Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 7:14 – But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. (NLT)
My sister-in-law, Sharon, and I enjoy getting together for a weekly visit over coffee. Sharon has also written several PresbyCan devotionals, and one day over coffee we were discussing one of her recent devotionals entitled Watch Where You Are Going . In it, she referred to John Bunyan's classic, Pilgrim's Progress. I have read this timeless allegorical tale before, but our conversation motivated me to read it again, though this time, instead of reading the book, I listened to it in a recorded version.
As is usually the case when I reread material, I noticed things in the story this time that I hadn't particularly noted before. Pilgrim, a Christian who has entered the Gate of Salvation, is journeying the narrow road to the Celestial City. Bunyan cleverly gives self-descriptive names to places and characters in his story, so that we can usually determine which are good and which are bad. It is clear that the Slough of Despond, Doubting Castle, Vanity Fair, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death are all places that will cause Pilgrim difficulty along the way. We know that Apollyon and the Giant Despair will be his arch enemies.
Pilgrim's difficulties and enemies sometimes come in subtly appealing forms, however. A soft, grassy path alongside the narrow, rough road leads him astray. A peaceful, shady arbour lulls him to sleep. Pliable and Fair-speech try to get him to turn back.
We can learn, as Pilgrim does, that steadfastness and faithfulness are required to complete life's journey successfully. We may be on high alert for obvious hindrances to our Christian walk, but we must also be wary of people and things that seem to be innocuous, though they are, in reality, potentially dangerous.
We face daily choices, and whereas choices between right and wrong or good and evil may seem to be clear, things aren't always that black and white. We are often faced with choices that would seem to be good but which may not be good in the long run.
What seemingly innocent or harmless things do we need to watch out for, lest they weaken our life of faith?
Matthew 10:16 – I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as serpents and harmless as doves. (TLB)
Who do we need to be discerning about, lest we be led astray by their teachings or advice?
2 Corinthians 11:14b-15a – Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. (NIV)
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, we need much strength and wisdom as we face life's journey. Help us to be alert to dangers around us that would cause us to stumble in our walk of faith. Give us needed discernment in avoiding appealing temptations. Amen.