Back in February of 2016, I wrote a post “Has Bible Journaling Gone Too Far?” To date, it has been my most popular post and has received the most comments (75!). As the comments keep occasionally rolling in, I realized I should write an updated post about this obviously interesting subject.
I want to make sure that I’m clear about one thing: If you read your Bible and you connect with God – that’s a GOOD thing. Whatever way you choose to do that is between you and God.
I’m thankful that I had so many comments on this original post because it means that this topic speaks to many people. It is a blessing that this post has engaged people the way it has and I’m so very blessed for that. If any of my posts can help people dig deeper in their walk with God – I feel like I’m doing what He’s asked me to do.
In addition, I’ve heard a lot of opinions about this topic and I can honestly agree with most of them. I still hold firm that the Word of God should NOT be covered up in any way. I’ve also since seen a lot of journaling that does glorify God and does connect the person to Him. That’s a good thing – no matter how you do it.
But I want to share a story with you that, I hope, illustrates my original point better.
I recently saw someone post about her Bible journaling. Most of what she was doing seemed benign to me and I did connect to her as a fellow Christian. But then she posted a new piece of artwork and I was concerned. She had been inspired by a Christian TV show to focus on a particular scripture. (That’s GREAT by the way! Anytime we can utilize mass media to teach the world about God is a great thing for the body of Christ.) However, when she completed her artwork with something that had nothing to do with the scripture, but, instead, the TV show, it bothered me. And, in addition, her artwork covered up a large portion of the scripture to boot. (To be fair, she said this was her “journaling Bible” so I assume she has another where she does not cover up scripture.) She proudly shared this artwork on social media saying, “I’m proud of how this turned out! I think I did a great job.”
Folks, that’s exactly what worries me about this trend. That is not focusing on the scripture. That is not focusing on Christ or His Word. That is focusing on worldly things (the TV show), on her achievements, on her skills and on her own pride without giving credit to the One who has given her those things. In my opinion, she wasn’t connecting to the scripture by doing this, she was creating artwork for her own enjoyment. And she defaced the Word of God to do it. For me, that is putting worldly things ahead of Him.
This is where, for me, it becomes a slippery slope. It can be so easy to focus on ourselves and on our talents. But those talents come from the Creator. He created us and gave us all the skills we have. Anything we create is as a result of how He made us. (Even this blog post, for example.) Bible journaling is supposed to connect us to Him. Proponents of this trend say it brings them closer to the Word. But, in this instance, I don’t think she was brought closer to the Word. The scripture she originally referenced was “Seek and ye shall find.” How ironic. She didn’t find Christ at all in this exercise, but only her own selfish pride.
I want to also say that I do highlight my Bible with a yellow highlighter occasionally. It doesn’t cover the words, only “highlights” them. I do occasionally underline something for emphasis. I do occasionally write things in the margins as well. But I don’t cover up any of the words. Ever. And when I read the Word of God, I treat those words with respect and reverence. I’ve been re-reading my Bible and have started a few new studies that help me reflect on the words of God in new ways.I want to know what God intended for each and every word He has given me. How could I do that if those words were covered up? How could I understand every single nuance that the Lord is trying to teach me if I can’t see the words?
So, yes, it’s okay to doodle, create artwork, underline, highlight and make notes in your Bible. I’m not the Bible journaling police! It’s all between you and God in the end, not you and me. But please, please be sure when you are creating these works of art in your Bible that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Not for your own gratification or your own pat on the back, but because God truly is speaking to you and leading you in the process.
I am SO thankful for those 75 comments on my original post. I’m thankful because it was a post about God that garnered a lot of attention. Any way I can cause my readers to consider His ways, is a good thing to me. And I’m thankful that it was enough for me to create this follow-up post. God has certainly opened up a doorway of conversation here and I’m anxious to keep it going. May it all be for His glory.
I thank each of you for reading and having opinions and commenting!