Journaling with Marlene

by Marlene Mills

I remember, as a child, that my mother always kept a diary. Every now and then
someone would say, "It's never been this hot in October!" and my mom would pull out her diary, flip a few pages, and say, "Yes, it has. It was 83 degrees on the 17th of October, 1953."

I decided to keep a diary too, only now they call it a journal, or journaling. One day, as I was reading Psalm 119 and discovered the verse, "Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law." It spoke to me so deeply that I decided then and there that I would open each day's journal entry with a wondrous thing from God's word.

The beauty of the process is that God never fails to show me that, "Aha!" passage or verse that makes me say to myself, "That's really good." I never have to worry about having the material to start each day's entry as long as I start with the word of God.

I also decided to write each of those wondrous things from the Bible in red ink. This keeps the passage separate from the weather, what I did each day, and other important events. It also makes it stand out on the page and gives it importance. I guess you could call it my "red letter" journal. Sometimes I will go back and reread these wondrous things and experience that "wow" all over again.

You may think all Christians start their day reading God's word. You may also think all Christians follow the example of the Psalmist [this is an example, but there is no such command] to meditate all day on the word of God (Psalm 119:97). Unfortunately, that's not the case.

During the years that my husband and I did marriage counseling for Christian couples the number one common denominator was that one of the couple, if not both, did not start their day in the word of God. Not only would they not start their day reading the Bible, it was very seldom that either of the couple would take time during the day to read the Word either.

For many years I taught a ladies' Bible study. One class I taught was on the bread from heaven, or the manna (Exod 16). It's interesting that in Deut 8:3, Moses compares the manna to God's word: "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." I believe we can learn about our Bible study habits from the story about the manna.

Just like the Israelites were to gather enough manna to eat for the day, we should also "gather" a certain quota of God's word every day. And just as the Israelites were to gather the manna in the morning, before the sun burned it away, we should turn to God's word in the morning before the worries and concerns of the day "burn up" our chances of learning from the Bible. Notice that God didn't say, "Gather up as much as you can on Monday so you don't have to spend every morning getting just enough for the day ahead." The same is true for reading God's word. You can't wake up on Monday morning and read a week's worth of Bible passages to get you through to the next Monday. If we did that, we wouldn't be able to remember all that we had read. We also would have way too much to meditate on and, by Tuesday or Wednesday, the cares of the world will have burned up all the surplus reading.

Of course, there are always excuses as to why we can't read the Bible every morning: "No time." "Have to get to work." "I want to get up earlier, but I need my sleep." "I'll just do it this evening." Are there any I missed?

In answer to all those excuses I like to tell a story I once heard about Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990. It goes something like this, every morning, at five o'clock, the BBC would broadcast the news and every morning Margaret Thatcher's number one priority was to listen to that broadcast. It didn't matter how much sleep she had gotten the night before, how busy she was with her responsibilities, or if she was sick; she was by the radio every morning to hear what was going on in her country. I don't ever recall this woman being ashamed for not knowing the state of the nation.

I often ask the women in my Bible study if they have as many responsibilities as the Prime Minister of England. Do you? We, just like the Israelites, have daily opportunities to gather, to be choice, and to earn eternal rewards when we stand before our Lord.

When we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, what excuse will we have for not gathering the manna?