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Week 5 April 2024, Impromptu Devotion

On November 9, 2014, I finished writing the Foreword to the completed revision of my    book of devotions, noting on the front cover that it offered “Daily Grace and Truth from the Treasury of God’s Word.”  It was so wordy I should have called it Preface instead, but would have missed out on some unexpected amusement. In every single future correspondence relating to it, each writer would call it “Forward.”  That’s email lingo, of course, but I stuck to Foreword because it had a slightly classier ring to it. That may explain the letter sent years earlier by snail mail, that accused me of a writing style so “classy” – that  it simply wasn’t marketable to modern readers. No wonder I discovered in John Bunyan a kindred spirit, who suffered worse insults added to his injuries. The Church of England imprisoned him for 12 years for preaching without a license, citing his lack of formal education. In reality, his chief offense was his over-abundance of evangelical zeal.  I used to wonder who the women were that David mentioned in Psalm 68:11, “The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host.”  Thanks to the man with what I happily call “sanctified stubbornness,” I met some of them in England, prior to the 1678 publication of The Pilgrim’s Progress.  I salute them to this day!

While working as a traveling “tinker” who mended pots and pans for a living, Bunyan spent much time in kitchens where he overheard conversations by women openly in love with God and His Word.  Their joy was so infectious that John Bunyan caught it and resolved to share it in writing.  While in prison, he made shoe laces to support his family, and wrote several books.  His unconventional allegorical tale was published 6 years after his release. This takes us to his Apologia, his poetic defense for “outing” it.

“Thus I set Pen to Paper with delight, And quickly had my thoughts in black and white, For having now my Method by the end, Still as I pull’d, it came; and so I penn’d it down: until it came at last to be For length and breath, the bigness which you see.  Well, when I had thus put mine ends together, I shew’d them to others, that I might see whether They would condemn them, or them justify.  And some said, let them live; some, let them die; Some said, John print it; others said, Not so.  Some said, it might do good, others said, No.  Now was I in a straight, and did not see Which was the best thing to be done by me:  At last I thought, Since ye are thus divided, I print it will, and so the case decided.”   At the end of his foreword, John added one more poem: “This Book is writ in such a Dialect, As may the minds of listless men affect:  It seems a Novelty, and yet contains Nothing but sound and honest Gospel-strains.”

My book, self-published in February 2015, required at least another 2 years of hassles with Xulon and Amazon to finally come up with the “sound” version I strained to obtain. If my joy in the Lord and His Word are infectious enough to light a fire under a few “modern readers,” I shall assign all glory to God – and flash each one an “arresting” smile in honor of that tinkering “jailbird” who made melody, while caged as Christ’s captive of His stubbornly persistent grace.   If Hebrews 11 were revised today, it would list Bunyan and say, “Though dead, yet he still speaks.”


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