The Joy of Journaling

By Mary Nell Beck

The phone rang at the parsonage on a Tuesday afternoon. The lady who was to bring the devotional that night at our WNAC meeting had gotten sick, and so the president of our group called the preacher’s wife. “Yes, I’ll fill in,” I said.

This basic story has had many variations in my life as a pastor’s wife, but the essence of the story line is always the same: the preacher’s wife is a good last-minute replacement for devotions. This is the usual condition under which I deliver a devotional.

Please understand, I am far from complaining, because last minute fill-ins don’t have to have well-organized, well-prepared devotionals. It is a wonderful crutch for my meandering thoughts.

Keep a Devotional Journal

Now where am I going with this idea? Here is what I want to say: Keep a daily devotional journal. It is a tool I wish I had discovered years ago. I make lists that I find in God’s Word. I outline my understanding of passages that have spoken to me. I list verses I need to memorize. I write down other verses I remember on the same subject.

There’s more….I note prayers that the Word inspires me to pray. I put in writing the painful glimpses in the mirror that reflect mud on my face. I make a record of answered prayer, of unanswered questions, of inner struggles. I think you understand. I record my walk with God. So when the phone rings on a Tuesday afternoon and I agree to speak Tuesday night, I go straight to my journal for something God has graciously taught me.

Remember the Lessons

To be more articulate in what I would share with other Free Will Baptist pastors’ wives, a devotional journal is handy for more reasons than preparing a last-minute devotional. It is a ready source for remembering what God has done for me and taught me. This is a major help for a senior citizen like me. Sometimes I think when re-reading, “Did I write that? I don’t even remember thinking it.”

What a student God has in me! I have to keep reviewing the same material.

Here is something else. There is great delight when I hear the nougats of truth God has given me shared with our entire congregation. Often as Terry (my husband) and I sit reading in the mornings, he or I will say, “Listen to this,” and we’ll share a thought from the Bible. Many times Terry has asked me to write down for him the verses and thoughts from my journal, and then I hear them woven into a sermon the next Sunday or Wednesday.

Influence the Future

One more perk for recording your daily visits with God has to do with your family. I love my God and Savior Jesus Christ, and I want my great-great grandchildren to know that. So when I can’t be around to tell them, maybe they will find Granny’s devotional journal, and my hand can stretch across the ages and help lead them to God.

My encouragement to all of us ladies is to leave Martha alone in the kitchen once a day. Go sit with Mary at Jesus’ feet and take notes. They make wonderful “instant devotionals” (Just add the water of last-minute necessity); they help us remember God’s workings in our lives (You will eventually have senior moments, if not already); they can be useful to your husband/pastor, and they can be a testimony to your descendants.

The Bible doesn’t tell us, but Mary may have had a pen and scroll with her as the roast cooked and she sat listening to Jesus speak.

About the Writer: Mary Nell Beck and her husband Terry pastor in Virginia. She is an alumnus of Free Will Baptist Bible College and a graduate of Bob Jones University. The Becks have four children. Mary Nell is the only daughter of the late Dr. L. C. Johnson, first president of Free Will Baptist Bible College.