This Pilgrim’s Progress (Thank you, John Bunyan)
Now I see
what God was doing in me
while I was writing
the ordinary, not-to-exciting
things in this book.
He made me look
inside my heart,
so I could part
with every rotten thing
that was my king
instead of Him.
My love was dim.
My head was strong.
My witness wrong.
I tended to exaggerate
to make my story great;
then wonder if the lie
was something I could justify.
Righteousness for me
could be measured in degree
of work not done Sunday
for that was one day
set aside for God
in which to laud
Him with thanks and praise.
Work–we did on other days.
I would rationalize my sin,
getting ticketed again and again.
If I did something badly
I would nod my head sadly,
“In heaven when I’m not a debtor,
things will be better.”
I took comfort in the fact
there were others with lives more cracked.
I minimized my mistakes
turning oceans into lakes.
I buried my guilt like a bone
instead of looking to Jesus alone.
I said prayers to gain personal pleasure
and if the answers didn’t measure
down to my self-centred wishes
(I wanted fewer loaves and more fishes),
“Thanks to God” I wouldn’t say–
I held desire in my heart
for something meaningful to start:
birdwatching, maybe was the thing
or collecting 4,000 bells to ring.
Yet my love for God I would ration
while He longed to be my passion.
The fourth commandment figured big in my book
but the poor, the needy, I could overlook.
The Lord’s Supper was white, unnourishing bread
which symbolized Jesus dead
on the cross for unworthy me.
I really couldn’t see
the power I had in His victory
over sin and death and hell.
I had trouble, as well,
when I became 40 years of age
in getting beyond the Ecclesiastes’ sage
who lapsed into the futility
of human ingenuity.
When my house was invaded by ants,
I didn’t give prayer a chance.
When the store sent me a damaged refrigerator,
I didn’t understand the lesson until later:
a carnal Christian will choose what looks good;
a Spirit-led Christian will take what he should.
Leah became a grandmother in Jesus’ line
Jacob thought only Rachel as fine.
When I was plagued with an ache in the back,
promises to exercise I did not lack.
My good effort would fix the wrong,
I really didn’t need Jesus to be strong.
Then one spring I asked God to help me.
This became the life-changing key.
He led me into an hour spent with Him each day–
my carnal self could die this way.
He convicted me,
of Him, never ashamed to be.
I held Him in awe,
yet went by the letter of the law,
when I promised my daughter a toy
I chose one, not to bring joy,
but just to keep my word.
And when strange teaching I heard
from someone who Christian professed to be
I didn’t make an effort to help her see
Jesus had to be in the middle
or Christianity wasn’t worth a diddle.
Punishing my daughter brought pleasure–
What does that measure?
I’m proud to announce I love my lovely neighbour–
it means I’ve kept a commandment that’s major.
I still have such a long way to go.
This process seems so slow.
Yet now, when I direct my passion to the basketball net,
a desire to be passionate for Jesus I get.
I took for granted my earthly dad.
For him, love and respect I had,
but I hardly let him know!
My relationship with God was just so!
I wanted to witness to Carol,
I knew her life was in peril,
but, my words came out slack–
Holy Spirit power was in lack.
A Vineyard experience opened my heart,
the sinful ways must depart.
The Holy Spirit came upon me–
my life never the same to be.
I was a baby with surgeon’s tools.
I didn’t know the rules.
For all the preaching,
I had no teaching.
When the spiritual realm opened wide,
I was but a babe inside.
The warfare was serious.
I was delirious.
Jesus had to be my Lord
before I could wield the sword.
I got ticketed again,
and still justified my sin.
I was making guesses
at how to clean up others’ messes,
so God sent me a blessin’
with a garbage day lesson.
He also sent us a baby girl.
Now we were in a whirl–
Baptise this child?
Or do something wild
and let our church know our desire
believer baptism by immersion to require.
We were in a lurch,
but went with the church.
In Calvinist circles my views became less shareable
So I resorted to using the parable.
I talked about “Quaker” material, carpet-time and new wine,
Bible as direction sheet, angels as firemen fine.
In the parable of the membership card:
to “service engine soon” would be hard.
It would mean leaving our church, our friends...
everything on which social life depends,
and finding a place of membership
where we agreed with the leadership.
My dogmas were dying.
I was no longer buying
my old view that the Holy Spirit had changed,
that He had rearranged
He works today.
I began to know the facts
as in Acts:
He works then and now!
But, He won’t operate
if I don’t co-operate.
The Lord was showing us
we were creating a spiritual muss
by going outside our church for direction
and losing our spiritual protection.
So we left our loving church family
to go where we could accept the theology.
The race wasn’t done
but, now we could run.
As a head-Christian I thought I was doing fine;
now as a heart-Christian I knew I was out of line.
I had been a self-righteous, white-washed sepulchre,
until I realized Jesus, anointed with sweet-smelling myrrh,
seated at the right hand of my heavenly Father
washed me in blood, not just water.
I’m no longer a debtor;
He made me better.
In His righteousness I can stand
to do all He planned,
with power from on high,
but my old self has to die.
Now presenting spiritual truth
through my uncouth
is like filtering pure water through dusty dried weeds.
What makes me think
you want to drink?
If you must know
that the Spirit-led life is the way to go,
the Bible is the place
to stick your face.