My dad has been recording a journal since before us kids were born, and it always makes my day whenever he emails a moving entry from the past (or present) to us kids. I also enjoyed D.A. Carson’s Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor earlier this year, which he wrote from his father’s journal entries.
I’ve frequently thought of starting a journal but never saw it through to implementation. But at the end of John Flavel’s The Mystery of Providence (1678), he encourages the reader to keep a journal for the purpose of recording God’s works of Providence:
“Do not trust your slippery memories with such a multitude of remarkable passages of Providence as you have, and shall meet with in your way to heaven. It is true, things that greatly affect us are not easily forgotten by us; and yet, how ordinary is it for new impressions to raze out former ones?…Written memorials secure us against that hazard, and besides, make them useful to others when we are gone, so that you do not carry away all your treasure to heaven with you, but leave these choice legacies to your surviving friends. Certainly it were not so great a loss to lost your silver, your goods and chattels, as it is to lose your experiences which God has this way given you in this world.
“Take heed of clasping up those rich treasures in a book, and thinking it enough to have noted them there; but have frequent recourse to them, as oft as new needs, fears or difficulties arise and assault you. Now it is seasonable to consider and reflect, Was I never so distressed before? Is this the first plunge that ever befell me? Let me consider the days of old, the years of ancient times, as Asaph did (Ps. 77:5).
“Beware of slighting former straits and dangers in comparison with present ones. That which is next to us always appears greatest to us, and as time removes us farther and farther from our former mercies or dangers, so they grow less in our eyes, just as the land does from those who sail…Make it as much your business to preserve the sense and value as the memory of former Providences, and the fruit will be sweet to you.”
Therefore, I resolve to record the workings of God’s Providence in my life as often as I can, so as to never lose sight of God’s grace and mercy manifested throughout my life. I’m starting it in Google Documents, so that I can access it on any computer that has an Internet connection. Maybe my first entry will be on my cortisone shot scheduled for this afternoon.
Since I’m inexperienced with journals, do you have any suggestions? Do you keep an electronic or hand-written version? If electronic, do you save each entry as its own separate file, or do you have the journal saved as one running file? How often do you typically journal?