When I was six years old, my babysitter gave me my first journal. It was pink with a cat on the front cover, and it had a “lock” on it so that none of my imaginary friends could see inside and witness my personal, yet very brief accounts of interactions with the likes of my teachers, other first graders . . . and stuffed animals. Though it didn’t mean as much to me at the time, that journal marked the beginning of my relationship with reflection as a practice.
As an introvert, I found that I gravitated towards writing about my life rather than talking about it. The words came much more easily when I took time to find a quiet spot, open up my journal, and process my thoughts, feelings, and ideas on paper. And as my relationship with Christ grew from elementary school through high school, college, and beyond, much of my relationship with Him—my fears, my emotions, my questions, my joy and thanksgiving—ended up captured in the pages of now tens of journals I’ve collected over the years.
From Moses to Jeremiah, the Bible is filled with instances where God has commanded His people to respond in one way or another, whether songs or oracles. People of faith have been responding to God for centuries—many times through writing. The Lord instructed the prophet Habakkuk to:
“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false . . .”
– Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NIV)
In that instance, written reflection and response to God’s Word wasn’t just serving an individual. It was meant to serve an entire group of people!
In our day, taking time to stop and reflect in response to God’s Word, whether it be the Bible or His Truth expressed through worship, a podcast, coffee with a friend, or a sermon, seems like a luxury. Between appointments and meetings and getting the kids to school and from practice, taking time to intentionally respond to an invisible God may feel like a waste of time. But responding to who Jesus is and what He has to say is crucial if we are going to be formed by Him to look more like Him. Followers of Christ must also be responsive to Christ. So whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, a contemplative or an activist, here are some ways we can respond to Jesus. Chair Time is a great place to engage in reflection and response, but these same strategies can be used anytime we feel the need to reflect on what God might be saying to us.
Journal: Pick a journal you actually like, and bring it with you to Chair Time. (For me, it’s in the morning before the kids wake up!) One way you can start journaling is by just naming the primary emotion that you’re carrying into (or out of) your day. (Primary emotions include: Sadness, Anger, Fear, Happiness, Excitement, Tenderness)
Then ask the question: Why might I be feeling this way? This will help you pinpoint the circumstances surrounding that emotion. Then, ask Jesus to speak His Truth to you about that emotion and those circumstances. As you work through your Chair Time—preparing your heart, reading the Bible, praying—write whatever comes to mind. As you get into the habit of journaling, find a way to weave prayers of gratitude for Christ’s presence with you throughout your entries.
Create: Some people who are dear to me respond to Jesus through creating. Whether through art or music, creating a picture, a story, or a song could be a great way to respond to what Jesus may be saying to you in your Chair Time. Keep track of these pieces of creation somewhere so that you can look back and experience the journey He’s led you through.
Move: My husband is extremely active and has expressed that he sometimes has his best ideas and most intimate connections with Jesus while he’s running! If you decompress and can reflect through movement, choose a rhythm and activity that is conducive to you connecting with Christ. Maybe you start Chair Time in a chair, but finish it on a walk or run, maybe you listen to the Bible read through your earphones and then pull out your phone and take note of what you’re seeing or hearing as you move.
The beauty of these and other modes of reflection is that, over time, you get to look back and remind yourself of what God’s been up to—what He’s been teaching you and how He’s been guiding you along the way. I’ll oftentimes pull out my favorite journal, a brown leather-bound with thick pages, the one I wrote in around our wedding and honeymoon, and read in awe as I re-engage with that season of my life. I come away reminded of the challenges I faced, yet deeply grateful for how Jesus met me in the midst, inviting me to do life with him along the way.
Whether it’s through journaling or creating or taking a walk, choose one way you can intentionally make space to respond to Jesus as a part of Chair Time. Perhaps try all three and see what connects! Above all, my hope is that you’ll dive into the joy of being on the journey with Christ, marking moments along the way and choosing to be formed into His likeness, for His glory. He has so much in store for you. Don’t miss it.