[I am so excited to publish my first guest post. Jeannie Prinsen
has been providing marvelous insights in her comments here at the train wreck, and now we get to read this excellent article filled with more insights on God’s truth. Please join me in warmly welcoming her here with us today.]
When I was young I used to read a comic strip called “Prince Valiant.” I don’t remember any of the story line now, but I thought the Prince was very attractive with his pageboy haircut. I also liked his name: while for boys of my era “Valiant” probably meant a car, I liked the connotations of bravery, sacrifice, and fortitude.
John Bunyan wrote a hymn about being valiant: a call to Christian pilgrims to follow Jesus through whatever challenges and temptations life might bring:
Who would true valour see? Let him come hither.
One here will constant be, come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him ’round with dismal stories
do but themselves confound — his strength the more is.
No lion can him fright; he’ll with a giant fight!
But he will have a right to be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend can daunt his spirit:
he knows he at the end shall life inherit.
Let fancies flee away! He’ll fear not what men say.
He’ll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.
I can imagine Prince Valiant or King David or Aragorn doing acts of valour like fighting lions, giants, and hobgoblins. But not me. I’m pretty conservative. I hate extreme sports. I hate extreme anything. I like to read, write, and watch Jane Austen movies. The kind of valour Bunyan is talking about is for the superstar types, right?
Actually, no. The 2nd verse of the poem refers to the Christian beset by “dismal stories.” I wonder what those could be…
God could never love you.
God is disappointed with you.
Compared to other Christians you are pretty pathetic.
You’ve wandered so far away you can never get back.
You don’t have enough faith; that’s why all this is happening.
You call yourself a Christian, yet you feel/say/think THAT?
Maybe the act of saying No to these “dismal stories” is actually one example of the kind of valour Bunyan is talking about. When we read Scriptures like John 5:24 (“The one who hears my word, and believes in Him who sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation”) or Jeremiah 31:3 (“I have loved you with an everlasting love”), we may actually be taking up weapons against an even more insidious enemy than giants or goblins.
Maybe valour isn’t just for the superstar types — the handsome princes with nice hair or the beautiful princesses who seem to have it all together. Maybe it’s for all of us ordinary people too, for whom believing in God’s constant love is a daily act of courage.