An Application of Bunyan: Different Strokes

December 3, 2019 | by James M. Harrison

As Christian and Faithful continue their journey and their conversation, they compare notes, if you will, of their respective journeys.  As they do, one notices the very different journeys each have experienced. They have encountered different people, different trials, and different temptations.  Even the nature of the path they have travelled had differed greatly.  Christian’s path led him to a great and furious battle with Appolyon.  As for Faithful, after his encounter with Shame, he describes the rest of his journey as “Sunshine all the rest of the way…and also through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.” 

In God’s good providence, every pilgrim makes his own unique journey.  One’s journey may be straight, level, and pleasant, or perhaps it will be winding, hilly, and difficult.  The nature of our journey is determined by the Master.  He knows not only what sort of path we need, but also what sort of path will serve to accomplish that which He desires.

How can we not think of Jesus’ conversation with Peter at the end of the gospel of John?  As we read in John 21, after His resurrection, and while some of the disciples were fishing in the Sea of Galilee, Jesus appears upon the shore.  When they realized that it was He, Peter, not wanting to wait until they hauled their miraculous catch to shore, dove in and swam to Jesus.  When the others arrived they partook of the breakfast which Christ had prepared.

Afterward, Jesus and Peter engaged with in that wonderful conversation of restoration.  “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”, Jesus asked.  And Peter replied, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  Three times this question was asked and three times this question was answered, and each time, Jesus commissioned Peter to care for His sheep.

And then, having restored Peter to service, Jesus told him how he would glorify God in his martyrdom. Peter would be bound and taken where he did not want to go. This must have been a somber moment, indeed.  But even here, Peter could not help but to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.  As he and Jesus were speaking, Peter’s eyes rested upon John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved”, and seeing John, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”  To which Jesus replies, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?  You follow Me!”

It is interesting to observe how the heart works, isn’t it?  We love to compare ourselves with others.  We love to ask, “Why do they have what I don’t have?”  “Why does their life seem so blessed, when mine seems so hard?”  But have you noticed that our questions rarely go in the other direction?  “Why did he get cancer, when I’m healthy?”  “Why did they lose their child, while my family is safe and secure?”  “Why was that brother martyred, while I live in freedom and peace?”

Like Christian and Faithful, like Peter and John, Christ says to each of His followers, “I have a plan for you.  I have a path for you to walk which no one else will walk in quite the same way.  Don’t concern yourself with the path I have determined for others.  You simply follow Me.”

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