Friday, August 6, 2010

The Power of a Testimony, and the Power of Journaling

6 August 2010

The Power of a Testimony, and the Power of Journaling

There is power in a testimony, power to change, power to overcome, as it says in Revelation 12:11.

A few days ago I was encouraged by reading a biography of J. Hudson Taylor, a testimony of what the Lord God could and did do through one man. This is just one example of so many that illustrate the grace and mercy of the Lord God over the years. We have 20 centuries full of godly accounts (testimonies) that demonstrate the grace and mercy of our Father God.

We also hear of the wonderful miraculous things the Lord God is doing these days all over the world. It sounds like our God has kicked it up a notch or two. Jesus came to destroy all the works of the devil (First John 3:8), and it looks like He's doing this with great fervor.

These are all very encouraging, but the testimonies that should be most precious to us are:
(1) the Word of God, the Bible
(2) our own testimony - what the Lord God has done and is doing with us, to us, for us, personally.

But, alas, we forget! Forgetting just seems to be what people do:
(1) when they have hard hearts, or
(2) when they don't write things down.

(1) With hard hearts, what is written in the parable of the sower comes into play, "the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside." Matthew 13:19. Pray for a soft heart.

(2) Psalm 106 recalls the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt.
v 7. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the sea--the Red Sea.

But they were delivered anyway.
v 11. The waters covered their enemies; there was not one of them left.
v 12. Then they believed His words; they sang His praise.
v 13. They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel,
v 14. But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert.

All of this forgetting happened in three days! Hard hearts? Maybe. Probably.

What to do? Yes, write it down. Write down what the Lord God is doing for you and what He is saying to you, and what He is showing you.

Write it all down in chronological order. And remember, this is not supposed to be a chore. You are free. You don't have to make an entry everyday if there is nothing to write on certain days. But when something comes, you want a procedure to be in place so you can quickly and easily capture the gem that just came to you, while you are still excited by what the Lord God just showed you, or said to you, or did for you.

If you use paper, write your journal in a bound volume, not just on scraps of paper that end up as bookmarks in your Bible. And when you fill the first volume of your journal, buy a second similar volume and start writing in the second one.

If you use an electronic device you will have the ability to search, sort, and edit. If this is your choice, choose a device that can travel with you (a laptop or netbook or tablet, not a desktop), since you really need that flexibility to write consistently. It's your choice as to whether you eventually want to have one enormous file, or whether you think there is value in a periodic (maybe yearly) restart. I prefer one big enormous file, since searching is easier with just one file. And be sure to back up your journal file(s) frequently!

Note: A friend of mine recently shared that he finds the use of a paper journal allows for more focus than an online journal, since there is so much out there, almost instantly available, when we are online.

You might not see much value in the journal for the first few days or weeks or even the first few months, but sooner or later you will be able to go back and find golden nuggets of encouragement that will let you know that the Lord has been speaking to you, and will continue to speak to you, and will continue to be with you, and continue to save you, and will never abandon you. This will be especially valuable if you are down.

Why journal? To build faith - and to see your heart soften.

It's never too late to start.