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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Out of the ashes




What amazes me is how I am always motivated to write a blog post on a day that is already full to overflowing with things that must be done...today...right now...time is of the essence!

I like to think it's part of God's sense of humor...to remind me Who really is in control here...and to trust Him that if I do what He wants, when He wants, He'll be faithful to meet my needs. So, chicken coop cleaning, planting, pickle making, etc...you're in God's hands now!

Instead of my normal devotions this morning, I picked up the Pilgrim's Progress book that we are using for our group study tomorrow night, thinking that by doing this, with all I have to do today, I could easily kill two birds with one stone. Such can be my fickle thinking when I am busy!

But once again, God had the last laugh because writing this blog will take way more time than it would have for me to read both the devotional and the book!

So, let me ask you, have you ever wondered if your life is in vain? Not that you are ungrateful for your life, or you want it to end, but that sometimes it can be so hard to remain faithful in a time or situation that doesn't seem to be changing?

Or, maybe you're not seeing the purpose to your trials...

Or the fruit of your faithfulness...

And you're growing weary...and thinking it may not be worth it...and maybe it's time to QUIT.

If so, the following excerpt from Pilgrim's Progress is just for you! This classic was written in 1678...it is the epic story of a man from the city of Destruction who undertakes a pilgrimage to the Celestial City and all that he encounters on the way...



"Now in my dream I watched Christian press forward on his journey but not alone. For now he was joined by another pilgrim by the name of Hopeful. (He was so named after watching Christian and Faithful and how they behaved and what they said.) Hopeful joined Christian, and the two of them entered into brotherly covenant and agreed to be companions because of the testimony to the truth Hopeful had witnessed at the Fair. For Faithful died to make a testimony to the truth and another, by the name of Hopeful, arose from his ashes to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage. 
This Hopeful also told Christian, that there were many more of the men in the fair 
who would follow him after some time."

In this passage, Christian had just escaped Vanity Fair with his life, though his traveling companion, Faithful, was martyred there. 

It appeared that all they had endured for Truth and Righteousness sake during their time at the Fair...the mockery, the misunderstanding, the persecution, the pain, and finally the death of Faithful...was in vain.

Chapter Six ends with Faithful being taken up to Heaven, and Christian...

"...found relief during this agonizing situation when he was sent back to prison. He remained for a time, but He who overrules all things, having the power of their rage in His own hand, worked things out in such a way that Christian, after that time, was set free and allowed to continue on his way."

 And thus Chapter Seven begins...

"Now in my dream I watched Christian press forward on his journey but not alone. For now he was joined by another pilgrim by the name of Hopeful. (He was so named after watching Christian and Faithful and how they behaved and what they said.) Hopeful joined Christian, and the two of them entered into brotherly covenant and agreed to be companions because of the testimony to the truth Hopeful had witnessed at the Fair. For Faithful died to make a testimony to the truth and another, by the name of Hopeful, arose from his ashes to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage."

God did have a purpose! And though neither Christian nor Faithful could see the outcome of their sufferings, there was one...

And his name was Hopeful...He was the reward of their faithfulness! 

How could they have known they were being watched? When we are in pain, our world narrows. 

How could they have known  that their words and actions would be embraced by another in the crowd for eternity's sake?

And how can we know now who is watching us...needing us to be Faithful when the going gets tough...

When we don't see results...

When we're exhausted and we can't find our way home to rest...

When the fruit of our labors just isn't materializing...and for that matter, we're not even seeing buds!

"Don't be weary in doing well, for in due season we WILL reap if we don't faint!"

God's Word tells us that not only do we have people around us watching us, but we also have a great cloud of witnesses in Heaven that have tread the same earthly path we are on...who are encouraging us to keep on going...not to quit...who tell us that we can't see it now, but it will be worth it all!

One of the greatest gifts we can embrace during this earthly life...that God gives us...is a traveling companion who offers us Hope.

Christian left Vanity Fair after much agony, but then he was given Hopeful...the fruit of his suffering...to encourage him to go on.

We have this same gift in our lives.

It comes in the form of His Word...

In a crowd of cheer leading friends and family...

In our being renewed day by day, hour by hour, to trust that God IS at work in whatever we are facing, and that He WILL work all things together for good not only in our lives, but also in the lives of those around us. They are there for a reason!

So keep on keeping on, dear one. We do not travel alone. And we have a destination. And a God who has promised to get us there...

Even though if, like Christian and Faithful and Hopeful, it is through many dangers, toils and snares.

It will be worth it all!




Oh, and if you have the time, read Pilgrim's Progress...it still speaks loudly today.

But do choose the modern translation...unless you are into King James language!