(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)
At a time I was going through a particularly painful period in my own inner healing, I read John Bunyon's classic allegory Pilgrim's Progress. Near the end of book one, the pilgrim, Christian, must cross the river (death) to enter into the celestial city. He's terrified, cries out, and wants to turn back. One of his companions says, "You must go through, or you cannot come into the gate."
Christian's other companion, Hopeful, stays with him and urges him on, telling him that even though it seems as if he might drown, he won't. "Be of good cheer, my brother; I feel the bottom, and it is good," he says. Because of Hopeful, Christian makes it to the other side safely. When he gets there, he realizes he was not in any real danger, but that fear had made him want to turn back.
I understood. I had been at the place of despair. I hurt. As I daily opened myself to those painful memories of childhood I wanted to give up. I prayed, "God, is it worth the pain?" Some days I didn't feel I could keep going.
That section of Bunyon's book gave me courage to keep going. I felt as if God whispered, "Don't give up. Keep going forward." I stayed with the pain and I discovered, as Bunyon's character did, that it was solid on the bottom and I wouldn't drown.
London: Thomas Nelson, undated, p.165.