Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman
Recently, the Bible journaling pages of Sherri Chan caught my eye. On the Illustrated Faith Facebook page, Sherri posted an image of a Japanese cracked pot mended with gold. Her image displayed the beauty of the practice of kintsukuroi.
Once I saw those pictures, I had to get to know her! She does not know any other Bible journalers in Asia, if you are one, or know someone, please let Sherri know! You can enjoy Sherri’s artistic pages at her “Colors of Faith” Instagram page. Here is the story Sherri shares about her experience with Bible journaling:
I was born in Taiwan, grew up in the U.S., and now live in Hong Kong. I’m married to a wonderful Godly husband, and a proud mother of two beautiful children. Ever since I became a Christian, I have always served in my local church. When I moved to Hong Kong 11 years ago, I have had the privilege of being a part of a global ministry called “Family Journey (Homecoming).” I do large-scale conference/gathering coordination and a lot of on-stage translation (mainly from English to Mandarin and vice versa.)
A few years ago, I came across a photo of someone’s pen drawing of an angel’s wing on a Bible. I thought it was a nice picture but the person must have gotten bored with reading or something. Then, I was invited to teach DTS at a YWAM’s base in India in December 2016. I stayed at the base leader’s home and his American wife showed me her journaling Bible and art journals. I never knew that such a thing (Bible journaling) even existed! I have seen people draw prophetic art at gatherings, but on a Bible as devotions?!? That was really an eye-opening time for me, and I realized that it could be something that I would enjoy.
Immediately after returning from my trip to India, both caretakers for my parents-in-law suddenly left and my father-in-law’s health quickly deteriorated at the same time. I had to cut most of my travels to be at home for them. For the same reason, I found time for Bible journaling. I used to travel abroad two or three weeks in a month. If it weren’t for this, I don’t think I would ever have time to develop my Bible journaling, even if I wanted to. It was like the Lord made a sharp halt for me so that I could get started on this.
When I first met Pastor Bill Johnson in 2012, I asked him about how he reads his Bible so that he can get so MUCH more out of the same book that I am reading. He told me that he just loves the Word of God to a point that he reads the Bible as a leisure book whenever he has time. My first reaction inside was “You must be kidding!” I like reading the Bible, but reading it as a leisure book?!? I couldn’t picture myself loving it that much!
However, ever since I started Bible journaling, the Bible has come alive to me again but in different forms—in pictures, colors, symbols, and sounds. It sharpens my spiritual senses to His Spirit. Now, whenever I see nature, I think of some scriptures. When I hear songs or listen to sermons, I see pictures. Literally, I can sense how everything (the world) was “created and held by His Words” and I am immersed in His grace and power every day.
It also helps me to process emotions. One night, I couldn’t fall asleep after the doctor at the hospital told us to prepare for the worst for my father-in-law. I got up in the middle of the night and did the lion page. It reminded me how our God will always triumph gloriously even in the most difficult spots of life.
When I started in Feb 2017, I didn’t know how to do art journaling in my Bible (nor had I done any type of art for over 30 years), so I browsed through the work of others to get ideas. When I experimented with some art media that I read about online, the result was often not what I had expected. The first time (see this link for information on using gelatos) I used gelatos, I didn’t know that we could blend colors with a wet towel… All I saw were crayon-like smears! Then I drew the lines wrong. Yet, in the end, I heard the Lord say, “It’s ok. Nothing is wasted when you are with me.” To this day, that page remains as my favorite one because “I am safe when I take refuge under His wings.” (Referring to Ps 36:7-9 “feather” page.)
At another time, I tried out a new technique using Tombow brush pens. I had learned from my previous experience that I should try everything on another piece of paper first. The result came out great on a card paper. But when I repeated that on my Bible, it was NOTHING like what I had achieved a few minutes ago. But it was too late. I didn’t know how to save it and had nothing bright enough to cover up the strong colors. I tried and tried… nothing seemed to work. I finally realized, in frustration, that this is my choice of worship… so will I choose to remain in His presence and continue to drink from the “fullness of joy”, or be anxious about a “messy-looking” page? It was then that I realized I can always choose joy over a “good” work, and nothing I do together with the Lord will be a waste, even when things do not come out as I had expected. (Referring to the “Psalm 16 Joy” page.)
Now, instead of browsing online, I stay with what the Lord impresses on my heart. For one, it helps me to stay away from the trap of comparison. It also encourages me to spend more quiet time before God, which is actually the main purpose of my journaling.
I sometimes get a picture, scripture, or concept at random times, so I always log them on my cell phone first. When I have time to do a page, I will go through that list and pray about which one to do, search online for a photo to serve as a base, then start. I still have some ideas that I probably can never draw, but it’s ok. More importantly, it’s getting that download from the Lord.
Doing bible journaling allows me to discover how I tend to stay with colors that I feel comfortable so I would intentionally break out of my comfort zones sometimes. Also, it helps to remove my fear of writing and provides a way to share what Papa Father deposited in my life over the years.
One of my favorite scripture verses is Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I have done two pages on the same concept—my first page (I Cor 2:16, “Mind of Christ”) and the butterfly page (Rom 12:1-2, “Be Transformed”). Understanding the significance of this verse has really changed my journey with the Lord.
Though I have been a Christian for over thirty years and served extensively for over ten years, I still find myself struggling with identity. Maybe because of my Asian background, I would often subconsciously define my value based on what I do (or what I can do), rather than who I truly am in Christ. If you ask me, my head knows all the correct answers, but they are not true beliefs in my heart. (I always shared that the greatest distance between me and my God is only 14 inches… from my head to my heart. Well, in my case, maybe 12 inches because I am not that tall. Haha.)
In 2014, the Lord told me to pay attention to my negative emotions and ask myself why I have them in the first place. Practicing this, I was surprised to discover how many lies of the enemy I had unknowingly believed, and how little faith I had in the words of God!
For instance, I realized that I often get frustrated when things don’t go as I planned (totally not much faith in Rom 8:28), or feel insecure when I am no longer being needed (reflecting that I build my worth not on what He says about me in the scripture, but on what or how well I could perform.)
The mind is also the target of the enemy and where most of our spiritual battles take place. I have come to realize that, without having a transformed mind, we will never know who we are, who He is, or whose we are. We will always interpret life based on our history, our abilities, and/or our possessions (wealth, education, job, talents, etc.) Though saved, we are still orphans without a true connection with our loving Father. I would like to recommend a small book by Wendy Backlund, “Living from the Unseen: Reflections from a Transformed Life”. This book verbalizes many of the same experiences that I have gone through and it truly is a great resource to help anyone who wants to live with a transformed mind of Christ.
Bible journaling is not popular in Asia. You cannot even find a single-column Bible in HK. (I had to order my ESV single-column Bible from Amazon in the States, which my son carried back to Hong Kong for me.) Soon after I started, the Lord told me to post my journal pages on Facebook. I felt really reluctant at first because it was like exposing my personal diary to the world. But the Lord said He wants to use this to encourage others to do the same. So I obeyed. For months, I only posted for my own friends. It was only last week that I felt led to post in the “Illustrated Faith-Bible Journaling Community”.
I feel SOOOOOO surprised and honored to be interviewed/introduced like this. While I thought the Lord only wanted me to encourage my friends, I would have never known that I may one day be an encouragement to people whom I don’t know by using my art. Thank you so much for inviting me. It is a tremendous encouragement.