When is Bible Journaling something you should consider (or continue)? And when should you avoid Bible Journaling?
Let's take a look at Sally and Jane.
Sally is struggling to find the time and energy to practice the spiritual disciplines that she knows are important. She is embarrassed to admit that she is bored when she sits down to pray or read her Bible, and she often doesn’t even understand what she is reading. She itches for more and feels like she’s on the Christian JV team because she doesn’t get as much out of popular Bible Study books as other women around her seem to.
Sally may want to consider Bible Journaling.
Jane has been in a good routine of consistent Bible Study and prayer recently. She has a system in place, schedules her time and can tell that her faith is growing. But Jane has been watching her Instagram feed light up with excited women expressing their creativity through Bible Journaling. She wants to continue to grow, so she decides to try this as well. The problem is that now she’s a bit stressed about what to create when she sits down, she feels like her art isn’t worthy of posting on Social Media and her scheduled Quiet Time is now about 80% filled with creating art.
Jane may want to avoid Bible Journaling for now.
Bible Journaling. What exactly is it? And should you be doing it?
I’m so glad you asked!
I suspect that you have at least heard of Bible Journaling. It’s quite the rage right now. And it can be an incredible way to dig into the Word of God. However, there may be some things for you to consider if you are a Bible Journaler… or a Bible Journaler wannabe. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s back up.
What is Bible Journaling?
Bible Journaling put simply is when you use your creativity in your study of God's Word.
One of the most timeless ways this is done is through written journaling, either in your Bible or in a notebook. This discipline can be extremely helpful in memorizing, learning and understanding the truth God gives us through His Word. It typically involves writing out scripture, prayers, other references, or thoughts on the text you are studying.
Because I’m a pen and paper gal, I love this kind of journaling and you can find half-filled notebooks of all varieties, as well as my favorite yellow legal pads, all over my home.
More recently, if you search for “Bible Journaling” on Pinterest, you will find a whole new level of creativity. In many circles, this term has come to mean a more artistic expression of worship. It often includes hand lettering, drawing, painting, paper crafting, digital Bible Journaling and more. Bible Journaling can be simple or very complicated. It can be quite intimidating for some and it can open up a whole new way to learn God’s precepts for others.
I could lay out many practical tips about how you can do this, but at its core, Bible Journaling starts and ends with the Word of God and throws other fun stuff in to facilitate the study of that beautiful Word.
When can Bible Journaling be beneficial to you?
When you looking for fresh ways to study the Bible.
You are creative. Yes, whether you think of yourself that way or not, you were created in the image of the ultimate Creator (Genesis 1:26) and by your very nature, you find joy in making something whole from random parts. This may be cooking from a recipe card, arranging art on your walls or putting together that super cute outfit for your little one.
Taking the words and truths from the Bible and transforming them into art is no different. It can be fun and it can bring joy.
If you have struggled with consistency in your Bible Study or prayer life, changing things up can often help. Bible Journaling is an outlet you may find truly valuable. Anything that causes you to look forward to time digging into the Word is a good thing.
Oh, and spoiler alert… regardless of HOW you choose to study the Bible, once you start, you will gain a desire for more of His Word. It’s really super cool!
When you need to slow down and take in the Truth of the Gospel more deliberately.
Bible Journaling slows me down when I study. I love this part of it. It offers an excuse to stop and contemplate on a particular verse or passage. As I am writing the scripture or doodling a representation of it, I can narrow in and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I too often rush through my reading and miss what God wants me to hear from Him in that moment.
Maybe I'm the only one…
If not, creative expression can be a great way to keep your focus.
When you want a different way to study with others.
One of the cool things about Bible Journaling is that it's great to do with others. Bible Journaling can give some structure to a gathering of women and provide a medium to share with one another what you are learning in the Word. And as a bonus, it’s a fantastic way to get women who are not normally comfortable with Bible Study to explore God’s Word!
It’s also great to share with your kids! There are few better ways to spend quality time with your children than creating a “masterpiece” representing a characteristic of God, a truth of His Word, or the promise of victory won!
There are plenty of other advantages to Bible Journaling that I could share. And there are tons of practical tips I could give. But I want to take a minute to reflect on something that many avid Journalers overlook… the warning signs that Bible Journaling may be doing more harm to your spiritual growth than good.
When should you AVOID Bible Journaling?
When it becomes a discouragement.
Do you look at the pretty art on Instagram and feel inadequate? You may need to stop.
Are you frequently disappointed in the outcome of your creative strivings? You may need to stop.
Do you avoid pages in your Bible because the color you enthusiastically lavished on the page makes you cringe? You may need to stop.
This is a trap I can fall into. Because I was not given a vast supply of natural talent in this area, my finished work is usually best kept to myself. I LOVE color, don’t get me wrong… my website is named Grace in Color, after all. But you will NOT see most of my creations on my Pinterest Boards or Instagram Feed. Mainly because I would fight discouragement and the comparison game if I did post them. And I know that wouldn't be good for my soul.
Although, now that I think about it, posting them may actually be an encouragement to you. And if you are Southern, you would give me a big ole sigh of “Bless her heart”.
When it becomes your focus.
Is more time spent deciding what to draw than contemplating what the passage of scripture says? You may need to stop.
Do you breeze past your reading to get to the art? You may need to stop.
Do you feel more pride in your art than you do about God’s glory? Stop. Stop. Just stop.
This should go without saying but I’ve seen it become an issue too many times to gloss over. John Calvin said “The human heart is an Idol Factory” and Bible Journaling, like anything else, can easily become an idol in our lives.
When this happens it takes the glory away from the God of our Salvation.
Beware of this pitfall.
When it prevents deeper study.
Do you frequently avoid reading surrounding verses and chapters in favor of beautifully lettering one verse in particular? You may need to stop.
Are you satisfied with artistically expressing a single passage when you still don’t understand how it fits into the narrative of Scripture? You may need to stop.
Do you find that you don’t have time to dig deeper because you are spending that time with your art or journaling? You may need to stop.
You know this. I know this. Our time is limited and precious. It’s so important to prioritize our time with God and the moment you find that anything… Bible Journaling, music, writing, fellowship… consistently prevents you from growth and deep study of the Word, it’s time to reconsider it.
Does that mean to pack up your pens, turn off your playlist or never gather with chatty women?
NO, of course not!
But it does mean to find an appropriate time and place for those things with the goal of keeping your focus on the Gospel.
These lists above are not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination, but they are interesting to ponder.
Remember Sally and Jane from above?
There are traces of both of them in you. And in me. We will see some of these ladies in ourselves at different times in our lives. And recognizing it will bring growth.
God gave us art. (Colossians 1:16) God certainly created us to create. I fully believe that. But as with ALL things, we must do it for His glory. We should never attempt to steal his glory.
He is the one who sent His only son to live a perfect life that we could not live and die a terrible death that we completely deserved. And if we trust in His work on the cross, we can exchange our sin for His righteousness! How amazing. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
We have been extended this most marvelous grace and our whole lives should reflect that.
Be encouraged today. Try something new and creative! Keep coloring for the Lord. But only if it brings glory to the only One who deserves it.
And of the 10 Creative Ways to Study the Bible that can be found in this FREE CHALLENGE, Bible Journaling is only one… explore them all! As long as in doing so, you are glorifying God.