By WILLIAM MORRIS
A time for quiet: Life lessons through journaling
In this world we are living in today, there is so much uncertainty and fear. For many of us, it creates insecurity beyond anything we have experienced thus far.
We not only have been dealing with the physicality of the coronavirus threat, but many have their jobs at risk. We have been separated from our friends and loved ones. We have not been able to go to the places that are part of our normal lives, whether it be a gymnasium, a restaurant, a movie, a sports event, or our churches. Virtual church service is just not the same. Contemplating this, I thought about how much my journaling means to me.
It was November 1, 1983, when I began writing my love letter to the Lord. For years I had heard various people, whom I respected and admired for their faith, speak about their journals. The seeds planted began to germinate, and I could no longer sit idly. My experiences had to be expressed in writing. So I began my journey, which is now halfway through the 37th year. It is a priceless treasure chronicling the enormous blessings our Heavenly Father has given me. The passages inscribed in my journal, now totaling approximately 3,000 legal pages, are the most valuable asset I will leave my children and grandchildren. They will see teardrop stains on some pages where I vicariously experienced their ups and downs of growing up.
I never had any instruction on how to journal. Although I have since read pamphlets and a few essays about the process, they only validated what I felt in my heart. There is no wrong way of doing it, for it is your own personal experience with the Lord.
My day begins with preparing a pot of coffee and settling in my den to read God’s Word. When I have sufficiently read and digested the appointed scripture, I put that aside and pick up other Christian study materials I have been led to read. It could be a devotional book like “Jesus Calling,” or something by C.S. Lewis, William Barclay, or a prayer warrior who is giving of their heart and soul.
At this point, I pick up my journal and try to focus on the things for which I am thankful. So far as I can tell, my deepest source of joy is when I feel the most grateful. Sometimes it is praising the Lord for a good night’s rest and for the beautiful day breaking before us. As I continue to write, I begin to reflect on the experiences of the prior day. It may be regarding someone I’ve spoken with. It may be something that I feel I need God’s wisdom on. Many times I’ll hear that still, small voice say, “Bill, have you thought about asking Me to help?” As the journal continues, I may write about the latest book I just finished, or a trip I am planning with my family, or a meal shared with friends. All of this gives context and meaning to the spiritual side of the journal entry.
Every January, I pick up my journal and review the prior year’s experiences. The Father’s hand is always evident, even in the challenging times, and I see how many prayers He answered. I read my thoughts about the many friends who have left their earthly existence during this time, which always causes me to reflect on my own mortality. This annual process of contemplation and reflection is a reminder and an assurance that every day is a gift.
Because of the magnitude of what I have experienced in my walk with the Lord since beginning my journaling, I have a passion for telling others in hopes that they will pick up pen and paper and do likewise.
More knowledge of the Lord is wonderful and essential in our walk, but the Lord wants more than that. He wants the relationship. He wants that fellowship, which is expressed in the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”:
“All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer …
I do not know of a better way to take it to the Lord in prayer than to write Him a love note. You can almost physically feel the problems being taken off of your shoulders when you do just that.
God’s peace, grace and blessings to you all.
Jacksonian William Morris is founder and president of the William Morris Group and author of “This Magic Moment: My Journey of Faith, Friends and the Father’s Love” (Fitting Words, 2019).