Permission Granted

By Valerie Matyas

In the creative journaling world there is something called a “Permission Page” or a “Dedication Page.” This opening sheet is typically found at the beginning of a journaling Bible or journaling sketch book. A permission page opens the door to try, make mistakes, be creative, pour out, and be brave. A dedication page might be directed toward a certain spiritual discipline, a set amount of time, or a specific purpose. Think of it as a creative warm-up.

I frequently speak with people who are cautious or wary in regards to writing in their Bible, let alone adding color, stickers, and paint. I think they come by the feeling honestly. For years in grade school and high school we are told not to write in our textbooks. In college we want to make as few marks as possible so that we can sell it for a good return.

When it comes to our Bibles, although the book belongs solely to us, we are hesitant to mark it up perhaps out of reverence to the holiness of Scripture. I respect that. But if our reverence prohibits us from using it, opening it, reading it, or taking our Bibles along with us wherever we are going this week, then I wonder if we haven’t missed something important.

I want to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest Scripture. I want to read it, copy it, highlight it, underline it, and draw arrows in it. I want to annotate in the margins the connections between the Old and New Testaments. I want to see visually how Scripture interprets Scripture and how the whole Book points to the story of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Show me a Bible that is falling apart, and I’ll show you a life that is not. Consume the Word, use it, delight in it, meditate on it. Make it yours: it belongs to you; it was given to you. If nothing else, write your name on the line that says, “This book belongs to: ___.”

This is the Word of the Almighty God, who spoke through prophets and apostles; and it is yours. You have permission to use it until the binding is loose and pages are starting to fall out. Treat it with respect as you read it, use it, explore it, and carry it around with you; but for the sake of your own relationship with Jesus, by all means read it, use it, explore it, and carry it around!

As we got going in the on-line Facebook community “When From Death I’m Free Pop Up Group,” I invited the 400+ members to consider creating a “Permission Page” or “Dedication Page” on page 6 or on the inside the front cover. I told them to think of it as an invitation to create, to warm-up, to flex their creative meditative muscles. Kids don’t need permission to color; sometimes adults do. Give yourself permission.

I’ll admit, sometimes the first pencil, pen, or marker stroke is the scariest. A blank page or canvass can be intimidating.  But the reality is, you have nothing to lose. Start with something simple: write your name and the date. Break the ice. It’s your book, it’s your Bible, and you can write in it. Even if it’s just your name and the date. Take a step, we’re cheering you on!

Would you like to see some examples? Check out these pages from our community. These are all used by permission in the hopes that they will inspire and encourage you to try something for yourself.

Many of these examples use the words, “Jesus, help!” That phrase is from the inscription composer J.S Bach often wrote when he began a piece of music: JJ, for “Jesus, Juva” or “Jesus, help!” JJ was also part of the Author’s Note in the hymn journal you see in most of these images. (I actually spelled it wrong it that first hymn journal, with a very interesting result: read more in the blog “Jesus, judge me!

Special thanks to the people who shared their work: Susan Biel, Lisa Brass, Erica Eden, Ann Gillaspie, Rachel Hinz, Marilyn Leavens, and Valerie Matyas.

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