Sophomore year of college, my roommate and I trained ourselves to get up at 6am every morning to spend time with Jesus (I’ve talked about this one a couple of times). When I started student teaching, I rolled that time back to 5am. These early mornings were so precious and foundational to me. But about a year ago, I stopped wanting to spend time in the Scriptures. Suddenly my magical routine wasn’t working anymore. With no warning, God went silent.
I think we all experience times like these, times when Jesus just isn’t speaking loudly. Maybe He’s whispering and we just can’t hear it, but the shock of feeling wrapped up in His embrace each morning to no longer hearing his voice is a hard punch to bear. I feel like Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia; Aslan is here right beside me, and then I turn around and He’s gone again with no promise of when He will return. He’s there, but He isn’t. He’s with us, but we’re alone.
But Aslan is always on the move, and Jesus is always good. He is alive and active, working in our lives and walking beside us each step of the way. His presence in our lives looks different in each season, but in each season, He is there.
In the past year, I’ve come to learn one thing. Jesus is the same, today and forever, and yet in each season He is revealing to us new facets of His grace. In each season, I encounter a new side of Him. In each season, He calls me to something new, to something a little higher and a little harder. He challenges my routine and calls me to follow where He is leading.
All of this to say, my college routine wasn’t working anymore, and Jesus wanted me to meet Him somewhere else. In this new season of life, He has led me into the most beautiful dance with Him. I’m back to my 5am mornings, but they are no longer stale and barren; they have been transformed into a rich and colorful time of drawing near to my Jesus once again. Who would have thought a little bit of paint could change so much?
I put away the devotionals and invested in a journaling Bible and watercolor pens. Setting aside the commentary and focusing on the Word alone, rhythmically reflecting on sometimes just one verse, has changed everything. Aslan is back.
And then—oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him. … “Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
… “Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” -CS Lewis, Prince Caspian
I have found this method of Bible journaling and coloring so effective, so I want to share the practicalities of it with you. Here’s what it has looked like for me while going through Ephesians this week:
Sometimes I really do focus on just a few words. Ephesians 1-3 are all about unity and grace, and then you get to Ephesians 4-6, where there are subtitles like, “instructions for Christian living.” For a girl who has hated following rules since the day she could say, “no,” this is a tough section for me to get excited about. But within these chapters, Paul says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.” (Ephesians 5:1), and this verse spoke so much to me that I ended up focusing on the idea of what it means to live and respond to instruction as a dearly loved child. Those four words were so powerful.
The single column and wide margins of this journaling Bible make it so perfect for writing and reflecting. As much as I love the marked up, falling apart Bible I have had for years, it has been surprisingly powerful to have a new Bible with fresh pages. It has really allowed me to read the same passages with new eyes and an open heart. Here’s another example from John of how great these margins are:
As always, everything I buy is straight from Amazon. Here’s the shopping list for all of the tools I’ve been using and loving:
If you’ve never used the Amazon mobile app before, download the app and use the code ERIN12599N at check out to save $5! And while I’m sending you Amazon links, I might as well throw The Chronicles of Narnia onto this list for those of you who are still waiting to step through the wardrobe.
Think you might try Bible journaling? I would love to hear about it! Leave a comment or send me an email. There are some pretty cool online communities of women practicing Bible journaling as well, check out IllustratedFaith.com if you’re interested in seeing more.