I just finished reading a wonderful condensed version of Pilgrim's Progress by Gary D. Schmidt. Rachel had recently read it as part of her assigned reading at her school. When she was done reading it, she said, "Mom, you would love this book. You really should read it." She was right. I could hardly put it down.
I really think it's something every Christian should read every few years. A great reality check of which city we might be stuck in or who we are currently taking advice from along this path of life.
The thing I loved while I read it were the notes Rachel had written in the margins as she read through it. Here were a few examples:
As Christian is leaving the City of Destruction, two people (Obstinate and Pliable) urge Christian to return to the City of Destruction. Christian encourages them to come away with him to the Celestial City. Obstinate jeers, "And leave our comforts?" Pliable scoffs, "And our friends?" Rachel writes in the margin, "missionary calling". I had tears as I read this. The Lord is calling my children too and it is by God's grace that they are hearing His voice and following.
The various characters that Christian meets along the way to the Celestial City are so interesting to me. One is Mr. Worldly-Wise -- at which point Rachel wrote this in the margin, "He's making Christian think that he could be happy in the world, but there is eternity to think about."
As Christian enters the Valley of the Shadow of Death he says, "But if this is the only way to the Celestial City, what choice do we have but to go through it?" Rachel writes, "But if God has called us to do it for his glory, what choice do we have but to fulfill his will?"
And then there are the wonderful characters Christian meets along the way....a man named Help who takes Christian's hand and helps him when fear has overwhelmed Christian in the mud and bog water. Rachel writes, "there will be trials that will test our faith." And then the wonderful friend, Faithful, who travels with Christian into the town of Vanity Fair. I sometimes still find the town of Vanity Fair enamoring me here on the eastside.
As I read, I couldn't help but think of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ who are walking alongside of us and cheering us on as we journey to Sacred Road. Sometimes my feet stumble. Sometimes I question if we can really do this. Sometimes my eyes get shifted off of the Celestial City. Just when that happens, someone grabs my hand, whispers a word of encouragement, and helps me secure my footing back to the Celestial City. It is truly a blessing.
I'm not sure I've ever read the full version of Pilgrim's Progress, but this version was perfect and once again, a lovely, timely example as the Lord spoke to me through it.
Thank you to everyone who has come alongside of our family. You represent the characters Faithful, Helpful, Hopeful. Your love for the Lord shines brightly. Thank you for your continued prayers, words of encouragement and financial partnership.
Psalm 118:23 "This is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes."