My first diary was green plastic with a small lock to keep my secrets a secret. It had Holstein cows wearing sunglasses. I thought it was THE coolest diary in the world. I bet if I look in a few boxes in my basement, I could find it.
Writing has always been something I enjoyed, so naturally, when I began my faith journey nearly five years ago, journaling was something I wanted to make sure I made part of my routine.
Every morning, I open up Jesus Calling and Jesus Always, two devotionals by Sarah Young, my Bible and a journal. I’m always excited to see what piece of scripture will stand out to me the most, then I journal about is using the SOAP. method.
For you men reading this, maybe you’re thinking, “journaling isn’t really my thing.”
I hear you.
Would it help if I told you I know a man who considers journaling one of his “skinny places,” too?
My friend Sam keeps a journal like me.
I knew he was a cool dude!
For Sam, he always wanted to keep a journal, but it always seemed to fail for one reason or another. Here’s more from Sam about keeping a journal:
“Late last year, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to begin reading the New Testament from beginning to end and write my thoughts during that exploration. I realized that I knew all the stories we go over during worship, but never knew the writings that occurred between these verses and how they impacted our understanding of the Word of God. At first, I thought this little exercise was simply to take notes, but I quickly realized it was more than that. This may seem weird or cliché, but I actually felt the Holy Spirit flowing from my body, through my hand, into the pen, and onto the page.
Before even opening anything, I take a few minutes to pray. I pray for forgiveness, I pray for those on my personal prayer list, I give thanks for the gifts God has provided to me, and I pray for wisdom to read the bible with an open mind and spirit… to read what God wants me to read. There are also times I just sit in silence and listen, sometimes God is speaking to us and we do not even know it since we are too busy talking. When I have finished my prayer, I begin my study.
I have learned to be patient and read only a little bit at a time so that I can fully focus on what is being written. Sometimes this is only a few verses and sometimes this is a few chapters…I wait for God’s inspiration to help guide my journey. I jot down verses that stand out to me, I write down explanations of these verses as needed (even taking the time to look up online commentaries if needed), and then I end with my “Thoughts” on what I have just read…how does it make me feel, what could it all mean, how does it affect how I live my life? Sometimes I am writing to myself and sometimes I am writing to an anonymous audience. This is when I let the Spirit flow. When you do this, it is amazing what comes out.”
Like Sam, I start my day with scripture often before I get out of bed (I read K-LOVE’s Encouraging Word of the Day and go from there) and often get up an hour before I probably need to in order to have plenty of time to write.
After I start the coffee pot, I head to the dining room table to prepare my heart and head for what I’m about to read. I’m always so hopeful that the Lord will “speak” to me. I recite Psalm 143:8-9 as my opening prayer:
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you, I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
If you’ve been thinking of a different way to connect to God, try journaling. Like Sam, you might be surprised what the Lord reveals to you.
I want to give Sam a big THANK YOU for sharing his journaling experience with me and with you. I hope to share more from Sam soon!
About Sam: Sam Giroux lives in Boonville, MO with his lovely wife of almost 14 years and two adorable daughters. He’s a member of the Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church. Sam is currently reading Every Man’s Bible, New Living Translation, but he also consults the New International Version and the King James Version when discerning important verses. His favorite verses include Luke 18:14 and Acts 20:24, and he enjoys long walks on the beach. Just kidding…I added that final part. 🙂