Monday, May 28, 2007

The Believer's Journey - a simple picture

Genesis 12:5 'and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came'.

What is the believer's destination?
The heavenly Canaan.

How does this journey begin?
The eyes of the soul are opened to see the wrath to come, to which they are heading but from which they must flee.

How are they turned away from this direction into the right way?
They are given faith which runs out after Christ as the only way to life and the city of refuge to whom they must flee. They are also given repentance which turns their back upon their sins, so that they longer walk according to the course of this world.

How do they begin in the journey?
They begin with a blessedness upon them and rejoicing and singing. The love of their espousals makes them are strong and active in setting out in the way and they lift up their feet.

How long is the journey?
Although some are only a short time in the wilderness, usually it is a long journey and they are often longing to be at their destination, looking for a better country and the city whose builder and maker is God.

What is the wilderness like through which they must pass?
It is not only a strange country but a waste howling wilderness, with no provision in it for their journey.

How do they get strength for this journey?
They have no strength of their own but with a sense of their own weakness they go up out of the wilderness of this world leaning upon the Beloved.

Is it an easy journey?
It is not a smooth but a narrow, hard and rugged way, they must labour to enter into that rest and it can be lonely because only a few travel on this path. Yet because it is the right way they acknowledge them to be ways of pleasantness and that all these paths are peace.

What holds back the believer in their journey?
Remaining sin still easily besets and entangles them, sometimes they are blinded by their old sins so that they cannot see afar off, and so their progress is hindered.

How does the believer deal with these hindrances?
The believer must be killing sin and so laying it aside. They will make no progress without defending themselves to the death against the sin that seeks their life. These are like the Amalekites that fought against the Israelites in the wilderness but the Lord is the banner of His people and through the Spirit they are able to overcome.

What adversities does the believer meet with in the land of Providence?
They meet with many storms, steep and stony, even perilous or else slippery places. In the darkest of valleys, however, they are never left to find their way alone. The heat of trials and temptations and the fierce storm of afflictions are often intense but they have an apple-tree under which they may rest and a hiding place from the wind, a covert from the tempest and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. All the adversities that they face however, work for their good and help them further in their journey and make them more earnest to reach their destination.
What sustains the believer in their journey?
The bread of life is given to them daily for the journey - there are also wells and pools of grace for them to drink of in the way. They often have the light and heat of the Sun of righteousness upon them. They are also upheld in their goings by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes their heart is so enlarged that they are enabled to run the way marked out for them. Then they have the statutes of God for their songs in the days of their pilgrimage.

What guides are given for the way?
Light and truth lead the way for the believer and goodness and mercy follow them for their help.

What is the general character of the believer's progress?
They go from strength to strength and their path is shining ever brighter unto the perfect day.

Is this always true of the believer?
Although this is the general character yet they can also grow weary and stumble in the way. They are perplexed but not in despair, cast down but not destroyed. When they slide back in their path, they are restored. Though they fall, they arise and though they may have difficulties they cannot go altogether out of the way.

How do they arrive in the heavenly Canaan?
Their journey ends in peace and they arrive in the heavenly Canaan with singing and everlasting joy.