by Janet Holm McHenry @LookingUpFirst
Have you ever gotten lost? My husband Craig doesn’t let me forget about Chicago.
We were driving from California to Washington, D.C., for internships in the capital. Those were back-in-the-day days. No GPS. No Google Maps. Just an old-fashioned paper map in my lap the whole trip.
Yes, I did a little driving myself: from Wells, Nevada, to Wendover, Nevada—all of fifty-eight miles. He still kids me about that.
It’s hard to get lost when you’re simply on Interstate 80 the whole way, but for some reason the signs were not helping in Chicago in the middle of the night. We took a wrong turn trying to find a campground. It cost us maybe an hour’s time in the whole mess.
There were two problems: first, it was dark, and second, everything is flat back there. We Californians, who tend to orient ourselves with our mountain ranges, tend to get lost in flat spaces.
I feel as though I am wandering in the dark right now without GPS or Google Maps. The days blend into each other. Work and home all look the same. My wardrobe is the same from day to day: yoga pants and a t-shirt. The only day that breaks up the routine is Sunday—with a worship service or two online from the living room couch.
The truth is, though, that we always have a directional finder: God’s Word. Every day we can open the Bible up, ask for God to direct our reading and thinking, ponder a bit about what we have read, and lean into the purposeful living that he graciously provides.
There are a few ways to actually dwell on or meditate on God’s Word. One is to approach the Bible with a pen or highlighter. With a pen, I find my reading becomes a search. I ask God, “Show me your good word for me today. Show me what I might share with others.” And he always does. I will underline any verses that seem to stand out to me.
Another way is to journal a Bible pictorially. Each day I will choose one particular verse to sketch out with colored pencils, then illustrate with a simple drawing. This slowing-down time of pictorial journaling helps me think about the verse I have chosen and how it might apply to my life.
One other way to make reading the Bible purposeful is to journal a Bible for someone in the family. I have been reading the Bible all the way through for about twenty years, but for the last five years I have journaled Bibles for my grandchildren, starting with the oldest. I think of the child as I am reading and look for ways to encourage him or her with personalized, marginal notes, verses, and drawings.
Word studies are also fascinating in the Bible. In the back of most Bibles is a concordance, which is an alphabetical list of important words found in the Bible. For example, if you were feeling dry emotionally, you could look up the word water in the concordance and find refreshment. Or if you were praying for a family member to be healed, you could look up the word heal and receive hope and direction for ways to pray.
All of these practices help me see the Bible in fresh ways as I seek direction for my own life. However we choose to study the Bible, we will find it gives us a sound roadmap for our day’s decisions, our relationships, our attitude, and the words we share with others.
He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. Isaiah 2:3 NIV
About the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of twenty-four books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk, which has encouraged tens of thousands to pray for their communities while they walk. Her business name is
Looking Up! because she encourages others to seek the Problem Solver, who can do the impossible. She would love to connect with you : https://www.janetmchenry.com.
Join the conversation: What is your favorite way of taking in Scripture?