How good is your memory? Do you remember what your first bike looked like? Or your first grade teacher’s name? Or what you had for breakfast two days ago? I don’t know about you, but my memory is horrible. I don’t believe I can answer any of those questions, or at least the little fragments of answers I can come up with could be just what I’ve concocted in my own mind. I’ll set aside how nervous that makes me about what major details in my life I’m forgetting, probably because I’ve made so much room in my own head for Penguins stats. But I think a faulty memory can be one of the biggest enemies to living into our story with God. How do we combat this?

Write stuff down!

I have been in the habit of journaling since I was a boy in middle school. Something about pouring out my thoughts to a faceless nameless journal made all the sense in the world. So each night I would sit down on my bed with a little notebook and write out everything that had happened, and what it made me think about or feel. Somewhere in the horrible mess that is our basement, there are boxes and boxes of old journals that contain the (probably too embarrassing to face) tales of my youth.

Somewhere in there, between middle school and high school, my faith in Jesus became real to me, and so my journaling took on a new dimension, namely what God was doing throughout my day, and what that made me think or feel. How has this carpenter from the Middle East been moving and acting in my day? Where did I see him on the move? Where did I fail to see him? Where, if I had in fact seen him where I thought I had, did I anticipate seeing him next? Where are the stories of redemption, and where are the false starts? I could fill pages and pages…

So this requires so very little, but it does require a few things:

To be able to keep a record of what Jesus has been doing throughout our days, we need to walk each day with an awareness of Jesus. Let’s be honest, he’s incredibly easy to miss! It doesn’t mean he’s not working, it just means that I’m not paying attention. As I sit here at a branch office (Dunkin Donuts for the painfully curious) I am already wondering how much I’ve missed Jesus at work. Was he working on me as I was reading the paper? Was he in the pages of the book I’m reading? Is he a part of the conversation at the table next to me? Is he inviting me in? I’ve found that the best thing to do is to go through the day with this question on my mind: What are you up to Jesus? I tend to notice a lot more this way.

I know, I know. We’re all horribly busy. For a moment, let’s set aside my usual gripes about how over-committed we all are as a culture, and just note that we’re not actually as busy as we think we are, or perhaps even as we would like to be. Take a few moments right now as you read this, and pull out your calendar. Actually write (or type, if you’re digital like me) a block of 15 minutes into your day for journaling. Busy as we are, if it doesn’t get written down it doesn’t happen. You get bonus points if you are able to go to the same time each and every day to write down what God is up to in your life. Mornings, afternoons, nights. It doesn’t matter much when the time is, so much as it matters that you make the time.

The nice part about a journal is that I am (reasonably) sure that I am the only person who will ever lay eyes on this book. When I tell my story, I don’t have to pretend to be better than I am. I don’t have to pretend that I don’t struggle with anything at all. I can open up, admit my faults, and (most importantly) see Jesus work in forgiveness in my life. If we are never honest about where we’ve fallen, we’ll never feel the true weight of Jesus picking us back up. So in your journal, take some time to just be true and honest with God and with yourself. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

So, What’s Jesus up to in your life?

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