Augustine and Bunyan both present good ideas that have made me look at my redemptive story in a different light. These ideas have made me look back even more on my life and see how God has been at work since the very beginning. In the points that the two authors make, they reflect on God and what he has done in their lives, yet it seems like God is doing or has done that very same in my life.
One of the first ideas that stood out to me was found at the very end of Book 1 of St. Augustines Confessions. Book I closes with a very brief list of Augustine’s selfish sins as a little boy, which he claims were “shocking even to the worldly set.” He sees these as smaller, less significant versions of the sins of a worldly adult life. He admits, however, that there were some good things about him as well. These, though, were due entirely to God. The sins, on the other hand, were due to a “misdirection” of Augustine’s gifts away from God and toward the material, created world. This made me think of my own life as a child, and how I sinned very often, yet thought nothing of it. Now as I get older, I take my sin so much more seriously because I understand it more. It makes me realize that God knew my gifts already while I was a child. Although I was innocent as a child though, I still sinned. I have come to realize that sinning as a child was crucial to my growth in the Lord. It made me realize my faults and change them.
The idea that really struck me the most from Augustine’s book was found in book IV. He wrote this shortly after a close friend of his suddenly passed away, leaving him grief-stricken: “everything on which I set my gaze was death.” Realizing now that his grief would have been alleviated by faith in God, Augustine concludes that his grief meant he had “become to myself a vast problem.” Attached to the transient, embodied things of the world (rather than to God), he suffered grief when they disappeared. “I didn’t know this at the time, but I loved lower beautiful creatures, and I was going down into the very depths, (Augustine, 106).” This explains everything that I went through last year. I lost nine important people in my life to death. As I look back on it now, I know that God was strengthening my faith and making me realize that I need to depend on Him and not on people. I didn’t know it then, but God was not punishing me, He was just teaching me. Everything that Augustine talks about in Book four is so true and is what I felt as I grieved and as I still do grieve.
The last idea of Augustine that helped me look at my redemptive story was found in Book VII. Augustine is writing about knowing God. Augustine begins by making a point of his progress toward God at the time. He had removed all doubt “that there is an indestructible substance from which comes all substance,” and recognized that God was a spiritual substance with no spatial extension. “My desire,” he writes, “was not to be more certain of you but to be more stable in you, (Augustine, 189).” This quote was right on target with what I am feeling. As I have grown in my Christian walk, my desire has been to be stable in God, not to be “wishy-washy”. I wasn’t so worried as to if there really was a God, I was more concerned about being with God and having him be pleased with me. That is my hearts cry even today, I want to become stable with God. I want to be steadfast in his will.
Bunyan presents some good ideas in his book as well about my redemptive story. On the way to the Wicket Gate, Pliable and Christian fall into a pit called the Slough of Despond. It is a swamp full of slime and mud, and the two struggle to get free of it. Pliable is totally discouraged by this event, deciding that Christian’s expectations are not worth the troubles they have encountered. He gives up and leaves Christian alone to head to the Wicket Gate. “Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect twixt this and our journey’s end? (Bunyan, 7).” At this point on their journey, Pliable is sick and tired of trying and trying and getting nowhere. He doesn’t know what Christian is talking about and he decides to give up. I have been at this point many times in my Christian walk. I feel so tired from trying and trying and getting nowhere. I feel like I am running in circles. However, every time I begin to feel this, God reveals Himself more to me and gives me more motivation and encouragement to complete the race. I am so glad that I have never given up, like Pliable did. God has always been there to pick me up and make me keep going, that is what has kept my Christian walk alive.
The other point that Bunyan presented that really spoke of my redemptive story was when Christian encounters Mr. Worldly Wise. Christian’s meeting with Mr. Worldly Wise is interesting because of its ambiguity. Mr. Worldy Wise is not a villain or even a bad character. In fact, he is a good solid man with advice and friendliness. He thinks the village of Morality will be a good place for Christian, since he can bring his family and live in relative comfort. However, Christian is not supposed to settle for good; he is to aim for the best. His moment of weakness is a sin because he nearly gives up the goal the Evangelist has given him. Morality, while comfortable, will never completely ease him of his burdens in the way that the Celestial City will. “But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many danger attend it? Especially since I could direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that thou in this was wilt run thyself into? (Bunyan, 11).” This also has been a common place in my Christian walk. I come to a place where I am find comfort, and I never want to leave it even if it might cost a higher understand of Christ. There are so many temptations and comfort is one of them. As long as I feel comfortable and satisfied, I make myself believe that everything is okay and I do not need to strive for anything else. During these times though, God seems to give me motivation to go higher. It is hard though, when I feel comfortable and do not feel like moving.
Bunyan and Augustine make some relevant points in their books regarding my redemptive story. Their stories relate to the Christian walk in so many ways. Reading these books has made me become more aware of my redemptive story and how fortunate I am to have Christ in my life. Temptation, sin and deceit can all stand in the way of our relationship with God, yet He always seems to pull us through those evil ways.