Getting the Most out of Journaling

Here’s my experience with Journaling.  When I first heard about it in the late 1980s, my initial reaction was, “Who has time for this?”  I had a young family, a full time law practice and taught  a  growing young adult Bible class at church.  My life was running at about 90 miles per hour.  I hate to admit this, but when I listened to a preacher talk about Journaling I found myself wondering, “Don’t these people have jobs?”

Fast forward to the early 1990s.  I decided to give Journaling a try.  Problem was, I felt like I had to write something important; something profound.  I was writing as though somebody else might read it.  In short (I hate to admit this too), I was writing to impress others.  Needless to say, that didn’t work.  I think I did three or four entries and then quit.

Fast forward to the early 2000s.  I had a family in transition (the boys were heading off to college), a full time law practice, and GNG was up and running.  And I was seeing a Christian counselor because I needed help with my workaholism.  In order to help me slow down and focus on God, I began Journaling in April, 2002.  I’ve been Journaling ever since.

 

Here’s my experience with it:

  1. Each day I decided to try to write one page.  So, in order to be successful, I got small notebooks.  (I’m just being honest.)
  2. At first, it was a chore.  I can honestly say I really didn’t look forward to it for the first two or three months.  I viewed it as just another thing I “needed to do.”  Think about that last sentence for a moment.  Using a Journal helps me connect with God.  But I viewed it as just another thing to do.

As a pastor, I was so wrapped-up in doing God’s work that I found it hard to squeeze in time to connect with Him.  Talk about getting the proverbial cart before the horse.  Because of my workaholism, I have always struggled balancing the “doing” of God’s work with “being” with Him.  In fact, my counselor once told me, “Jeff, you are a human DOING, not a human BEING.”

But the truth is, the power to “do” God’s work comes from “being with” Him.  The Jewish religious leaders recognized this with the Apostles.  Acts 4:13 (NLT) says:

“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had no special training.  They also recognized them as men who had BEEN WITH JESUS.” (Emphasis added)

Perhaps this explains why Martin Luther commented that he had so much to get done each day that he had to spend at least three hours in prayer.  He understood that DOING depended on BEING WITH.

Journaling has helped me move toward BEING WITH.  I still struggle with workaholism.  I probably always will.  It’s difficult for me to relax.  But, Journaling has helped.

  1. My daily entries include some of what we covered in the Prayer and Bible Study sections of CLASS 201.  For example:
    1. Thanking God for who He is and what He has done
    2. Asking for forgiveness
    3. Praying for others
    4. Praying for issues facing GNG and for the wisdom to deal with them
    5. Notes on the passage of Scripture I’m reading
  2. Do I ever miss a day of Journaling?  Yes.  I can’t claim perfection.  But I don’t beat myself up over it.  I just start again the next day.  Now, if I miss a day, it bothers me.  I sense a lack of connection with God.

So don’t quit just because you miss a day.  Think of it this way.  Have you ever missed a meal?  Did you decide never to eat again because you missed a meal?  Of course not!

I hope this helps.