Saturday, August 18, 2007

Some Thoughts On The Christian Walk

An all-time favorite book of mine is Pilgrims Progress. For those who might not know, this is a book written mostly in a jail cell by John Bunyon in the seventeenth century. It is an allegory of a young man named Christian and his journey along the path of life from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Wikipedia shows this book as number six on the all time best seller list of books. One reason for the book's success, I think, is because Christians easily relate to the story as well as to characters such as Faith, Love, Obstinate, Vein Hope and others which the character Christian faces in his sojourn. Also I think many Christians find the book comforting because the allegory aspect of the book causes its encouragement to be timeless. The reader finds solace knowing that the struggles he is experiencing are no different than those who have gone before him; that he is indeed surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

My own path out of the City of Destruction began fifteen or so years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. The path seemed like an up hill climb at the time as I studied scriptures, listened to teachers, and attempted to apply what I had learned to life. I had not read Pilgrims Progress at the time, and never anticipated the fact that the journey was just that; a journey. I can remember looking forward to the day when I would become a confident and competent Christian and the path would level out and be smooth and easy. Of course this has not happened, nor do I any longer expect it to. Sure there have been periods of rest just as there were with Bunyon’s Christian, but for the most part this walk has proved to be fraught with traps, snags, and dangers that lurk beyond every bend and crest.

Some might ask, then why take the path at all? To answer I will cite one of my most beloved events in Scripture. It can be found in John chapter six. Jesus was telling a crowd that to have life; they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. These words caused the crowd to disperse quickly leaving Jesus alone with his twelve disciples. Then Jesus asked them, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Then Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter’s question is one of my most favorite scriptures of all. I love it because I have asked the same question many times, “to whom shall I go?”

There is one more thing I’ve learned about this path that Bunyon doesn’t’ mention. This is the fact that at each step, the path behind me crumbles away. No matter how many steps I take forward up the mountain, so to speak, it is always only one step backward to the bottom. There are no intermediate destinations along the way where one can drive in a steak and say this is as far as I’m going, and it is far enough. No, the Christian walk is one that is for life, and one that has a destiny that is not of this world. We fix our eyes not on what we see, but what we do not see, a city with foundations whose architect and builder is God himself. But one of the most precious things we can know about this walk, whether it be during a difficult stretch, or a smooth one, is we are not left here to go it alone. The Author and Perfecter of our faith is always there to lead and guide us, and though we may occasionally fall, we are not cast down, for he will always uphold us with his hand.

12 comments:

Penless Thoughts said...

Danny, what a GREAT post. I am so glad you posted this. If it was just for me!!!! (and I know it wasn't and God will touch many with it). I have read Pilgrams Progress many times but had forgotten about it. With what we are going through with our Granddaughter it is just what I needed to be reminded of. I'm going to pull it off the bookshelf and reread it today!!!! Thank you. I also appreciate your added thought about not going backward as far. Although if we get turned in the wrong direction, quit looking to Jesus, the only way is down.
Blessings,
Susan

Penless Thoughts said...

Just saw Fighting the Giants recently after reading about it on another blog. We watch very few movies or dvds.

I did pull out my Pilgrams Progress and have already started it. I had forgotten, but I had been awarded it as a prize back in the 70's for completing Bible Memory work!!!!
Susan

Jon said...

...I have asked the same question many times, “to whom shall I go?”

Nice post. I myself have asked the same question. When my wife and I were newly married, things were pretty rough for us. God really lead us to the point where we had to decide whether we would follow Him or not. In the end, we decided to continue to follow Him. Like Peter and you, we realized that there was nowhere else to go. Thank God we chose Him!

Pat Jenkins said...

dw how would you define "confident compatent christian"? one who knows his identity in christ, or one walks the road of purity?

janelle said...

Good one, Danny, as usual!

danny wright said...

Pat, That's a good question. In the context of the article, It is a place we never really reach in this life, as with Christian in Pilgrim's Progress. I certainly see others that way, but at the same time I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't see themselves that way. I see Jon as such, and Chris to name a couple who have visited here, mainly becuase they seem very comfortable of denfending their faith in a knowledgable and forthright way, yet never seeming angry or uptight. That makes them look both competent and confident from my perspective. But we all live in our skin with our thoughts, and they betray us to ourselves.

Livingsword said...

Danny;
Excellent article, it made me think of Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 6, he was probably one of the holiest men of his time yet when he had his vision of God in the temple he had a perspective upon his own unworthiness and sin that devastated him, the closer we get to God the more our dirt is visible, this is a very humbling experience which certainly helps us grow and makes it is clear that the Master is the only one we can go to.

I have posted the start of a mini-series of articles based upon our dialogue last week. I invite you and your guests to visit and make comments. I have many guests of various beliefs that visit my blog so it is great to hear the thoughts of other followers of Jesus.

Frasypoo said...

That was a great post.I had completely forgotten about Pilgrims Progress.The movie is shown in India in aiding Outreach!
Need to find a copy to re-read it!It will bring about a renewal of faith
Thanks for writing this post

Livingsword said...

Hi Danny;

I wanted to let you know that I very much appreciate you and your blog. You are a good guy with a passionate faith and I love that.

I want you to know that I have presented you with an award, come and get it from my blog http://lifeontheblade.blogspot.com/ under the article “Awards…for me…?”

azron said...

Good stuff here Danny, I read Pilgrim's Progress many years ago in College - secular college at that - it was required reading as part of our English class.

I am not big on allegory - but this is probably allegory at its best - amazing that it was written from prison. Have you noticed that some of the greatest books in history were written by people in prison!!!!

danny wright said...

Ron

I'm not big on Allegories either, but I agree with you about this one. I'm not aware of any other books written in prison; any suggestions?

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