How did you become best friends with your best friend?
- Did you study her LinkedIn profile and take notes?
- Did you stalk her on social media to figure out who she was by her posts?
- Did you go to discussion meetings about her with other people to dissect what those posts really meant?
Of course not.
You became best friends with your best friend by hanging out with her. You listened and you talked. You shared your dreams and thoughts with each other. You shared your foibles and fumbles. You laughed together. You cried together. You joined in fun activities one or both of you enjoyed.
We get to know someone by spending time with them.
Why do we think it’s so different when it comes to getting to know Jesus?
We can hang out with Jesus. Yes, it’s a bit different because we cannot see him. But he speaks—through his Word, through his Spirit within our spirits.
It’s easy to slip into studying Jesus like you would a school subject or a bug. Don’t get me wrong; I love Bible study. But if we forget that there is a person behind the words, a person to know and love, we forget the point of the Scriptures. God wants a relationship with you, not a robot that can only parrot back facts about him.
I love memorizing Scripture. The verses I memorized as a child return to my mind, not so I can win a prize but so that I can be reminded of God’s heart for me wherever I am, Bible in hand or not.
The goal is to know the person behind the book.
Journaling can help us build our relationship with God. Whether we use words or art or music—as we bring our senses into the process—we take the time to just be with God. We take the time to listen to his heart. We express back to him our thoughts, our fears, our struggles.
Pick a passage of Scripture. I recommend a narrative in the life of Jesus or one of the Psalms as good starting places. Read it several times slowly. Read it out loud—or listen to it being read via YouVersion on your phone.
Try putting yourself directly into the story as one of the characters or a bystander: What are you seeing? What do you smell? Are you tasting anything? What sounds break through? What objects are in the narrative that you would be touching? Let your senses make it real.
Now pick your media—paper, paints, markers, a musical instrument, dance—and listen to the passage again. Write, draw, play, move to the words. Don’t self-edit! Don’t worry about the results. This is about hanging out with God. Let him speak to you.
It’s easy to want a “result,” an action point for you to pursue as a disciple. That’s not the point. You don’t spend time with your friends only to get some actionable idea. It might happen. They might say something that sparks an idea you can’t wait to pursue. But it’s not why you hang out. Trust that if God wants you to make a change in your life from your time together, he will make that clear. Instead, concentrate on enjoying his presence.
Want to come try out some journaling techniques with others?
September 21 I’ll be in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, teaching “Journaling the Bible: Meeting God in New Ways,” sponsored by The Connection, a nondenominational ministry. If you live in central Pennsylvania or Maryland, join us!