Around 10 years ago, I was in the market for a new bible. I’d had a pocket-sized HCSB, that I loved. It had a pretty cover, fit in my purse, and it had enough room in the margins for a few notes. However, I had recently been introduced to the ESV and I really liked that translation. I tried to find a version in the style and size of my HCSB, but couldn’t. It wasn’t long before I found the ESV journaling bible. It was great because it had large, lined margins for notes.
Then this year, I began working at a Christian bookstore. I noticed that journaling bibles had become a thing. They were everywhere. People were coming in in droves to buy them. Churches were having classes for them. We even had an event for it. I also learned that “journaling” in a bible, basically meant drawing and doodling in the margins – not what I’d been doing for the past 8 years.
I flipped through one of the books on journaling and dismissed it instantly as bunk. There were drawings over the words. It was no longer a bible but a doodle book. One of my co-workers who was running the event had brought her personal bible and was showing off her work. It was good, very pretty (and not over the words), but I still dismissed it as just a fad. Beautiful, but still a fad.
So, I went home that night, tired and weary with a headache. All I wanted to do was take a nap before we went to church. However, there were several things going on, so I decided to just take a few minutes and read over the Scripture that we were studying that night; it was only 2 verses, Colossians 1:1-2. As I read them, I thought about one of the journaling books I’d looked at. It gave instructions for journaling.
Step 1 was to read the verse and really think about what it says, looking for key words. As I read Colossians 1:2, key words jumped out at me. I saw what it would look like written on a page. So, I picked up a sketch pad (still not down for doodling in my bible) and began to write the verse out using some of the journaling techniques. Then I grabbed my colored pencils and began to think on the words and what colors they evoked.
It was kind of amazing. As I sat there and meditated on this verse, thinking about it and drawing it out, I began to feel energized and relaxed. By the time I was done, my headache was gone and I was excited to go to church and study this verse that was now so vibrant in my mind.
Like with most things, I think there are good and bad aspects. I know that there are those out there that express themselves artistically. The journaling pages with images evoked from Scripture are amazing. They just aren’t for me. At the end of the day, my bible is for reading and study and I don’t like anything that may mask that. I also like having my margins for notes and references.
However, journaling Scripture that you are studying has an amazing meditative quality to it. It is wonderfully therapeutic. I may not do it regularly or do one of the journaling challenges that are floating arounds, but I love the idea of using it as a devotional or study tool.
What about you? Where do you land on bible journaling?