On paper it was a simple mission. I set off for the supermarket this morning in need of one particular grocery item. “Shall I write it down for you?” asked Marianne. “No!” I cried; I will remember that.
I’d no sooner sanitised my hands, donned the mask, cleaned the basket and entered the store when I spotted some multipack Kettle fried crisps on special. Then there was the Copella Cloudy apple juice on discount for club card holders (and no I’m not getting paid for subtle product placement here). The bargains kept coming thick and fast. Chocolate chip hobnobs at half price. Two-for-one on golden crunch creams. A Mexican style salad kit reduced! I had to avoid the dessert aisle altogether as I didn’t have any blinkers to hand.
I eventually prevailed over the self-service checkout that kept insisting I remove a phantom item from the packing area and was halfway home when I suddenly remembered that I’d forgotten the one thing I went for. My heart sank at the thought of turning back to run the gauntlet once again.
I should have taken Marianne’s advice! I should have written it down. It’s not that I have a bad memory – but it’s so easy to get distracted. I’m sure there’ll be many out there who will identify with my experience – been there, done that, I hear you say. But the moral of the story is that it really does help to write things down, and it brings me neatly to the third and final thing I wanted to say about the disciplines I’ve discovered that have helped me enter into intimacy with God and to abide in His presence.
In Exodus 17:14 God said to Moses “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered…”; and to Isaiah in 30:8 “Write it on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever”; and in Habakkuk 2:2 God says to the prophet “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” In fact, God was forever telling people to write things down! He obviously knew how easily we get distracted and forget.
I’ve practiced “journaling” for years and have discovered it to be an indispensable discipline in the pursuit of the presence of God. “Easy for you”, people say to me, “you used to be a journalist. Me? I’m useless at writing things down”. Be that as it may, journaling is, I believe, a fantastic aid to nurturing the presence of God in your life and consolidating what He’s saying to you. It is definitely a lost art that needs to be rediscovered and cultivated if you want to get more out of your relationship with the Lord.
If you’re investing in intimacy with God - meditating on His Word and entwining your heart with His – then the sensible thing to do is write down in a diary what you’re hearing, make a note of the “light-bulb” moments when the Holy Spirit joins the dots of Scripture and takes the things of Jesus and shows them to you (John 16:15).
You don’t have to be a Tolkien or a Tozer – you don’t have to produce Hansard reports – you don’t have to fill the letters page of The Times or The Telegraph. Just jot down the date and make a simple note of any stand-out revelations the Spirit whispers to your soul as you wait on the Lord.
I’ve found three things happen when I journal.
So even if you’re not a fan of writing things down, try it! You won’t be disappointed. If nothing else, you can always write out the verse you’re thinking about, perhaps re-phrasing it in your own way. I used to use “el cheapo” spiral bound notebooks from the local stationers, but my daughter Danielle gave me a beautiful leather-bound journal at the start of my sabbatical last year which I have now filled with treasure! Whether you write reams or one-liners or use scrappy notebooks or leather-bound volumes – journaling is a discipline that will lead to a rich harvest in your pursuit of the presence of God.
A blog by Pastor Brendan munro
Welcome to my blog - thank you for stopping by! I’ve never done this before and I’m only doing it now after friends encouraged me to share more widely of the life-changing journey I’ve been on with God over the past couple of years.