Here's an interview with Jean Williams, so you can 'get to know her' before we start reading through Pilgrim's Progress together.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I was brought up by faithful, godly parents who taught me about Jesus from the moment I was born, read the Bible with my brother and me each night, lived and talked about their faith moment by moment, and loved and enjoyed their children. They never talked down to us: I can’t remember a time I didn’t know about difficult doctrines the Trinity and predestination, so they never seemed unnatural to me. I made many “decisions for Christ”, until the day I was 9 and a beach mission counsellor told me I only had to “pray the prayer” once: that was the day I gained assurance. At uni, I doubted and questioned my faith. The breakthrough came the day I decided to read Mark all the way through, as if I hadn’t heard every story a thousand times, to see what Jesus was really like. I was completely blown away by this wonderful, compelling, irresistible person. That day, I fell in love with Jesus all over again.
What do you most love about reading?
I love losing myself in another world. When I come to the end of a long book that I’ve enjoyed, sometimes I cry. The spell is broken, and I won’t be able to live in that world with those characters anymore. It’s like a little death.
What is your favourite novel?
It sounds like a cliché, but it’s J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Now there’s a world you can lose yourself in for days. Plus C.S.Lewis’ Narnia and Perelandra series, for the same reason, and because of what they taught me about Jesus. And, like Nicole, I love anything by Jane Austen and Alexander McCall Smith. The only problem is that I’ve read some of these books so many times, I find them hard to read now, because I know which sentence is coming next!
What book has helped you the most in growing in your knowledge of God?
The Bible. Ok, ok, I know, but it bears repeating. After that, probably J.I.Packer’s Knowing God, which taught me the difference between “knowing about” God and “knowing” God, and how to meditate on God’s character and salvation. Recently, it’s been John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God, the best book on joy and spiritual disciplines I’ve read; and Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression, which taught me how to “talk to myself instead of allowing myself to talk to me” when I’m depressed or anxious, and which I’d love to do for this book club sometime, if Nicole lets me!!
And now you’ve learned one very important fact about me: I can never limit myself to one book.