As I scroll through the blogs tagged “Christianity” tonight, many of them are promoting more scripture reading in 2013. Of course, being the sweet and mild pastor’s wife that I am, I clearly favor copious amounts of Bible reading. However, as I look around my immediate Christian world, I see very few of us who are short on Bible knowledge. Many of us, however, lack direction and revelation. So I want to propose that we do less Bible reading (holdonI’mnotdoneyet)… and more listening. To be precise, we should do more seeking, listening, and applying. For me, that includes documentation. Now, I have not always been a journaler. I probably have half-dozen journals that I diligently started and then after a couple weeks lost interest in. I used to think that I needed to chronicle every event of my life. And I would write in such a way so that if someone were ever to read my journal, I wouldn’t look bad. If I had to scratch out a word, it would all be ruined- because journals were supposed to be pretty. That all went out the window when we were between jobs, living in my mother’s basement with three kids, and didn’t know where or when we’d land. I was so filled with emotion- grief, fear, frustration, longing- that I needed to pour it all out to God in an honest (and not very pretty) manner. I marched over to Fred Meyer, bought the cheapest notebook I could find, and wrote out eight I-want-answers-and-this-has-all-been-bottled-up-too-long pages. There was such relief in casting all my cares on Him in writing. That was the beginning of a new way of hearing God’s voice in my life. I pour out my heart- with specific requests, grievances, questions, and words of thanks- and then open the Bible to see God’s response. Often, I turn to a passage that directly speaks to what I have just written. The answers and comfort are so concrete. God demonstrates regularly that His Word truly is living and active. I came up with some rules to ensure that my written conversations with God would be fruitful:
- It’s okay if things are messy. Double-spaced one day, single-spaced the next is acceptable. Typos, notes in the margins, and do-overs are all okay. I would save “pretty” for another book.
- There are no requirements about frequency. If I did five days in a row and then didn’t journal for two weeks, I wasn’t disqualified. It was the place where I sat face-to-face with God and I would get to it whenever I could.
- I would write like no one would ever read it. Laid bare. No masks. No foolin. I have found that it’s only when I come honestly and detailed that God really speaks. And yes, sometimes I am ugly.
- I would never just write and leave. I would seek God’s response so He had a chance to speak too. I often read until I felt that He had given me direction.
- If I felt God telling me to do something based on His Word, I would believe it and act on it no matter how uncomfortable. (I would also put a star next to the prescribed action-step so that I couldn’t rationalize-away the obedience later.)
Great edification has taken place in my life because of this journaling. Through writing detailed requests followed by reading with the intent to obey, God has given me specific answers and guidance on seemingly insignificant matters (like buying a couch), and directives for life-long decisions (such as adopting). God says that “If you seek Me you will find Me if you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) My prayer for 2013 is that you will seek God and find Him. That the doors of communication will fly open and you will converse with your Savior and Maker. I pray that you will see Him as He really is- the only Living God who wants to be known by you. I pray that you and I will never be more than a day away from something new that God has spoken or revealed to us. And that His children will be strikingly set apart as we engage the world He loves.