Dictionary.com describes journal as a noun, meaning, “a daily record, as of occurrences, experiences, or observations.” According to Online Etymology Dictionary, it also has roots in the Mid-14c. Anglo-French word jurnal, meaning “book of church services.”
I take lots of notes when listening to a speaker. Even though I feel a little guilty for defacing them, many books in my collection are full of highlighting, underlining and notes. As you can imagine, my Bible is a mess and getting messier all the time. I’ve always thought of journaling was similar to keeping a diary. That doesn’t really appeal to me – what’s the point of writing what will never be read? But lately I have been inspired to capture some things that are worth recording, things I want to remember.
We were in Calistoga for the weekend, attending (another) handball tournament. We had some time in the morning and took a walk through the local Farmer’s Market. One of the vendors was selling painted rocks that caught my eye because I occasionally enjoy painting, even rocks. I stopped to admire the rocks and he shared that they were “Spiritual Rocks.” He went on to say that he only uses smooth, symmetrical, pocket-sized rocks, and paints that glow in the dark for meditation extending to the evening. I thought of James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder” and Romans 10:3, “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” He seemed like a kind, sincere man and I wanted to ask what was “spiritual” about the rocks, and how they could possibly contribute to prayer or meditation, but couldn’t find words that didn’t sound like I was judging him.
Later that day I visited with Sharon, also a handball wife, as we watched our husbands compete. Talking about our day in Calistoga led to the Farmer’s Market. She shared that she too had held similar “New Age” spiritual beliefs but, in part due to a co-worker’s mentorship, had recently come to know the power and truth of the Bible and accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.
I went to sleep that night feeling like I’d missed an opportunity with the rock painter. I thought of Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” What could I have said to help him see the truth, to concede the futility of “Spiritual Rocks,” and know instead the truth of the gospel and power of God? I hoped to speak with Sharon again to ask what words had led her to the truth. It would be too late for making a difference with the rock painter, but next time I would be prepared.
When I spoke with her the next day, I asked Sharon what her mentor had said that opened her eyes. Her answer was simple, “Nothing… he just listened and prayed for me.”
It was too late for me to follow the strong urging of the Holy Spirit, so in prayer I asked God to reveal truth to this man. Sharon went on to tell me that in listening, her friend gently noted all the religious upbringing and experiences in her “hard drive”, and asked, “When you pray, do you pray to God or to Jesus Christ?”
So that’s where journaling comes in. God put two people in my life this weekend to humble and show me who holds the power to create change. He reminded me of the power in prayer. He taught me a lesson in obeying the urging of the Holy Spirit through the rock painter. I want to record how God works in my life, note the people he places along my path, and record the lessons. I want to increase my awareness of his presence in each day. If I ever find myself forgetting how big he is, I’ll only need to look back on my journal, my daily record of his miracles.