Friday, March 28, 2008

Courageous Pilgrim

I am currently reading Pilgrim’s Progress. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe a Christian book lover didn’t get around to this book before now! I have a really nice hardback edition (in the original language, of course), with great illustrations and A Life of the Author (which I skipped but will go back to), and I realized I had put off reading this Christian classic for way too long.

Anyway, this book is deceptively simple; one of those stories that can be read on multiple levels. The more I read the more I can identify with Christian and his journey. What I read today struck me. Christian is now traveling with Faith, and Faith is telling about his encounter with Shame. Shame tries to put pilgrims to shame before men and make them ashamed of what is good.

Faith says this, “But at last I began to consider, that ‘that which is highly esteemed among men, is had in abomination with God.’ And I thought again, this Shame tells me what men are; but he tells me nothing what God or the Word of God is. And I thought, moreover, that at the day of doom, we shall not be doomed to death or life according to the hectoring spirits of the world, but according to the wisdom and law of the Highest.
Therefore, thought I, what God says is best, indeed is best, though all the men in the world are against it. Seeing, then, that God prefers his religion; seeing God prefers a tender conscience; seeing they that make themselves fools for the kingdom of heaven are wisest; and that the poor man that loveth Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates him; Shame, depart, thou art an enemy to my salvation! Shall I entertain thee agaist my sovereign Lord? How then shall I look him in the face at his coming? Should I now be ashamed of his ways and servants, how can I expect the blessing?”

And then he sings this song:

“The trials that those men do meet withal,
That are obedient to the heavenly call,
Are manifold, and suited to the flesh,
And come, and come, and come again afresh;
That now, or some time else, we by them may
Be taken, overcome, and cast away.
Oh, let the pilgrims, let the pilgrims, then
Be vigilant, and quit themselves like men.”
Yes, the trials do come, over and over and over. We must be aware of them, we must watch for them with vigilance. And we must fight with courage, standing up and acting like who we are, men and women of the Most High God. I do not want to be a cowardly Christian. And the only way to make it is to depend on God's strength and power.
Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you...
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