Pilgrim Pleasure 1

Follow Pilgrim in his discovery of forbidden pleasure. And just maybe you will see something of your own journey over the years. For, as we shall see, pleasure has a power of its own that Pilgrims should treat with care……

Pilgrim paused at the junction and considered what lay before him. His “Do Right” trail had thrown up many hurdles, yet he always found sufficient resolve to cross them all.

The trail stretched before him, austere and narrow, straight toward dark, thankless mountains. Foreboding echoed from every crag. It was a Pilgrim’s lot to scale such heights and grow by doing so. Pilgrim’s shoulders slumped at the thought of what awaited him ahead.

pilgrims progress

To the left, down a short path spread a lush and leafy pasture, where the sun shed mottled patches through leafy trees. The path was marked, “Please Yourself”, and pleaded to his weary senses.

The Path to Pleasure

“I was warned of such a path”, he spoke to himself. Yet he paused and longed for the relief so near.

Even though Pilgrim kept away from self-indulgence he had enjoyed life so far. Overcoming a daunting obstacle, bringing joy to others, helping his friends and doing right all brought a reward that nourished him.

But at times he just longed for the freedom to do as he pleased. And now, as he thought, the meadow was so close. “Surely I could suffer no harm to pause for a moment.” Without further word he eased his load from aching shoulders and moved tentatively toward the inviting pasture.

Falling into the soft grass brought celebration to his senses. Muscles rested as a smile came to his lips. Surely this could not be bad, since the Lord Himself commended rest.

Breezes swept sweet scents to his nostrils and birds chirped happy music to his ears.

Sleep came readily in the sweet comforts of the meadow.

Call to Return

He woke to the cries of a friend. A companion he oft walked with called him back to the trail. “You are not to go to such a place.”

“It’s fine. I suffer no harm. Come, see for yourself.”

The companion stood firm, so the pilgrim rolled in the grass to show how harmless the meadow was. “Come. See for yourself!” As the companion remained resolute the pilgrim laughed at him.

“This is great fun. And it makes me feel so good.”

“But you are not supposed to be there. Now hurry up and get back on track. Others are coming and they will see you.”

With that the pilgrim returned to the “Do Right” trail, looking longingly back to the meadow.

Temptation

The “Please Yourself” path crossed the trail many times and each time it did the pilgrim was drawn to it. His companion did not notice the various delights laid up close to the trail, and did not seem to care even when they were pointed out. But the pilgrim felt a new ache for them.

His short pause in the pasture remained with him and pulled at him in ways he could not explain. If he had been alone he would gladly have sampled more of the treats he saw along the way.

Finally he discovered a case for venturing to the “Please Yourself” path again. Since that path kept intersecting with the “Do Right” trail, there was clearly no harm in taking it as an alternative route, at least for a good part of the journey. Since he had resolved to go the right way and “Do Right” there could be no harm if he were to enjoy himself while doing so.

When his companion needed rest, pilgrim decided to press ahead, hoping to find the pleasure path while alone and free to explore it without censure.

As You Please

When pilgrim came again to the “Please Yourself” path there was a man standing at the intersection. Pilgrim was eager to see what pleasures the path afforded, but held back, unsure of this new acquaintance.

“I see you like my path”, the stranger spoke.

“Is this path yours?” Pilgrim enquired.

“Yes. And it’s a fine path too.” The stranger watched Pilgrim’s eyes.

“Do you mind if I use your path?”

“Please yourself.” They both laughed at that witty answer.

“Well, should I go to the left or the right?” “As you please.” The stranger smiled.

“Can I stay close to the “Do Right” trail?” “If you wish.”

“Can I still be a pilgrim?” “If that’s what you wish.”

“Are there no rules, then?” “Yes. That you ‘Please Yourself’. There is nothing else you need worry about.”

Please Yourself

If life could be divided into two kingdoms they would have to be the Kingdom of “Do Right” and the Kingdom of “Please Yourself”. While enjoying life is by no means a bad thing, the issue is a matter of heart intention.

When you set out to do what is right your heart operates under a moral imperative, in the fear of God, recognising that you are not here for yourself, but to fulfil the purposes for which God, your Creator, placed you here. That becomes your joy, and joy is much richer than “pleasure”.

When you set out to please yourself your heart has chosen to elevate self above God. You love pleasure more than God (2Timothy 3:4). Moral responsibility takes second place and you see every situation, challenge and relationship as something to exploit for personal benefit.

Moral responsibility leads to self-sacrifice, self-discipline, character, inner strength, resolve, authority, moral might, leadership, ability to bless others, social fabric and security, and God’s grace on lives and communities.

Selfishness leads to irresponsibility, abuse of others, indulgence, moral weakness, exploitation, vulnerability, lack of care for others, and God’s wrath upon lives and communities.

Choose Your Way

We each choose our way. We either walk the way of life, or of death. Western culture advertises the merits of “Please Yourself” as if it is the only logical choice. We are told to “Just Do It!” and “If it feels good, Do It!” We are encouraged to have our way, do our own thing, and insist on our personally crafted notion of what is best for us.

God calls us to fear God, love Him, obey Him and glorify Him. As we do that we receive blessings that are beyond anything our natural senses can deliver.

I call you to choose “Life”! Choose the way of holiness in the fear of God. So you can truly enjoy the life in your hand.

The next lesson follows Pilgrim into his adventure, exploring the pleasures his heart craves.

Ghost Driver 3

It took fifteen years for the two to meet again. He was now a middle aged man, running a business and raising a family. Walking home from a meeting, with his wife at his side, he saw the familiar carriage approaching from the distance.

