Daily D – Numbers 33:1-2
This is the route the Israelites followed as they marched out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the LORD’s direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress. These are the stages of their march, identified by the different places where they stopped along the way. NUMBERS 33:1-2 (NLT)
My bride and I were considering spots for a quick vacation for just the two of us back in 2003. We were planning to go somewhere for a few days. We needed a quick getaway to clear our heads after Christmas and before things got really busy in the New Year.
After looking at everything available, we discovered it was cheaper at that time of year to fly to London than to Denver. We got our passports ready and took a quick trip across the pond, our first time abroad together.
As we were preparing to go, a friend paid us a visit with two small notebooks. She told us to make time each day to write down our adventures. She said that as much as we would like to believe that we could recall details with precision as time goes by, we would lose some of those important bits of information.
She was exactly right. I did not write down everything during that trip. I did not write down much of anything. There are details I wish I could recall with greater precision. I still have that empty journal to remind me of my lack of discipline at that time and the consequences that accompany it.
My first journaling experience began during my college years. My mentors and guides at the Baptist Student Union encouraged me to keep a spiritual journal. I had little understanding of what that meant. Fortunately, a national leader named Milt Hughes created a tool called the Spiritual Journey Notebook. It was full of tools to help students grow in faith and to keep good records of thoughts, feelings, fears, and hopes. I did not make as much use of this tool as I wish I had. It is a delight, however, to review and remember those first steps of independent soul care and development.
A couple of writing professors insisted we keep journals. Our journals were part of our grades. We were to write a thousand words or so a day. What we wrote about was not as important as creating the habit of daily writing. It did not take long to realize the value of this exercise. Again, I was not as disciplined as I should have been, but I was leaning into creating this new habit.
Two Christian writer conferences, one at the Billy Graham Center in North Carolina and the other at Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, New Mexico, provided more instruction on the value of daily writing habits. For many years now, I have written morning by morning.
A few years ago, I found the Day One app. This journal app has amazing capabilities. It reminds me early in the morning, at midmorning, and in the evening to jot down my thoughts. I have created sets of questions to help me process my thinking in each of those timeframes. For example, the midmorning reminder asks what the best thing to happen so far has been. A second question asks how I will spend the rest of the workday.
Last night, I followed my prompts and wrote down a few things. Then a bit later, I returned and wrote some more. I was agitated and irritated and did not need to go to bed that way. Writing down those thoughts and processing them there allowed me to lie down in peace to rest.
This is one of those seasons we will want to remember with precision. It will remind us of how we felt, what we feared, what we longed for, and what happened along the way. This will surely benefit us. It will also benefit others. Someday our families will look over our shoulders and see what we said. They will understand our hearts and minds all the better. They will gain perspective. Hopefully, they will gain courage and strength as well.
What if Moses had not kept good notes? Thankfully, he recorded the details of their journey of journeys. The details are precise. We still draw meaning for our daily lives from what they experienced over three millennia ago.
Today may well be the most important day of your life in some respect. Take good notes. It may take years for you to realize how important this day is. Find a tool to record what God is saying to you, how he is at work around you, how you are joining him in what he is doing, and what the intermediate results are. Write down your frustrations and fears. Record your hopes and dreams. Write out your prayers.
A misty recollection in no way compares to precise records. Give yourself the blessing of accurate reflection.
I will write down what God is doing in my life today.
Our Father, thank you for so many wonderful experiences. Thank you for the opportunity to revisit them again and again through memories recorded in writing. Thank you that these thoughts day by day benefit not only us but others. Give us ever-greater discipline in thoughtful reflection and accurate recording of how you are shaping history in our moments and days. Amen.
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Ruth 1:20, 21 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (CSB)