Last week I posted on John Beadle, the English Puritan who wrote the first book on journal keeping as a spiritual discipline back in 1656.
It is an odd book — Beadle could have used a good editor.
It is also a wise book — he has excellent advice that can make journaling a fantastic way to begin to see God at work in your life and the world.
It is a tad hard to find these days. Lucky for you I include a chapter of it in The Kneeling with Giants Reader — the free companion volume of primary source material that comes with your e-book version of Kneeling with Giants.
If you are one of the many who don’t like journaling because you just don’t know what to write, here is John Beadle’s first practical assignment:
“1. Let every man keep a strict account of his effectuall [sic] calling, and of his age in Christ; and (if it may be) set down the time when, the place where, and the person by whom he was converted.”
Okay, what the heck is “effectual calling”? That was a big step in the process of salvation in Puritan thinking.
- “Calling” may be obvious: God calls to you with the good news of Jesus Christ. The call goes out far and wide.
- “Effectual” is more difficult: The Holy Spirit works in your heart so that you can respond with faith. The call becomes effective and we become Christians.
So if you have come to a place where you have faith, Beadle says you should spend some time writing about how you got there.
- For some there is a story of dramatic change — absolutely self-destructive life followed by radical conversion.
- For some there is a story of being steeped in the faith — they never knew life without Jesus.
- For still others the story has lots of twists and turns — following, running away, forgetting to bother, and following again.
We all got to faith somehow. We need to write about the seasons, or events, or people who helped us grow. If we write them down we will actually remember them. We will notice that God was at work, drawing us close and building us up.
God is always working in us and around us. Most of us don’t take the time to look.
Why is journal keeping a secret to seeing God at work? Writing down the stories makes you pay attention.
So what about you?
If you are a Christian have you every written down the stories of how God helped you come to faith?
If you struggle with faith, have you ever written down the story of your own doubts? Your agnosticism? Your atheism? You’ve had a journey to get where you are. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find God was at work along the way.
I hope you’ll give it a try. I hope you’ll share one key discovery in the comments!
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