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Quotes to Ponder
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Up the Hill

This weekend we went hiking up a 2400 foot mountain called Pilot Mountain. It was a lot of fun and hard work. The hiking trail, called Grindstone Trail, was accurately described as "moderate to strenuous". Even though I was recovering from four weeks of being sick, I was determined to reach the top.

The hike reminded me of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress when he climbed the hill called Difficulty. Yesterday, I looked up this part in three different versions of the wonderful Christian story. (Note: I read all three versions because I enjoy seeing the differences and similarities that authors bring to the same story. I think you might as well.) In John Bunyan's original The Pilgrim's Progress, he writes ...

I believe then that they all went on till they came to the foot of an hill, at the bottom of which was a spring. There was also in the same place two other ways besides that which came straight from the gate; one turned to the left hand, and the other to the right, at the bottom of the hill; but the narrow way lay right up the hill (and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called Difficulty). Christian now went to the spring and drank thereof to refresh himself, and then began to go up the hill, saying,

This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let's neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.

... I looked then after Christian to see him go up the hill, where I perceived he fell from running to going [Walking or walking at an ordinary pace], and from going to clambering upon his hands and his knees, because of the steepness of the place.

In the version called John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, retold by Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by Barry Moser, it says ...

Ahead, the path narrowed. It grew steeper and steeper as it climbed into a mountain called Difficulty. The three men could see that it wound far above the tree line, and that whoever climbed it would be dangerously exposed. Christian stuffed the parchment into his shirt and began to climb.

... Though Chrisian started up the mountain briskly, he soon found that his legs were growing weaker and his knees tired. At times he would clamber over rough rocks, buffeted by the cold winds that fell down off the mountain. Soon most of the trees were gone, and though the sunlight shone on him, it gave no warmth.

Before long the path was merely the least rough place in a blasted mountainside. Much of the way Christian crawled, but often he had to haul himself up rocks that had almost no foothold. Twice he had to leap over wide chasms, and once he had to shimmy along a hedge no wider that his foot. If it had not been for the promises in his Roll, he might have given up and returned to the broad roads.

And, finally, I read Helen L. Taylor's account in her version for children called Little Pilgrim's Progress ...

Presently they all came to the foot of the hill called Difficulty. The Way of the King led over the hill. It was very rough and very steep, but little Christian knew that he must not turn away from it. A spring of cool water was flowing just by the wayside, so, as he was very thirsty, he took a refreshing drink and then began to climb the rocky path.

... Little Christian found the path up the hillside a very hard one. It was covered with rough stones and sharp pieces of rock, which hurt his feet, and it became steeper and steeper as he went on, until at last he was obliged to creep along on his hands and knees. The sun was now shining very brightly for it was the middle of the day, and its rays fell upon little Christian and made him feel hot and tired.

In the above quotes I skipped over an interesting part of the story. Christian approaches the hill with two men called Formalist and Hypocrisy. They take the other paths which appear to be safer and easier. These paths are called Danger and Destruction and the two men are never heard from again.

When we were climbing our path up the mountain, we came to a fork in the trail. The blue markers we had been following were nowhere to be seen. There was a white marker one way and nothing the other way. We took the no marker route which looked easier and appeared to point in the direction of the top of the mountain. About a half mile later, we stopped. It was obvious we were going steadily down when we should be climbing up. This time we looked at the simple trail map and used our compass to figure out we were going in the wrong direction. We turned around to huff & puff our embarrassed way back to the right path.

Once on the right trail, it was hard work, but a good feeling knowing we were going in the right direction. The trail was so steep & rocky at times that I had to use my hands to grab on to the rocks for balance. As we got higher, I was swallowing hard so that my ears adjusted to the higher elevation. When we reached the top, my throat was dry (water had been used up), my breathing was hard, my prayers were for mercy, and my face was firetruck red. But we had reached the top and my arms were raised up in the air for victory! It felt good!

As I looked out at the beautiful view from 2400 feet, I was once again in awe of our amazing God and thankful that He had led me along the trail called Grindstone to the top of one of His magnificent mountains.

Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. - Psalm 119:35

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. - Habakkuk 3:19

[T]he word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. - Luke 3:2b-6

September 29, 1998
1998 by Kathy Ridpath
Please ask for permission to reprint this article, ridpath@chfweb.com. Thank you!


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The Pilgrim's Progress
by John Bunyan
This was the first Christian allegory I ever read. I love this classic story and recommend it highly. -- Kathy Ridpath
Mass Market Paperback (0.95 x 6.91 x 4.21): *Order Now!*
Library Binding (hardcover): *Order Now!*

John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress
as retold by Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by Barry Moser
Mr. Schmidt retells Christian's journey in a way that lets you experience how he himself was impacted through John Bunyan's classic story. Mr. Moser's illustrations are haunting and beautiful, from the huge pack that Christian carries to the sheerness & rockiness of Difficulty to the hideous Apollyon. -- Kathy Ridpath
Hardcover: *Order Now!*

Little Pilgrim's Progress
by Helen L Taylor
This is a great version for children to read (ages 9-12 is the range given) or for a read-aloud. The language is more understandable than the original version and geared towards younger children. -- Kathy Ridpath
Paperback: *Order Now!*


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