You may have heard the story about a pilgrim who carried a burden on his back and came from the City of Destruction. He was given a very special book by Evangelist. Once he read the book he heard about a King who would help him on the journey to the Celestial City. He heard about all this King had done for him on the cross.
If he could get there the King would take these burdens off his back. He had his best friend Faithful go with him on this journey. He met Hopeful along the way. He got lost from time to time when the World tried to lead him astray. Yet in all of his travels, the King was always with him. Christian was his name. Pilgrim’s Progress was his story. John Bunyan wrote it for all of us in 1668 when he was in prison.
“Pilgrim’s Progress” came into my life when I needed it most. These kinds of stories usually do. When we have been beaten, broken, lost, and forgotten. We go looking for a place to belong. We go looking for a place to make us feel understood. I had given myself to the Lord as a child. Yet countless times I still felt like I was carrying around these burdens. I felt the judgment of so-called Christians and no shelter from the churches. I felt no fellowship with other Christians. It felt like they were all living a life that looked nothing like mine, and maybe their snide remarks about my destiny with hell were right. Did God really love me? Had He really accepted me? Was I even on the right path? If I was why did every church tell me I hadn’t done enough? I could never be enough or do enough for God. I had to build empires of gold and silver. I had to accomplish all these “good works” to buy my way to Heaven.
The time came when I needed some answers. I was 13-years-old when I found “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. I cried through the entire book. It all made sense to me. I gave myself to Jesus again and asked him to come into my heart. I wanted to be a good pilgrim. I wanted to go on this journey with God. I wanted to go down this path and be covered with the armor of Salvation. I knew that no matter what came at me along the way Jesus was always going to be there. No one ever said being a pilgrim is easy. It is a very hard and long road. It comes with trials and tribulations. It comes with suffering. It comes with heartache and sorrow.
I have denied the world and had the world reject me over and over. I have longed for a home and place to call my own that cannot be found here. I am always searching and longing for something that cannot be found here. A pilgrim is a deeply spiritual connection with the King that sheds the world. The pilgrim knows that there is no place for them in this strange land. They know the world will seek to destroy them. Fear not for Jesus overcame the world. Pilgrim’s Progress reminds us on the Christian Walk why we are to remain diligent and true. We must continue to the very end of this journey. Our time will come when we get to go home. When Jesus will put his arms around us and say well done good and faithful servant. We will know Jesus was with us the whole time.
If you feel like you are completely alone on this path that is wrong. There are many pilgrims who came before you, after you, and beside you. We are all on this path together. We can reach out and help one another. We don’t have to go on this walk alone. We don’t need to fight the battles alone. We don’t need to keep picking up the burdens and piling them back on our backs. We left them at the foot of the cross a long time ago. Jesus already paid for all of that with his blood. Some of us pilgrims have been trained that we can’t be forgiven for anything, so we must carry our burdens forever. We need to carry them and all the ones the world heaps on besides. Remember when Christian made it to the cross and the King tore the burdens off his back? Remember how relief flooded his soul? Remember how you felt when you came to the cross and Jesus tore those burdens off you? Stop!!! You don’t need to pick them up every single day and keep carrying them around. You don’t need to keep going to the cross and leaving sacrifices. We are done with that part of the journey. It is time to move on. We are now in the part where we focus on the Celestial City.
Jesus bought and paid for your sins past, present, and future on that cross. Once you ask him to come into your heart and believe he is your personal Savior you are free. YOU are FREE. No more burdens to carry. This doesn’t mean there won’t be trials or suffering. There will be plenty of trials and suffering. Sin will still want you back as its slave and human punching bag. You don’t need to participate, but you will be tempted. You will get lost in fogs of doubt. The enemy will still try to sling arrows at you.
The good news will be your guide. The gospel of Jesus that set you free. The Bible is the lamp to your feet. You can use that Word of God to help you when you stumble on the path. It will be the only guide you need as a pilgrim. It has everything you need to help you grow just like Christian. Every time he got turned around, lost, left the path, couldn’t hear the King, or felt alone he would go to the Bible. The Bible is your map on the journey. Use it wisely pilgrims.
The best part of the story is knowing that no matter how much the world tried to hurt you, beat you, break you, destroy you, and shame you because it failed. It failed to ruin you, pilgrims. In the end, all that matters is that you make it cross that living water. You get to go home. An eternal living sheltering place with the King who has prepared a place for you in His Kingdom. He will hold you in his loving embrace on that final day. He will wipe the tears from your face. He will smile at you, the one he knew before you were in your mother’s womb, the one he created a good work in to complete, the one with purpose, the one who traveled that long and narrow path, the one who stuck to the journey and say well done good and faithful servant. Well done. I was with you the whole time. I never forsake you. From your first cry I knew you. You are beautifully and wonderfully made.