Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"For God is our defence; and He to us doth safety bring....

Pilgrims Progress Lesson 01Fear has been on my mind - especially fears that may be completely unreasonable, but that are real nonetheless. That made me think of Mr. Fearing in Pilgrim's Progress so I looked up his story and shared part of what Mr. Great-Heart (his guide) explained to the other pilgrims about him below. What struck me the most in this story was how merciful God was to him in his fears. When I'm afraid I tend to feel even worse because I realize I'm not trusting the Lord, but in spite of his lack of trust the Lord pitied him and made his way easier than he did for some of the other pilgrims who were stronger in faith.


   "Such pity as a father hath
          unto his children dear; 

             Like pity shews the Lord to such
          as worship him in fear.

                      For he remembers we are dust,
              and he our frame well knows."

             Psalm 103:13-14 



 "....why, he was always afraid that he should come short of where he had a desire to go. Everything frightened him that he heard anybody speak of, that had but the least appearance of opposition in it. I hear that he lay roaring at the Slough of Despond for above a month together; nor dared he, for all he saw several go over before him, venture, though they, many of them, offered to lend him their hand. He would not go back again neither. The Celestial City, he said, he should die if he came not to it; and yet was dejected at every difficulty, and stumbled at every straw that anybody cast in his way. Well, after he had lain at the Slough of Despond a great while, as I have told you, one sunshiny morning, I do not know how, he ventured, and so got over. But when he was over, he would scarce believe it. He had, I think, a Slough of Despond in his mind, a slough that he carried everywhere with him; or else he could never have been as he was.


So he came up to the gate--you know what I mean--that stands at the head of this way; and there also he stood a good while before he would adventure to knock. When the gate was opened, he would give back; and give place to others, and say that he was not worthy. For, for all he got before some to the gate, yet many of them went in before him. There the poor man would stand shaking and shrinking; I dare say it would have pitied one's heart to have seen him; nor would he go back again. At last he took the hammer that hanged on the gate in his hand, and gave a small rap or two; then one opened to him, but he shrunk back as before. He that opened stept out after him, and said, "Thou trembling one, what wantest thou?" With that he fell down to the ground. He that spoke to him wondered to see him so faint. So he said to him, 'Peace be to thee; up, for I have set open the door to thee; come in, for thou art blessed.' With that he got up, and went in trembling; and when he was in, he was ashamed to show his face.

So he came till he came to our house; but as he behaved himself at the gate, so he did at my master the Interpreter's door. He lay thereabout in the cold a good while before he would adventure to call; yet he would not go back. And the nights were long and cold then. Nay, he had a note of necessity in his bosom to my Master, to receive him, and grant him the comfort of his house; and also to allow him a stout and valiant conductor, because he was himself so afraid; and yet for all that he was afraid to call at the door. So he lay up and down thereabouts till, poor man, he was almost starved; yea, so great was his dejection, that though he saw several others for knocking get in, yet he was afraid to venture.... he seemed glad though when he saw the cross and the sepulchre. There I confess he desired to stay a little to look; and he seemed for awhile after to be a little cheery.


I got him in at the house Beautiful I think before he was willing; also when he was in, I brought him acquainted with the damsels that were of the place; but he was ashamed to make himself much for company. He desired much to be alone; yet he always loved good talk, and often would get behind the screen to hear it. He also loved much to see ancient things, and to be pondering them in his mind.


When we went also from the house Beautiful down the hill, into the Valley of Humiliation, he went down as well as ever I saw a man in my life; for he cared not how mean he was, so he might be happy at last. Yea, I think there was a kind of a sympathy betwixt that valley and him; for I never saw him better in all his pilgrimage than when he was in that valley.


He would now be up every morning by break of day, tracing, and walking to and fro in this valley. But when he was come to the entrance of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I thought I should have lost my man; not for that he had any inclination to go back--that he always abhorred,--but he was ready to die for fear. But this I took very great notice of: that this valley was as quiet while he went through it, as ever I knew it before or since. I suppose those enemies here had now a special check from our Lord; and a command not to meddle until Mr. Fearing was passed over it.

It would be too tedious to tell you of all, we will therefore only mention a passage more.....when he was come at the river where was no bridge, there again he was in a heavy case; now, now, he said, he should be drowned for ever, and so never see that face with comfort that he had come so many miles to behold. "And here also I took notice of what was very remarkable: the water of that river was lower at this time than ever I saw it in all my life; so he went over at last not much above wetshod.

"O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee: Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah. Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth. Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee. Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee. LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me? I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off. They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together. Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness."
Psalms 88:1-18

Honest: "But what should be the reason that such a good man should be all his days so much in the dark?"

Great-heart: There are two sorts of reasons for it: one is, the wise God will have it so; some must pipe, and some must weep......things that were his troublers, and they, as you have well observed, arose from the weakness of his mind thereabout; not from weakness of spirit as to the practical part of a pilgrim's life. I dare believe, that, as the proverb is, he could have bit a firebrand, had it stood in his way; but the things with which he was oppressed, no man ever yet could shake off with ease.

Mercy. "If I might also speak my heart, I must say, that something of him has also dwelt in me. For I have ever been more afraid of the lake and the loss of a place in paradise, than I have been of the loss of other things. Oh, thought I, may I have the happiness to have a habitation there, it is enough, though I part with all the world to win it."
Pilgrim's Progress part 2


Sharing with A Holy ExperienceWomen Living Well,
and LACE.





Share |

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Intense Debate Comments

"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:6,8-1