Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pilgrim's Progress

The boys have started school, and they are facing new challenges daily.  One of the new classes for Mason this year is a Literature class taught by FTO volunteer, Katie Batchelor.  She is leading the 10th graders through Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and the 7th and 8th graders are working through Robinson Crusoe.  Miss Batchelor doesn't leave time for dilly-dallying so Mason will complete the original version of Pilgrim's Progress within three weeks!  (What high school requires such rigorous reading of their students?  Miss Batchelor cracks the whip - Whoowee!  For anyone who has not attempted reading it in the Old English, it is not an easy read!  Miss Batchelor expects a lot of her students.  Oh my goodness!)

One of Miss Batchelor's assignments for the students was for them to write a letter to one of the characters presenting the Gospel message to them.  The letter needed to address the weaknesses of the character on his/her journey to the Celestial City.  John Bunyan's work is an allegorical tale of our Christian walk with Christ.  His characters represent all of our natural tendencies and weaknesses when faced with the temptation of sin.  The main character, Christian, travels toward the Celestial City meeting many characters who try to derail him off the path.

The character, Pliable, begins his journey by traveling with his friend, Obstinate, to bring Christian back to his home - The City of Destruction.  However, after meeting Christian, Pliable decides to travel with him toward the Celestial City away from the City of Destruction.  As he begins traveling with Christian, he seems strong with fortitude to travel.  Pliable seems to desire to follow Christian all the way.  In the beginning, Pliable even leaves his friend, Obstinate, to follow Christian.  However, Pliable falls away when he enters the Slough of Despond.  He returns to the City of Destruction and faces ridicule for following Christian and then being unfaithful.

Pliable's story reminds me of so many people who have once followed Christ.  Pliable leaves the faith when circumstances become difficult.  He turns back to sin instead of turning away and continuing on the difficult journey with Christ.  

So, that's why I wanted to share Mason's assignment with all of you.  His letter to Pliable spoke to me and I hope it will speak to you too.  Here is Mason's letter of Truth to Pliable.  Mason even writes as John Bunyan did when he first penned the words in 1678.  It's amazing that my 15 year old can challenge his mother through a simple assignment for school...

Dear Pliable, 

How excited you were at the beginning of your journey, but you are as one of the seeds that fell along the rocky soil from Matthew 13.  "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth."  

You began with much excitement and passion, but when we entered the Slough of Despond all of your faith quickly died.  While the road to the Celestial City may be challenging in some places, we must, "Look not at what is seen, but what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:18.

Do not lose hope; look at the eternal glory you may obtain, and be glad.  The Lord always forgives.  Even I on my journey have done something much the same as your fault.  A certain Mr. Worldly-Wiseman came to me and told me that I could be rid of my burden on a much shorter and easier path.  I took this path, but when I arrived thither, I found the place one that would only take me to death.  Therefore, I cried out to the Lord, and along came dear Evangelist.  He set me on the right path and said, "Yet will the man at the gate receive you."

I now beg you, dear Pliable, to turn aside from your wicked ways and come home to glory.  Even though, "the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life."  (Matthew 7:14).  The good Lord also says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:30).  Embark then, dear Pliable, and know that "He is the way, the truth and the life.  No one goes to the Father except through Him."  (John 14:6).

Your Companion, 

Within five minutes of writing this post, a friend emailed me the following verses.  How fitting...  May we all continue on as Christian toward the Celestial City...

If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, 
they would have had opportunity to return.
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. 

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, 
for he has prepared for them a city. 
Hebrews 11:15-16

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