inspired by Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
By-path meadow is looking most lovely these days. When people I love keep insisting that the soft ground and wide path makes for best passage of the travels through life, sometimes it becomes difficult to persist on the rocky narrow road that seems bent on shaping parts of my character that I deemed just fine, thankyouverymuch. It is hard to love on these people who waver between persistence that I join their party or else, if they don’t outright dismiss me, they’ll just mock me for my insistence that yes, this…this hard and difficult and sometimes makes-no-sense road…is the right and proper road. It’s God’s road. He set it up this way.
Why would God make it challenging? If I’m truly His daughter, why wouldn’t He make THEIR road hard and mine the one of ease? If I’m truly His daughter, why would He remain silent as their vain confidences seem to implicate the choices I am making? But, like the psalmist, I perceive their end and shut my mouth. Already I have given space to doubt, and the whispers are webbings of evil in my soul.
But I still find myself paused by the stile. Vile, I am.
I am thankful for the pilgrims that have set out before me, for their witness, their testimony, their warnings, their love for the Lord Jesus even unto death. My wrestlings are but peanuts compared to Christians facing the giants of despair rattling their chains even within earshot of the fence line. For thousands of years, the message has been, “You shall have no other gods. Walk the narrow road. Love your neighbor. Forgive. Walk with Me…”
His call is a fragrance that I cannot deny the reality of. I am reminded of all He has done in my life, all He is doing. I am reminded of spiritual victories, of times He has spoken directly to my heart. I am reminded that He is good, all the time. All the time. Always.
I need to remember this when rocks are in my shoes, and when those I love are gleefully running barefoot in the meadow across the stile, tempting me to forgo everything I have been taught of and by the Lord. I need to remember that trying to get back on the trail isn’t so easy in the dark should I (and doubtless would) change my mind later. And for what? All for their acceptance. All for a shared room in Doubting Castle. Because their love for me is so great? Nay, say I. Because their love of themselves is greater even than what ought to be God’s. I know this because to love God is to obey Him. And to obey Him is to stay on His road.
It is a sorrowful thing to turn from the stile, because in a way, I am saying, “No, it cannot be” to those I love. Their words sting. I wish I didn’t care. I wish they would come with me to the City, instead. I wish, too, that there were no more stiles down the road.
But I choose God, because He first chose me. And I will stay close to my shepherd. Lead on, Lord.