Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Quest for Godliness

Why do I always have this unquenchable nagging in my mind that I can be doing better? When I am schooling the children I feel I should be cleaning the house. When I am maintaining the home I think I should be working for an income. When I am striving to help provide for my family financially (as requested by my husband) I am convicted about being in God’s word. This dizzying mentality usually continues throughout the day, every day. There is a constant thought that says, “I should be doing something else right now to glorify God.” When I try to multitask, sometimes it works out well and other times it does not.

But I think I am missing the point of that nagging feeling and wonder if J.I. Packer has the answer. I am drawn to his ebook A QUEST FOR GODLINESS: THE PURITAN VISION OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Packer writes,
“…Between 1550 and 1700 [Puritans] too lived unfrilled lives in which, speaking spiritually, strong growth and resistance to fire and storm were what counted….the mature holiness and seasoned fortitude of the great Puritans shine before us as a kind of beacon light, overtopping the stature of the majority of Christians in most eras…the teaching and example of the Puritan giants have much to say to us.”


Packer goes on to say,
“…the Puritans have taught me to see and feel the transitoriness of this life, to think of it, with all its richness, as essentially the gymnasium and dressing-room where we are prepared for heaven, and to regard readiness to die as the first step in learning to live….The Puritans experienced systematic persecution for their faith; what we today think of as the comforts of home were unknown to them; their medicine and surgery were rudimentary; they had no aspirins, tranquillisers, sleeping tablets or anti-depressant pills, just as they had no social security or insurance; in a world in which more than half the adult population died young and more than half the children born died in infancy, disease, distress, discomfort, pain and death were their constant companions. They would have been lost had they not kept their eyes on heaven and known themselves as pilgrims traveling home to the Celestial City….Few of us, I think, live daily on the edge of eternity in the conscious way that the Puritans did, and we lose out as a result….

“…the Puritans shaped my churchly identity, by imparting to me their vision of the wholeness of the work of God that they called reformation, and that we would more likely nowadays call renewal….The Puritans gave me a concern for all these things together, as all sustaining each other, and all bearing on the honour and glory of God in his church…

“…the Puritans made me aware that all theology is also spirituality, in the sense that it has an influence, good or bad, positive or negative, on its recipients’ relationship or lack of relationship to God. If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both; if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, it inevitably feeds pride….

“…the Puritans are giants compared with us, giants whose help we need if ever we are to grow….The great Puritans, though dead, still speak to us through their writings, and say things to us that we badly need to hear at this present time….”


I am certain I too can learn much from the Puritans. I already enjoy their prayers in the book edited by Arthur Bennett entitled THE VALLEY OF VISION: A COLLECTION OF PURITAN PRAYERS AND DEVOTIONS. I think I am going to start with the above mentioned ebook by Packer and then work my way from there learning all I can about the Puritans.
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