The Power of the Pen: Reflecting on the Word with a Pen

by | May 19, 2020 | The Gospel and the Christian Life, Featured

The pen carries more than ink; it contains eyes to see depths beyond our mind’s typical field of vision.

Every morning, I sneak quietly down the stairs into the calm of an empty kitchen and open up the backdoor blinds to see the dim light of a new morning. I do not linger but quickly put a skillet on the stove and grab my Bible, a notebook, and a pen. In 30 short minutes, this serenity turns to madness of the best kind: children jumping on their dad, begging for food, and asking Alexa to play tunes from their favorite T.V. shows.

Those 30 minutes, the order before the chaos, are arguably the most important of the day. Through God’s Word, I attempt to drink deeply from the Well of Joy to keep poisonous pleasures at bay. I awake weak, and while eating two eggs, over medium with cheese and pepper on top, I seek strength in the Almighty. But without the pen, I seek in vain.

A year or so ago, I realized how deficient my Bible reading process was. By lunchtime, I would strain to remember the broad scope of passages I earnestly read a few hours prior. Those truths, like our earthly existence, were there for a little while and gone just as fast.

The Bible exhorts us to do more than read. In speaking of the righteous person, it says: “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Scripture is meant to saturate our daily lives, permeating through our mundane and routine tasks. To make that condition a reality, we must faithfully write God’s truths on the tablet of our hearts (Proverbs 3:3).

For many, writing those truths on our hearts means writing them first on the page. To copy the text, paraphrase its meaning, or scribble a prayer related to the passage helps us see these truths clearly, treasure them deeply, and recall them faithfully.

I Write so That I May See

I write as an act of discovery, to more clearly see the height and depth of the truths before me. My notebook and pen force me to slow down and breathe in the deep aroma of God’s Word. I need these truths to penetrate my hard exterior, and that takes time and concentration, two things that writing facilitates. How easy it is to read but not see, to take in a passage but miss the point.

The slower pace means I will not read as much of the text; I only have so much time before my responsibilities as a dad begin. But what I read, I will see more clearly as I meditate on the Scriptures through the pen. That tradeoff is worth it.

I Write so That I May Treasure

We must not only know the truth, but we must also feel the weight of it: from the corrupting work of sin to the glory of our Savior. For Scripture to reach the heart, it must be more than head knowledge; it must be something we cherish. Seeing and treasuring are related: when we more clearly see the truths of Scripture, we will be in awe of them. Writing is an intimate activity that shapes our thoughts but also touches our emotions.

When I write as I read the Bible, I am moved to more intense worship because the intersection of seeing the truth and cherishing it is so strong. That worship produces an infectious joy that I hope to spread to my wife and kids throughout the day.

I Write so That I May Remember

I read my Bible almost every day, and yet, I struggle to recall much. Experts suggest that writing with pen and paper improves our memory by forcing us to summarize and recast ideas in our own words. Even copying down the text forces us to think about it more and gives us a better chance of transferring that information to long-term memory.

Remembering also comes naturally from seeing and treasuring: when we behold the Bible in all its terror and beauty, we will recall it more frequently and accurately throughout the day. It attaches itself to our hearts.

Confronting My Own Weakness

Every day, we do battle against our old nature (Ephesians 4:22). Our greatest asset in that war is seeing, treasuring, and remembering God’s Word. We should wield whatever tools and abilities we have to do that well. For me, that means writing about the text while I read it.

If you are struggling to hold tightly to the truths of Scripture or fail to feel the weight of them, consider grabbing a pen and paper, slowing down, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through the pen for your own sanctification. In the faithful discipline of writing, God will be glorified, and you will be blessed.

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