It used to be so simple.
When we were young and used to play pilgrims, the journey was only as difficult as a trek from the cellar through the house up to the rooftop. The burdens were only as heavy as the bits of fabric filling them and Appolyon was just the neighbor’s dog. It was easy to let our burdens tumble down the stairs when we came to the cross and to face our worst enemy from an upstairs window. When we reached the rooftop the flowers and arbors and pretty things that awaited us were fine rewards for our efforts.
Our burdens are no longer made up of bits of fabric but they are just as real and even more crushing. They are made up of the cares of this world and its sinful desires. These burdens may be of a different sort, but the way to be free of them is the same. We must take them to the cross, kneel at Jesus’ feet and allow him to loosen their grip on our shoulders. Then we may watch them tumble far away into the bottomless abyss, never to be retrieved.
Our worst enemy is no longer the dog, but our fears. Rejection? Failure? However, we still face them from an upstairs window for “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”!
God lays out the path we are to take in our guidebook so simply. Just as simply as it was when we were young and tramped through our own house. But simple rarely means easy. When the journey gets hard, remember the wonderful truth that our reward is far greater than “flowers and arbors and pretty things”. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for GREAT is your reward in heaven”!
Inspired by this passage in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott which follows the reading of Father’s letter:
Mrs. March broke the silence…by saying in her cheery voice, “Do you remember how you used to play Pilgrim’s Progress when you were little things? Nothing delighted you more than to have me tie my piece-bags on your backs for burdens, give you hats and sticks and rolls of paper, and let you travel through the house from the cellar, which was the City of Destruction, up, up, to the housetop where you had all the lovely things you could collect to make a Celestial City.”
“What fun it was, especially going by the lions, fighting Apollyon, and passing though the valley where the hobgoblins were!” said Jo.
“I liked the place where the bundles fell off and tumbled downstairs,” said Meg.
“My favorite part was when we came out on the flat roof where our flowers and arbors and pretty things were, and all stood and sang for joy up there in the sunshine,” said Beth, smiling as if that pleasant moment had come back to her.
“I don’t remember much about it, except that I was afraid of the cellar and the dark entry and always liked the cake and milk we had at the top. If I wasn’t too old for such things, I’d rather like to play it over again,” said Amy…
“We never are too old for this, my dear, because it is a play we are playing all the time in one way or another. Ou burdens are here and our road is before us and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace that is the true Celestial City….”