The Joy of Journaling

Deborah Sybil   |   January 31, 2024 

I love the month of December. I love the lights and the decoration. Every house is filled with laughter and music. The aroma of cakes and cookies fills the air. Festive activities and get-togethers engage us throughout the month. Family and friends are visited or invited over. Outreach programs, Christmas cantatas, caroling, Sunday school specials, ladies' meetings – ah! Such a busy month December is!

Amidst all this busyness, there is one thing that I enjoy doing in December. In fact, I look forward to it as much as I do to the other activities of the festive season. And that is reading my yearly journal. Every year, during the last few days of December, I read my journal entries starting from January 1st. And I absolutely love doing this because, in those few days, I relive the entire year. Reminiscing some precious memories, laughing over some hilarious entries, recalling the anger and pain I felt on certain days. This process of reading through the journal is relaxing, comforting, and encouraging. It is comforting to see how God has been with me through all those times this year, and it is encouraging to note that God will continue to be with me during the trials I will face in the coming year.

Needless to say, if I am reading the journal in December, I am also writing it through the year. I was 12 or 13 years old when I started writing a diary. That was a time when my entries were all about what happened each day of my life. A few years later, when the value of daily Bible reading made an impression on my young mind, the nature of my entries changed. I started writing down one verse from the passage of scripture I had read that day that spoke to me the most. Slowly, there were more scripture entries in my diary. A couple of years later, I started following the New Testament Commentary by William Barclay for my Bible studies. During this time, my daily diary entries were filled with new learnings; even the margins and the sides of my diary pages were not spared. That is when I picked up the habit of Bible journaling, and I have cherished it since then.

Now, my journal entries have a mixture of scripture, new learnings from scripture, reinforcement of old learnings, daily events of life (some routine, some special), prayers and sometimes worship, personal hopes and wishes, or anything else I want to tell the Lord. Bible journaling serves as a:

  • Record of our spiritual journey – I write in my journal any new thing the Holy Spirit reveals during my personal bible study and meditation. There are days when God reassures me of His sovereignty, and there are days when He reminds me of a certain warning. Every December, reading through my journal, I recognise how much I have grown and matured in the course of that year.
  • Record of God’s work in our life – It's a joy to record every blessing we receive from God. Blessings in the form of healing, a new milestone, success at work, a new project, settlement of a misunderstanding, restoration of a relationship, a fresh opportunity – all of this is God’s work in our lives, and I want to give God the glory while I record them in my journal. Reading through my journal entries, I realize how, many times, I had panicked and worried over trivial matters when, in due course of time, I could see God working in all those matters.
  • Record of our life - There are some events that I remember only after I read them in my journal, especially about my children. All the hue and cry over a silly thing my older one had said to the younger one, the huge crush my younger one had on his classmate (he was six then), weeks of discussion over choosing between skating and taekwondo at school, the older one’s argument against darkness in space – all documented in my precious journals. I have my journals of the last decade stored with me, which I read from time to time. They always bring a smile to my face.

Here are some tips for you if you are considering Bible journaling:

  1. Set apart a time – I suppose this is by far the most difficult thing. The best is to spend 5-10 extra minutes during your personal Bible study time to write the journal.
  2. Choose a suitable place – choose that corner of the house where you would be least distracted or disturbed. I love my balcony for this. Also because, from my balcony, I can see God’s creation – the trees and the sky and birds, sun or the moon and stars – and worship flows from my mouth on its own here making it easier to document it.
  3. Choose a journal/diary with dates – this helps you be regular in Bible journaling. Some people use their Bible itself for this – go ahead if you like it.
  4. Keep it simple – Do not start with categories, divisions, or lengthy writings. You may not be able to keep up with it. Keep your content simple. Start maybe with one verse and your learning from it, and slowly progress as the Holy Spirit leads you.
  5. Be creative in your writing (if you are creative) – Meditate on the verse/passage and use your creativity to represent it in your own God-gifted way. Note down the keywords from the passage and create a song. Create a drawing or doodle art for a particular passage.
  6. Read your journal from time to time – this helps you revise your learnings and appreciate your spiritual growth.

I encourage you to begin journaling this year. You might be pleasantly surprised by the depths and truths you glean, and you will draw closer to the Lord through it.



Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash

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Deborah Sybil

Deborah loves reading, enjoys cooking and is ready with book/restaurant suggestions for all who ask. She likes travelling and interacting with almost anyone she meets. Nothing interests her as much as the riches of God's word and His work in the present times. She is a professor of Oral Surgery by vocation and lives in Delhi with her husband, Augustine and two adorable sons, Caleb and Bryan.

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