I can become sleepy or my mind can easily wander from one thing to the next. Starting by writing out my prayers helps me to articulate my thoughts, and often leads to more focused prayer throughout the day. I typically start by praising the Lord for who He is and the ways I see His faithfulness in my life, which aligns my perspective and prepares my heart for thankfulness as I bring my requests to Him.
I love to meditate on Scripture—sit and soak in a passage, reading it over and over and thinking about each thing I see. I often call it pondering Scripture. Writing down the observations I’m making as I meditate has been a wonderful and key way of helping those ponderings stick as I go throughout my day.
Another way journaling has been really helpful for me is using it to process what God is teaching me. Articulating specifically how I see Him at work has increased my faith, quieted fears, brought to mind promises from His Word, and become an opportunity to testify to myself of His goodness, faithfulness, love, mercy, grace, and kindness in my life.
An Eternal Memory
We can never remember enough how great God is, how good He has been to us, and how worthy He is of our adoration. In a world where there are distractions galore, using a tool like a journal to help us tune out the clamor and fix our eyes on Him is incredibly worthwhile. By itself, a journal is neither here nor there. But when we choose to use it to help us dwell on God, writing down what we learn about Him through His Word, and pouring out our hearts to Him in prayer, it becomes an eternally significant investment.
Your friend, Heather
Heather Cofer is a wife and mother with a passion for encouraging others to love Jesus with all their hearts. This comes through writing, leading worship, and being actively involved in life-on-life discipleship alongside her husband, Judah, who is one of the pastors at their church. She is a regular contributor to the ministry of Set Apart Girl, and you can follow along on Heather’s journey through her blog, Instagram, or Facebook.