For such a long time, studying the Bible felt like a serious endeavor to me, one that I associated with Bible dictionaries and shelves filled with long books. Then one day a Facebook friend shared a link to a colorful Bible journal.
Seeing a Bible study journal lovingly and joyfully decorated had such a powerful effect on me. Never in a million years would I have thought to approach Bible study with stickers, markers, and washi tape, which is weird in a way. I teach Sunday school to preschoolers at my church, and I use all kinds of art supplies with my kids. I just never thought to make it fun for myself. Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt so awed by the joyous expression of the lady’s quiet time with God. And I knew in an instant what was missing in my devotion time! The sudden realization that reading the Bible can be creative and colorful made me want to get started right away!!!
Looking back, I do have wonderful memories of learning Bible verses as a child, spending time with creative Sunday school teachers, singing in the children’s choir, and when I was a little older hanging out with friends in the youth room of our church. The Bible has always been part of my imagination, and the words of the Bible are part of my thought process; verses come to mind in any and all kinds of circumstances. Somewhere along the line my perception shifted, maybe college? My roommate adored the course on Scripture that we both took, but to be totally honest, I felt a little shocked at how the Bible was studied in an academic setting. I’m not sure what upset me so; maybe it seemed that everyone had a bad case of missing the forest for the trees? Eventually, I decided I must have been wrong or silly or childish in how I approached the Bible. I felt this need to grow up and get serious. The Bible gifted to me by my church was replaced with a study Bible with lots of footnotes.
I have great now respect for the intellectual approach, but just seeing such a colorful Bible Study journal really healed something for me. I could once again see the beauty in my simple love for Bible stories and the way that verses of Scripture float around in my head. I remembered that it’s more than ok to connect with the Bible personally, to let the words simply speak to me. There is value to this approach, too. And this is the direction I feel called. I have often reflected on how awesome it is that the Bible begins: “In the beginning, when God created…” It is so amazing that as people we have this incredible ability to be creative, to make something new or do something in our own unique way. It is such a wonderful gift and not one that should ever be taken for granted.
Some may take the view the Bible is extremely sacred, not a canvas. I realize that art journaling the Bible won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d simply respond with three points: 1) The Bible I plan to use is made for journaling. I could keep a separate journal, of course, but keeping my art and the words that inspired it together is simpler! 1) Long before the printing press, scripture was hand-written and beautifully embellished. 2) I never want to fall into the trap of worshiping the Bible; I worship God. And thinking from a completely different point of view, I guess some people view the Bible as just a book written thousands of years ago. My hope is the my art will shed light on why this book has been a source of comfort, peace, joy, courage, strength, and love to countless generations! And why it uniquely sings to the depths of my soul!
So I’ve decided: “I am going to get started on this and I’ll find a way to share this journey because it’s going to be fun!” I can’t wait to see where this leads!!! You are more than invited to join me! I’d love to know if/how adding art to your Bible has enhanced your experience of the Word!