I was over at Servants of Grace Tuesday. I give four benefits to journaling as part of your spiritual maturation. How many of you journal? What benefits do you find?
We are uniquely a people of the book. God has spoken to us and he chose to preserve those words in a book, not just orally. Throughout the life of the church writing and reading has played an important part of our spiritual formation. I have for the most part found reading and writing come easily to me, but I have not found that journaling has. However, as I have struggled to keep a journal throughout my Christian life the words I have written have been formative in my maturation as a disciple.
Remember What God Has Done
Crucial to that Spirit-wrought process of transformation is our remembering what God has done. We do this in a variety of ways. We rehearse the promises of the God daily. We share our faith with others. We participate in a community of faith. We gather together on Sunday to respond to God's call to worship and to hear the gospel preached. We do all this, but we also must disciple ourselves. Remember is foundational to this self-discipleship. Moses commands Israel,
“4 ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates’” (Deut. 6:4-9).
I have found much benefit in having a place to write down what God has done for me. There’s something about seeing these tangible actions of God written in your hand. When the darkness rolls in, you can return to these and rest in them. They are from you, for you. Michael Hyatt says,
“Life is often happening so quickly I usually have little time to stop and reflect on where I am in the Bigger Story. Journaling helps me to discern the difference between the forest and the trees” (“The 7 Benefits of Keeping a Daily Journal”).
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Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and writes for CBMW Manual, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Borrowed Light, and other publications. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and offers freelance editing and book formatting services. He blogs at Grace for Sinners and Marginalia: On the Margins of the Writing Life. His family is covenanted at Downtown Presbyterian Church.