[Updated from original post of January 20, 2013]
In the Christian classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan talks about the restful arbor which awaits Christian on his journey to the Celestial City.
In times of struggle in my life I have clung to this illustration and looked forward to the R&R God will provide in order to prepare me for the next leg of my walk with him. When I am discouraged and spiritually footsore, the image of a fragrant arbor, with a comfy bench where I may sit in the blessed shade and be cooled by heavenly breezes strengthens me to carry on.
To the weary, the concept of rest is irresistible. But rest is one of those words, like hot and cold or light and dark, which only has meaning when contrasted with its opposite. If there were no work or struggle there could be no rest.The restful arbor is not meant to be a retirement home. The Christian life on this earth is one of constantly striving for greater obedience, greater faith and a closer walk with our Savior. Only when we see him face to face will our journey to perfect peace be complete.
Christians are currently enduring a time of struggle and difficulty and our Lord is certain to provide restful arbors along our path. We must heed the lesson in The Pilgrim’s Progress when Christian lingered too long, sleeping in the arbor and losing track of his roll containing God’s word.
God provides the restful arbors of life for rest, reflection and rejuvenation. If you have been taking up residence in one, perhaps it is time to get a new attitude and use it to sweep away unproductive anger, hurt, regrets and grief.
If we want to reach the Celestial City it is necessary to leave the shady arbor and step out again into the sunshine.