Have you ever read the classic, "Pilgrim's Progress"? This book, which is second only to the Bible in the number of copies sold, has influenced many many people since its creation in 1675. Certainly its life and relevance stems from its heavy dependence upon the Word of God. An allegory, we can see ourselves and others vividly as we read the pages of this John Bunyan book. Whether you are looking for a gift for a child or an adult, perhaps you will want to consider this book on your Christmas lists this year. The main character, Christian, flees his homeland, aptly named The City of Destruction, for the Celestial City. Along the way, Christian meets many people who impact his journey for good and for bad. As Christian faces people such as Mr. Legality, Worldly Wise-Man and all the folks at Vanity Fair, he sees material possessions, lust-filled temptations and human intellect exalted. He is not alone, however. Evangelist, Faithful and Hopeful are men he encounters who offer him direction, help and encouragement.
Having just finished the section of the book where Christian and Hopeful are trapped in the dungeon of Despair (a giant whose wife, Distrust, eggs him on to horrible torments of the captives), I was especially aware of how thankful I have been for encouraging friends in my life who give me hope and remind me Who my hope is in.
So, when we lit the first candle of our Advent wreath this week, and turned our focus upon HOPE, the timing couldn't have been better! What hope we have because of Christ coming to earth, fully God and fully man, to live obediently to the point of death on a cross. What hope we have because of King Jesus coming back again, claiming victory over all and making all things new. With Mary, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, we rejoice at the birth of Jesus; we know this supernatural event that we remember and celebrate this December 25 is all about hope, the hope we have now and for all eternity, because Jesus is our Salvation and Redeemer! And we look forward with hope to this glorious event:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelations 19: 11-16
In this allegory of life, what name would be written on you? There are days that my name would be called Vanity or Fearful or Lazy. But, ultimately, because God has chosen me as His own, I can be known as Hopeful, Redeemed, Valued and Made-New. Is this true of you as well? Do you know the hope that comes only from Jesus alone? What better time than now to seek this hope!