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Saying anything about a book like Pilgrim’s Progress is intimidating to say the least. Knowing that up until the current century (looking at you Harry Potter!) this book was 2nd only to the Bible in number of copies sold is enough to tell me that it is as close to a “must-read” as you can get. Nonetheless, I would venture to guess that the vast majority of my peers have not read the book, if they’ve even heard of it. Renown certainly doesn’t make a book great, but it should give you pause when something has been so received over so many centuries by the “Christian” world. There are bestsellers from a generation ago that have been left on the dustbins of history, but like any other classic, Pilgrim’s Progress remains deserving of attention.

But why? Why should a 350 year old book get any attention at all? And why one that is a relatively surface allegory of the Christian life, with imagery so obvious that you would have to be ignorant of the faith to not catch the illusions? For me the answer is - because it’s true. It captures in its heart the shared experience of billions of Christians over the centuries. When I read Christian’s journey, I see my own and it holds true. It also brings me hope as he approaches the destination and the the comfort of the Savior that I am headed in the same direction.

If I had to quibble with an undeniable legend, the one thing would be that throughout the story Christian is fighting to continue on in the journey - sometimes on his own and sometimes with the aid of a friend - but the whole time it feels as if he is so distant from the one who saved him and is drawing him home. Now, I understand that providence is at work and Christian will in fact make it, but there are times where there feels like a chasm between the Lord and Christian.

And maybe that’s just it - feels - which does hold true. There is no chasm. The Lord is near. We are not walking this journey alone, but we have the one who saved us going before us, walking with us, and serving as our rear guard. As the saying goes, “The Lord before me, the Lord beside me, the Lord behind me.” However, there is no denying that we often experience life in a way that feels like we are fighting to stay on the course, and the Lord feels quite distant. We have not lost hope and we do not doubt that he is our good sovereign, but are fighting nonetheless. The reminder we constantly need is that we are not alone, but he has sent a Helper, who dwells within us and guides. The Holy Spirit is Christ within us, bringing us along until we reach the City of God and behold our king face to face.