I am delighted to hear that you have bought a journal and have started to write. In this letter I am going to look at the second reason for writing a journal, which is to chart the journey.
As we journey through life we make plans, decisions and choices all of which have an impact on us and on those around us. Sometimes we are aware of the impact and at other times the impact is less obvious or unseen, but either way it is there and it shapes our behaviour and responses.
Life does not always turn out as we anticipate or plan and there are seasons of relative peace and calm and seasons where we enter choppy waters and the waves seem to overwhelm us. How we respond to these changing seasons and what we learn from them, is key to our personal growth and development.
Writing a journal, as we journey through life, enables us to chart the way and direction that we are travelling in. For this reason it is important to date the entries in our journal, so that we can look back and see more clearly how, over time, we have arrived at where we are today.
It is helpful to see how our inner journey relates to our outer journey within the framework of time and space. While we intend to write regularly, there are times, when for whatever reason this is not feasible, and so dating entries helps us know how long it actually is since we last stopped to reflect and record events.
This was really highlighted for me, the year my health suddenly collapsed. Looking back over the events and encounters with God during the summer of 2009, as recorded in my journal, I could clearly see how God had prepared and equipped me for what was to come. One of the last entries in my journal recorded a number of verses and pictures that people had given me concerning rest. It was a very busy season at work and I could not see how I was going to have time for extra rest!
With hindsight, I regret not being able to chart the journey through illness, but at the time it was a mission just to keep breathing! A retreat a year later gave me the opportunity to record what I could remember and to reflect on God’s amazing provision for me during that challenging season.
While charting the journey in general terms is important, I have found it to be especially relevant when considering specific decisions. Charting the decision making process has provided insight and wisdom, not only for the decision in question but has provided encouragement and motivation in making future decisions.
What happens if we do not take the time to chart the journey? Well, life goes on! But we miss out on the understanding and knowledge, we could have gained by taking time to reflect and our relationship with God does not deepen in the same way.
By not charting the journey, we are at risk of failing to remember some of the amazing ways we have seen God act in our lives and in the lives of those around us. When we record these, we can look back at them in challenging times and remember how God acted in the past and be encouraged to hope and believe he will do so again.
In the next letter we will look at the third reason for writing a journal:
To log the changes
Keep writing and keep running the race marked out for you!