By Elizabeth Prata
I pray you all had a blessed Resurrection Sunday service yesterday. Those services on Easter are especially sweet. We leave refreshed and fired up.
Now is the time to capture that fervor and those raised up feelings of endearment to Jesus and pursue! The Christian life is one of pursuit.
We pursue sin in ourselves so as to mortify it.
We pursue holiness, the holiness that Jesus has graced us with in His propitiation.
We pursue His ways, walking the straight street that led from the narrow gate that we entered at salvation.
We pursue His word so as to hide it in our heart and meditate on it daily
We pursue prayer.
We do not run from anything. We face trials, we face temptations, we face the road to sanctification ahead. As we read in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian faced Apollyon and was scared to death, but realized his armor was all in his front, there was nothing to cover his back!
But now, in this valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him: his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back, or to stand his ground. But he considered again, that he had no armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts; therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground: for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand. ~John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
Isn’t it interesting that the Christian life is one of so many active verbs. Pursue, run, walk, strive, stand. Nothing about retreat, sleep, or rest.
There is no such thing as long as we are alive as a coasting Christian, a resting Christian, a sleeping Christian. In The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian fell asleep at one point.
Now about the midway to the top of the hill was a pleasant Arbor, made by the Lord of the hill for the refreshment of weary travellers. Thither, therefore, Christian got, where also he sat down to rest him: then he pulled his roll out of his bosom, and read therein to his comfort; he also now began afresh to take a review of the coat or garment that was given to him as he stood by the cross. Thus pleasing himself awhile, he at last fell into a slumber, and thence into a fast sleep, which detained him in that place until it was almost night; and in his sleep his roll fell out of his hand. Now, as he was sleeping, there came one to him, and awaked him, saying, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” Prov. 6:6. And with that, Christian suddenly started up, and sped him on his way, and went apace till he came to the top of the hill.
The roll or scroll Christian has is representative of his assurance of salvation. The arbor on the Hill Difficulty is supposed to provide a respite, a short one, not a long one. At first, Christian does what weary travelers are supposed to do in the Arbor, catch his breath, pause for a moment, and reflect on God’s graces. But self-satisfied Christian falls asleep. The Arbor is not meant for lodging.
In this verse we see another of those verbs, ‘press on’.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).
Ken Puls’ Notes and Commentary on The Pilgrims Progress: “Earlier on the Hill Christian was running, going, or at least clambering, but now his inactivity and sloth give way to sleep until it is almost night. Jesus warns us“:
A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going (John 12:35).
By sleeping during a time when God had given him light that he might walk, Christian was guilty of presuming upon the grace of God and the Roll he so cherished fell out of his hand. He could not stay idly in one place, content with no more progress along the Way, and be assured that all was well with his soul.
Notice, however, that account of Christian’s failings also teaches us of God’s unending faithfulness and abiding love. Even as Christian lies sleeping, one comes and awakens him with wisdom from God’s Word:
Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise (Proverbs 6:6).
God is not content to leave His pilgrims in spiritual slumber and inactivity. His Word can be applied to the comfort and rest of our souls, but it can also come to warn us, arouse us and spur us to action. Christian hears the Proverb and realizes that now is not the time to sleep. He immediately arises and hurries up the Hill. End Ken Puls’ Notes and Commentary on The Pilgrim’s Progress
So, dear sister, pursue! Let the winds of refreshment from yesterday’s service propel you forward in our walk toward the Celestial City. We are content to walk, run, even clamber, but we must keep moving. Let the graces enjoyed yesterday at The Interpreter’s House (church) fill your soul with joy and awe for this life we have been given, here on earth and the one to come, forever and ever amen.