Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #9 “No fears, no grace”

Image

Can a Christian be depressed? Or afraid?

Yes, of course. One example in Pilgrim’s Progress is in the character of Mr. Fearing.  Mr. Great-Heart explains it this way when asked why:

“There are reasons for it; one is the wise God will have it so, some must pipe and some must weep. Now, Mr. Fearing was one that played upon this bass.” (The bass is the lowest pitch or range)

He goes on, “The first string that the musician usually touches is the bass, when he intends to put it all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when He sets the soul in tune for Himself. Only here was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing. He could play upon no other music but this, until towards his latter end.” Mr. Fearing could not overcome this until he was at the end of his life. Obviously, it hindered him.

The discussion goes on for a few pages. Then James, one of the young sons of Christiana, pipes up and says, “No fears, no Grace.” He was ahead of his time with that slogan!

Mr. Great-Heart responds, “Well said, James, thou hast hit the mark; for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

John Gill’s commentary explains the “fear of God” like this:

…by the “fear of God”, is not meant a fear of God’s wrath, of hell and damnation; nor a fearful distrust of his presence, power, providence, and grace; much less an hypocritical fear; but a reverential affection for God, and which is peculiar to the children of God, which springs from a sense of divine goodness, is attended with holiness of heart and life, is consistent with faith, even full assurance of it, and with spiritual joy in its highest degree…

Am I afraid? Sometimes. Depressed? Sometimes. Have I experienced God’s grace? Joyfully, yes.

I want to make bumper stickers now that read “no fears, no grace”. Maybe there is a Kickstarter campaign in my future?

photo credit annkkml

Thoughts on Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the Second – #8

Image

p. 289

Christiana, her sons, and Mercy, are being conducted by Mr. Great-heart through the Valley of the shadow of Death.

Christiana’s son, Samuel, makes a wonderful observation. He says, “It is not so bad to go through here, as it is to abide here always; and for ought I know, one reason why we must go this way to the House prepared for us is that our home might be made the sweeter to us.”

He continues, “Why, if ever I get out here again, I think I shall prize light and good way, better than ever I did in all my life.”

If our life were to be always carefree, think of all the blessings we would miss. I think there would be little satisfaction in things that come too easily.

Do you remember the first time you made a big purchase with money you had saved? I do. In high school I began working the summer before my senior year. I was able to buy myself a ten-speed bike. Later, I saved up for a bit and purchased my first stereo. Yes, with an awesome 8-track player included. I took great care with them both. They were acquired with my hard-earned money. Now, I would have enjoyed them if they had been gifts, but they were much sweeter to me because of the toil put into buying them.

The hard times in my life have drawn me closer to the Lord. It may not have always been clear to me at first; I wasn’t always happy in the valleys. But, when I came out on the other side, I was able to rejoice.

About 13 years ago, three of the kids were on vacation with my husband and me. We had been hiking through a heavily forested area on a foggy morning. Unexpectedly, our trail opened out into a meadow where we were greeted by a lone cow. It was a gorgeous view, made all the sweeter by having emerged from the darkened woods. I think of that day often as I have a picture on my office wall to remind me of it.

I pray that the Lord would see fit to lead me into whatever valleys I need in order to fully enjoy the meadows He has for me.

Thoughts on The Pilgrims Progress, Part the Second #6

Image

Part The Second, p. 228-229

After Christiana and Mercy were approached by two unsavory men, they cried out for help. They were unharmed, but very scared until Reliever came to them. He wondered why they had not asked for help before they set on their way.

Christiana said they were so taken by their blessing that future dangers didn’t enter their minds. Then she wondered why the Lord had not given them help anyway since He knew what was to come.

This is Reliever’s response:

“It is not always necessary to grant things not asked for, lest by doing so, they become of little esteem; but when the Want of a thing is felt, it then comes under, in the eyes of him that feels it, that estimate, that properly is it due, and so consequently will be hereafter used…. So all things work for good, and tend to make you more wary.”

I see two related lessons here.

  1. God allows us to want and need things so that we learn to lean on Him. When we come to God with our fears, concerns, or needs, He may grant us peace, or clarity, or actual provisions. When we realize that all we have is from Him, we love Him more and appreciate all His blessings even more.
  2. This next one may be reaching, but I don’t think so. Parents can apply this to how they give to their children. If you give them everything and they never have to wait or ask or even work for it, it becomes much less meaningful. 

Thoughts on The Pilgrim’s Progress #4

Imagephoto credit – anankkml

Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in the 1600s while he was in prison for his faith.

After the end of part one, there is a poem called “The Conclusion”. These four lines are part of the last stanza:

What of my dross thou findest here, be bold

To throw away, but yet preserve the Gold.

What if my Gold be wrapped up in ore?

None throws away the Apple for the Core.

I think what Bunyan is saying here is that if the reader finds something in his writings that are not correct, to not use that as a reason to throw out all he has written. He is admitting that he could be in error somewhere, but pleads for readers not to throw out the truth of scripture found in his writings. It’s like “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”

I ask the same. I am so very far from knowing all the truths in scripture. But, please don’t throw out my writings. If you find me in error, tell me. Send me scriptures to read. Share with me your insight. And, please, don’t throw out the baby and keep the bath water!