I dedicate Wednesdays largely to homeschoolers and homemakers. I’d like to take a moment to highlight the neglected part of Pilgrim’s Progress which is called Part 2 in Bunyan’s book. Christiana is Christian’s wife who did not go with him on his Christian pilgrimage until after his going to the Celestial City. It has set in now that she should have and she and her children go on to take up their cross to follow the Lord in their own time and way. The allegory is a great lesson to be read especially by women, to perhaps encourage them not to delay long in having their own faith and leading their children in the same.
A few observations from the beginning of the book:
First, Christiana and her four boys come to faith in Christ differently than Pilgrim. They have no burden except they did not follow their husband sooner in the faith. Speaking to women who have godly husbands, it will be a great regret to any who delay in following good men who follow Jesus.
“ Then said she to her children, Sons, we are all undone. I have sinned away your father, and he is gone: he would have had us with him, but I would not go myself: I also have hindered you of life. With that the boys fell into tears, and cried out to go after their father. Oh, said Christiana, that it had been but our lot to go with him! then had it fared well with us, beyond what it is like to do now. For, though I formerly foolishly imagined, concerning the troubles of your father, that they proceeded of a foolish fancy that he had, or for that he was overrun with melancholy humors; yet now it will not out of my mind, but that they sprang from another cause; to wit, for that the light of life was given him, James 1:23-25; John 8:12; by the help of which, as I perceive, he has escaped the snares of death. Prov. 14:27. Then they all wept again, and cried out, Oh, woe worth the day!”
Second, and thankfully there is even grace for the failure to follow quickly, and peace comes to the wife here who realizes her mistake and looks to God late.
“ Next morning, when she was up, had prayed to God, and talked with her children a while, one knocked hard at the door; to whom she spake out, saying, “If thou comest in God’s name, come in.” So he said, “Amen;” and opened the door, and saluted her with, “Peace be to this house.” The which when he had done, he said, “Christiana, knowest thou wherefore I am come?” Then she blushed and trembled; also her heart began to wax warm with desires to know from whence he came, and what was his errand to her. So he said unto her, “My name is Secret; I dwell with those that are on high. It is talked of where I dwell as if thou hadst a desire to go thither: also there is a report that thou art aware of the evil thou hast formerly done to thy husband, in hardening of thy heart against his way, and in keeping of these babes in their ignorance. Christiana, the Merciful One has sent me to tell thee, that he is a God ready to forgive, and that he taketh delight to multiply the pardon of offences. He also would have thee to know, that he inviteth thee to come into his presence, to his table, and that he will feed thee with the fat of his house, and with the heritage of Jacob thy father.
“There is Christian, thy husband that was, with legions more, his companions, ever beholding that face that doth minister life to beholders; and they will all be glad when they shall hear the sound of thy feet step over thy Father’s threshold.””
Third, Christiana, the wife and mother still had to take her own journey, she and her children. The bitter must come before the sweet before all. We must all enter the kingdom through many tribulations. She must not merely follow her husband, but Christ, for herself! Her husband was but a gift to show her the way. So, whether alive or having gone on, husbands are responsible to leave a legacy of faith for their families. This comes by us following Christ so they can see what it means to follow Christ. Christiana and her children will go through the same places Pilgrim did in the journey, but not without being informed, making in some way their way much easier than his.
“Christiana at this was greatly abashed in herself, and bowed her head to the ground. This visitor proceeded, and said, “Christiana, here is also a letter for thee, which I have brought from thy husband’s King.” So she took it, and opened it, but it smelt after the manner of the best perfume. Song 1:3. Also it was written in letters of gold. The contents of the letter were these, That the King would have her to do as did Christian her husband; for that was the way to come to his city, and to dwell in his presence with joy for ever. At this the good woman was quite overcome; so she cried out to her visitor, Sir, will you carry me and my children with you, that we also may go and worship the King?
Then said the visitor, Christiana, the bitter is before the sweet. Thou must through troubles, as did he that went before thee, enter this Celestial City. Wherefore I advise thee to do as did Christian thy husband: go to the Wicket-gate yonder, over the plain, for that stands at the head of the way up which thou must go; and I wish thee all good speed. Also I advise that thou put this letter in thy bosom, that thou read therein to thyself and to thy children until you have got it by heart; for it is one of the songs that thou must sing while thou art in this house of thy pilgrimage, Psalm 119:54; also this thou must deliver in at the further gate.”
So, there you have it for today, that Christiana’s pilgrimage is worth some thought to avoid regret, to enjoy grace to go forward, and to give thanks for some who give direction to their wives or have left a legacy on how to follow Jesus.