Being a follower of Christ is not an automatic daily trek. There are elements of discipline to it and there are routines that help to build healthy habits once they are firmly embedded in life. For all that, though, because this is a journey and an ongoing progress there is always something to challenge us and make us think about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.
It is another superb Sabbath evening, though it be raining outside, and I’m grateful to God for so many wonderful blessings over another challenging week.
Today I was at the Beacon House of Prayer, a place to which I regularly take a group of people from the YMCA to explore faith in a bit more detail or just to relax and find some peaceful, prayerful, meditative experiences. There is an angel at the Beacon who faithfully every Friday gives me a bag of fruit. Today she gave TWO bags of fruit to me! Ode to joy. Now you may recall, if you’ve read your bible, there’s the episode where the spies go into the promised land to check it out and come back with some large bounty. Well, let me tell you, the grapes in today’s bag of fruit was perhaps as big as the bounty they brought! My goodness they were large grapes for which I am truly grapeful, as are the rest of my people who will share in the bounty!
Anyway, as I sit enjoying the Sabbath evening in the knowledge that my family are likewise chilling in various parts of the home, I’m watching a television adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress called Dangerous Journey. It looks like it was produced quite a while ago by Yorkshire Television, but it’s a fascinating watch. I’m on about the third episode where Christian meets Formalist and Hypocrisy.
Now I’m aware that one of the standards of a true believer that as well as the Bible, you’re meant to have read Pilgrim’s Progress. Alas I have not read it. I think my dad had a copy at home, but I don’t recall ever picking it up. Indeed I’ve never even picked it up to see if I wanted to read, let alone read it. So although I’ve heard references to it and the like, this is the first time I’ve actually tackled the book, even if it’s a television adaptation, that I’m watching on YouTube (now talk about crossing the media over the years). Now by television adaptation it is one of those illustrated stories with a narrator talking over the pictures. It still makes for good viewing.
Watching it reminds me of some of the challenges I’ve experienced today. In the story so far, what’s apparent is that Christian’s journey only continues when he’s reminded of his motivation – why he is doing what he is doing. I find it really difficult to motivate myself sometimes. Indeed, to be fair, often on my life’s journey self-motivation has been a huge issue. It has not been too encouraging to be reminded of this weakness in none too constructive a manner, which can be the tactic of some. On reflection, however, with no desire to appear to have cracked the subject, there has been clear indication that there have been a number of victories in the department. So as I grapple with the motivation issue, I am reminded of the key to success in these struggles.
That key is simple, remember Christ. Now that in itself is a fairly monumental piece of advice, because it is the equivalent to remember the Encyclopaedia Britannica times infinity. Not just the miraculous birth, the parables, the miracles, the teaching, the agony, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension and promised return, but even more – His very character, His role in the Old Testament, His role in the post apostolic era.
Thinking about Him as my motivation does not get rid of the circumstances that affected me in the first place. Indeed in some cases those circumstances persist and become at times rather more aggravating. What the focus does, however, is remind me of the journey that I am on and the goal that I seek, the One whom I profess to love and devote my life. Sometimes even stopping and engaging in some of the information about who He is can actually make thankful for the trouble in the first place, because it gave such an opportunity to be reminded of such a great Saviour.
I remember seeing some people spoof the acting profession and say a phrase to the director ‘where’s my motivation’. It’s not always apparent in the middle of trying times and difficult decisions, but my motivation remains ever present, always reminding me that He intends to stay that way to the very end. That He is all my sufficiency and as long as I keep my eyes on Him and my mind stayed on Him, then progress will be made for this pilgrim.
For His Name's Sake