Peeking into a Journal

I am sitting in a room just off our kitchen.  It is the closest we have to an office in our house.  There is not much in this room.  A desk.  Another table.  A printer for the computer.  A book shelf.


On the second shelf are eight special books.  Most of these are black.   There are a variety of books on the other shelves, but these eight books stand out to me.  These books are some of my journals.  I don’t have them on the second shelf of this bookcase for any particular reason.  A few years ago, there were two or three of these books and the number has gradually grown.


There are actually many others journals which I have written through the years.  These have been stored away in boxes, old briefcases, etc.
I began keeping these journals many years ago.  I’m not sure why I started. 


I probably write in my journal three to four times a week.  I write my thoughts.  I make observations.  I attempt to express feelings.  Sometimes, I will describe an encouraging conversation or reading.


A few moments ago, I stopped writing this post and took all eight off the shelf.  I began looking through a few of them.  I read some of the entries.

  • I read about a conversation I had with a friend–an older, former minister who at lunch reflected with me on what he might do if he were preaching again.
  • I read an entry in which I described the discouragement I felt at the time over my work and several frustrations at our church.
  • I read a post which was written from a coffee shop in Vancouver, just down the street from Regent College.  I could actually remember the morning when I wrote that post.  I was at a conference and spent the first few hours of the day reading and writing in this journal.


These journals are full of the ordinary.  They are full of circumstances and situations.  Like John Baillie, I pray God will be at work in each situation in my life regardless of how special or how ordinary it seems.


The following is an excerpt from John Baillie’s A Diary of Private Prayer.


Teach me, O God so to use all the circumstances of my life today that they may bring forth in me the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin.

  • Let me use disappointment as material for patience.
  • Let me use success as material for thankfulness.
  • Let me use suspense as material for perseverance.
  • Let me use danger as material for courage.
  • Let me use reproach as material for long suffering.
  • Let me use praise as material for humility.
  • Let me use pleasures as material for temperance.
  • Let me use pain as material for endurance.

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3 thoughts on “Peeking into a Journal

  1. I’m guessing Jim, that all this wisdom you share with us on this blog is, in part, due to all your journaling through the years. I’ve noticed that writing things down, even if I don’t look at what I wrote down, does seem to put a truth or thought into me, that can be taken out at a proper time (though in my case, I’ve written down far less than you).

    And wow. The things that are there. Even the struggles. How we see God has worked. Like seeing us at one point, than much further down the road, removed from that.

    Thanks too, for sharing from John Baillie’s diary. Great words!

  2. Ted,
    You express this so well. At times I am amazed at what I write in my journal. Amazed only because I really didn’t realize I was thinking these thoughts. Somehow, the act of writing these things down brings clarity.

    Thanks Ted.