Today I am happy to share a guest blog below written by Vicki Joy Anderson. She has written a poetry book, The Weary Wayfarer; A Pilgrim’s Progress Retold in Rhyme. The poem is 1,678 stanzas (in homage to the year the book was first published) and contains the entire unabridged volume in iambic pentameter stanzas.
A Guest Blog by Vicki Joy Anderson
I spent the last two years meticulously rewriting The Pilgrim’s Progress into a poem. It was a labor of love. I often asked myself as I was writing, “Why does this archaic tome still have an audience in the modern world?” Indeed, it breaks every current rule of authorship and would likely get a pass from every major publisher today. And yet, here we are, three-hundred and thirty-nine years after its first publication and the book has never once been out of print. Why?
The fight of faith is a lonely venture.
In a world full of mega churches and Facebook friends, this fact is often forgotten; but try as we might to flood ourselves beneath a flurry of fellowship and fun–faith is a feat of solitude. Christian does manage to find two good friends along the way–Hopeful and Faithful. Two friends? This must seem foreign, if not sad, to a modern audience. But Christian’s lonesome journey—though it may fail to connect with the modern mind—finds its mark in every human soul. Because no matter how many friends we have, there is that realization, deep down, that despite the enormity of the Church, Christianity is still, and always will be, a lonesome venture.
I remember as a teenager going to my mom, crying, and confessing that I was lonely because it was difficult to find Christian friends at my large, public high school. She told me something I have never forgotten. She compared following Christ to going to the beach. If you just wanted to get your toes wet with Christ, you could lay out on the hot sand, enjoy the sun on your face, and listen to the laughter of hundreds of other people all around you. But if you truly wanted Him–all of Him–he was the buried treasure on the floor of the ocean. To get to that treasure, you would have to leave all of the comforts of the sun and sand and laughter and venture out alone into the sea. The deeper you swam, the darker and colder it would become. The pressure of the water would become difficult to swim against. And the two or three friends who may have started out on the venture with you are now long gone. “What do you want?” she concluded. “The sunshine or the treasure?”
When life is good and the kids are healthy and the bills are getting paid, there is no end to the friends, fellowship, and fun. But for any of you who have suffered a long season of sorrow, you have come to learn what Christian knew, and that is that the modern-day Church, like the world around it, has a very short attention span. Christ alone has the ability to long-suffer with us through every second of grief and every hour of loss–even when those seconds and hours turn into years and then decades. Christ is not preoccupied with His own pain or bored by our broken-record repetitions. He is not agitated by our anger or reproachful of our raw emotion. Christ knows deep sorrow. When wrapped in flesh, He wrestled against agony, loss, and rejection. His empathy is an endless well of strength for us to draw from in seasons of suffering. His grace is sufficient. He could stop there–with Himself. But oftentimes, He does not. He knows our weaknesses, that we are made of dust. And so, like Christian, He gives us a couple of faithful companions along the way, a House Beautiful for a season of respite, and a scroll in our bosom to remind us of our reward.
How is it that three-and-a-half centuries later, modern believers can read of Christian’s plight and feel akin to this lonely man? Perhaps it is because there, buried beneath the barrage of busyness, we too are that lonely man. Christian found hope and respite along his weary path and so will we. Press on, fellow saints! Our goal is the Wicket-gate! Our goal is the treasure on the ocean floor. Our goal is Christ alone.
Please click here for a poem excerpt taken from Chapter 1 of The Weary Wayfarer; A Pilgrim’s Progress Retold in Rhyme by Vicki Joy Anderson.