This done and after these things had been somewhat digested by Christiana and her company, the Interpreter takes them apart again, and has them first into a room where was a Man that could look no way but downwards, with a Muck-rake in his had. There stood also one over his head with a Celestial Crown in his hand, and proffered him that Crown for his Muck-rake; but the man did neither look up, nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and dust of the floor.
Then said Christiana I persuade myself that I know something of the meaning of this; for this is a figure of a Mon of this World, is it not, good Sir?
Thou hast said the right, said he, and his Muck-rake doth shew his carnal mind. And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up straws and sicks and the dust of the floor,than to what he ways that calls to him from above with the celestial crown in his hand, it is to shew that Heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now whereas it was also shewed thee that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let thee know that earthly things when they are with power upon men's minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.
Then said Christiana, O deliver me from this Muck-rake.
That prayer, said the Interpreter, has lain by till 'tis almost rusty. Give me not Riches, is scarcely the prayer of one of then thousand. Straws and sticks and dust with most are the great things now looked after.
With that Mercy and Christiana wept, and said, it is alas! too true.
***** Pilgrim's Progress- John Bunyan
The story seems even sadder when I think about the idea that I've accepted the offering of the "celestial crown" but I'm still clinging to my stinking muck rake! This week's sermon was over Colossians 3:5-11 where we are instructed to put to death the ways of our previous selves. I think that nothing makes my mind spin in circles quite as much as the confusion over the idea that God has redeemed us, but that our lives still feel broken. We're instructed to stop sinning, but don't feel equipped to do so. We've been offered the unattainable gift of salvation, but haven't had the desire removed from us to collect the sticks and dirt of this world that amount to anger and fear and pain. But one thing is for sure, my feelings are liars. Any woman can be quite confidant of this fact. I think that a fun-house effect makes us feel like we're trapped, but in fact it's just a hologram that we can walk right through. But if you've ever been in a quality "fun" house, that's much more frightening than it sounds.
My sticks, and straw, and dust make me feel grounded in my unsure circumstances. I have convinced myself so solidly that I can't actually succeed in walking away from the anger, fear, and selfishness, that I'm almost comforted by them. They make me right. I like to be right. I've told myself I'll always be angry, so my anger affirms my allknowingness. SICK! I've been offered relief from my burdens, but I'd rather haul them around myself, for fear of floating away when I'm rid of them. Isn't this insanity? New Year's resolution #5,688- Live out the redemption that's already been given.
With the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as pallbearers for my muck-rake, I think that I may actually be able to "make a corpse" out of the sins that I so enjoy clinging to.
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
I know that the struggle can sound disheartening, and like more than a person would want to sign up for. But the hope and the relief in the assurance that this life is the temporary one, and that the one after this is free from the frustration caused by our sin, is elating. Nothing comforts me more than knowing that in spite of all my quirks, and unlovable personality traits, Christ has nullified my sin and made me perfect and presentable to a holy and unapproachable God. All I had to do was ask to be delivered from my muck-rake. Letting go of it is the hard part.