Springtime of the Soul was written following ten years of journaling in my time alone with God. As is often the case, I did not realize the true gift of my writing. It has become yet another part of the mystery of my journey. Something happened in those early morning hours as I sat in his presence in the soft glow of the candle light. When I put pen to paper—my mind was able to put some order to the confusion and I was able to focus on my personal thoughts and emotions. Each morning as I opened my journal and began to write, Dear Father … the tears began to flow and I wrote whatever I was feeling. God’s grace was transforming me. I wrote as I grew and I grew as I wrote.
Years later, when God asked me to go back and reread what I had written, I realized it wasn’t about the grammar, punctuation or spelling. My incomplete sentences did not matter, for my ramblings were the expression of my soul as I made the journey inward to discover what lie at the core of my being. The words upon the pages were often just phrases that he had brought to mind. Writing for excellence wasn’t important, my musings were meant for my eyes only.
I think of journaling as Holy Remembering. When God asked me to go back and reread what he had given me each spring, I was overwhelmed by his love for me. He had not given me springtime of my soul once at the time of my surrender, nor had he given me refreshment merely as a yearly reminder, no, he had provided renewal for my soul each and every morning. I recall the words I read early in my journey, “Write down these words for they are true and faithful,” (Rev. 21:5).
The words I wrote were indeed true and faithful in their teachings and were to become true and faithful in the work that God would call me to. Reflecting on the past allowed me to remember and appreciate the journey, bringing deeper meaning to my travels. Journaling is an opportunity to thank God for prayers that he has answered along the way as we reflect on our growth. It is only when we look back that we can see the themes in our life that keep unfolding.
I also think of journaling as Holy Listening. God demonstrated holy listening as he listened to me — unhurried, giving me all the time in the world to hear what was on my heart. He was preparing me for intimacy. The ability to listen is a prerequisite to love. To listen means to make an effort to hear something, to pay attention. Each morning, as I went to spend time with him, I went in anticipation of what he had to share. He taught me to turn my ears away from the sounds of this world and listen to the soft, sweet whisperings of his world. Over time I developed a heightened awareness of his voice.
Holy listening is obedience. To be obedient we must first learn to listen to the voice of the ONE giving direction. We must learn to listen for his voice in scripture, the dreams he gives us, and the words of friends and sometimes even the unfriendly. We must learn to listen in the darkness, the times when we struggle to see the light in our life. We must learn to listen in the suffering, knowing that there are lessons to be learned in our circumstances.
The study guide is designed to draw you into your own foray of journaling. There is no one way to journal any more than there is one way to take the journey. Simply write whatever God places in your heart, it need not be elaborate. God will use our meager notes in ways we never thought possible.
I appreciate the support of a friend who attended one of my first study groups. She participated as a way of showing her support for my efforts. She has since shared with me that she continues to learn as she writes during her time alone with God. I wish to thank her for suggesting this addition to the study guide. Remember, “Today, if you hear my voice, listen!” (Psalm 95:7).
“Today, if you hear my voice, listen!” –Psalm 95:7
Thoughts Upon Awakening.
I’ve always thought, if there were to be another book, the title would be Just Before Dawn—Thoughts Upon Awakening. The title continues to call me just as Springtime of the Soul. Not a day goes by without a gentle nudge. And yet I’m not sure it’s about another book or just putting the words out in a different venue. So for now, I’ve decided to simply post the thoughts and words given to me early in the morning as I rise to spend time with God. It has been years since that first awakening and stepping into the middle of the night where he called me. As I sat in the dark, I asked, “Could this be God?” If so, then what did he want? Little did I know—he just wanted me.
This time alone with God has continued to be the discipline of my Christian growth. I arise to be with him. Each morning I go expecting him to be waiting for me in our all familiar spot. For me, it is the time of day that my mind is the freshest, open and available to what he has to give me. I have made it my top priority, not one among many priorities but the very first of my day. He promises the manna, but we must be there to receive it. Welcome to my musings!
The sunrise is so silent; It never makes a sound! And yet I watch in awe, here, To see the sun come ‘round.
And as I see the changing, To ever brighter hue, I think of God Who made it—A really thrilling view.
He is the Master-Painter, Of sunrise, flower and bird; His power is seen in Nature; His love in Christ, the Word.
And suddenly all nature, Awakes! The sun is up! The Son of God rose also, From death. With men He’ll sup!
Oh, what a glorious lesson, We learn at each new dawn. God’s love’s been manifested; Sin’s darkest night is gone.
–Thoughts At Dawn by Betty Z. Walker