The carriage showed signs of a hard life. It had traversed many miles, at break-neck speed, and crashed its way through many a barrier in its time. The mad drivers did not care for maintenance or for the welfare of the passengers, just that they vent their passion with full force and let fly their energies at a whim.

The carriage creaked its way toward the man and wife as they walked the dusty road. Finally it stopped just short of them. They saw the reins drop from the hands of the invisible driver. The door opened and a woman stepped out.

We Meet Again

The man approached slowly.

She was still beautiful to behold, but up close her face was painted and her eyes hard. She cast her scorning gaze upon the man and back to the wife waiting at a distance. The wife, plain in the way of country women, was no match for her own arrogant beauty and crafted image and appeal. The air was crisp in the silence of their meeting.

“You have not changed”, he said. “Thank you”, she oozed as she turned her cheek toward him.

“I mean, you have not become free.” She scowled at him with angry eyes.

“I see you have settled for second best”, she said with contempt as she glared at the wife, dressed in plain linen and face browned by the sun.

“Freedom is always better than slavery”, he said simply. “Ha!” She scorned.

Meet the Next Generation

Then another person stepped from the carriage. The woman’s baby had grown to a lovely young lady and looked even more beautiful than her mother ever had.

“This is the man I told you of”, mother said to her girl. “I’m very pleased to meet you”. The girl spoke with sincerity. The man nodded.

The girl then stepped past him and went to greet the wife standing at a distance.

“She is beautiful, isn’t she?” The woman urged.

“It is a tragedy she must endure your fate.” He spoke honestly, not as one taunting another.

Mutual Contempt

“You know nothing of life and its wonders. You have not seen what I have seen or been where I have been. You have strangled your life in this dull valley, with a woman who knows nothing of how to really live!”

“And what do you have to show for your wild adventures?” He asked.

She pointed her chin toward her lovely daughter. “Every man we meet wishes he was passenger with us. We are the envy of the whole world.”

“Yet your husband never returned for your life of wild abandon.” At this she turned her head and snorted.

What is Freedom?

“I have the freedom to go as I will and do as I please!” She declared.

“You have no freedom at all. You are a slave to every passion you ever yielded to. You have been trampled by every thing you thought would enrich you.”

She snarled at him. The hardness in her eyes and on her face made her beauty brittle. She had the beauty of an image painted on glass. There was no softness or life in it. His own wife, much more modest in demeanour and tempered in nature, did not have the hardened beauty of this painted woman, but she had a genuine radiance that was deeper than beauty, which glowed from the very depths of her being.

“I am not trapped by your civilities, laws and expectations. People know to let me have my head and to step out of my way. I am free to do what you would never allow yourself to do!”

“Yet you have no power to say ‘No’ to your own enslaving impulses. Not only must people get out of your way, but you, too, must rush with the impulse that throws you this way and that.”

She stared him down in defiance, unable to think what else to throw at him.

“I am free to say ‘No’ to you. Your husband was free to walk away. But you are the sorriest slave of all, for you cannot get free, even from yourself!”

The Appeal

As this exchange took its course the young lass spoke quietly to the plain wife with the sun-browned skin. She had longed for his moment for many years and even anticipated such a conversation.

“Is it true you can free us from this curse?” The woman squeezed her hand and nodded. “Yes, and we’d love to help you.”

“I’m afraid mother will never let me be free while she is still alive, but one day…”, she paused to gain courage for what she wanted to say. “One day I will come this way again and ask you to help me.”

“We will be here waiting. I promise.”

Ghost Drivers Take Charge Again

Suddenly a raucous “Cumalongnow!” growled from unseen voices and the horses reared up ready for a charge.

The woman stepped toward the carriage, head held high and rage in her sparkling eyes. She had sought the man out to mock him, but now he had stood his ground and everything within her whirled in a torrent of contempt and rage.

But the daughter gripped the wife’s hand with all her might. Invisible cords pulled relentlessly at the young body, tearing her back to the waiting vehicle. “Cum! Cum!” the mad voices demanded.

In an instant the daughter was pulled inside with her mother and whisked away in a fury of stamping hooves.

Two faces looked back through the swirling dust. One bore mocking defiance and the stubborn insistence of her own self-will. The other looked longingly for the day they would meet again and the road to freedom would be traversed.

Generational Curse

Have you trapped your children into a life controlled by your Ghost Drivers? Are you raising the next generation to the same slavery which has dogged your life?

Or have you broken the curses passed down from generations, so your own descendents can live in true freedom?

The Ghost Drivers are linked to your self-will. If you will to be a slave they will gladly fulfil your wish. If you will to be free, then you must use your will to humble yourself before God and allow Him to set you free.

True freedom awaits you. True beauty of soul is waiting to be seen from within you.

Come free today, through the finished work of the Cross of Christ.

To read the earlier instalments in this important story of slavery and freedom click the following links:

Part One: http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/ghost-driver

Part Two: http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/ghost-driver-2

Ghost Driver Allegory

This allegory is an attempt to open up a subject for your consideration. Often matters of our heart and inner life are hard to describe. I like to create language, pictures and allegory that open up our understanding of internal processes and empower us to take some leadership in our own lives.

I trust that this allegorical effort does that for you.

This is Part One of a story to illustrate what can happen in people’s lives, when they come under the power of unseen forces that function as a driver in their life.

The Beautiful Girl

The young man noticed her at once. She was beautiful to his eyes, so he watched her from a distance. The coach stood still in the market and the lovely young lady hung out the window drinking in the sounds and senses of the bustling crowd.

As she stepped out onto the pavement the young man hurried to greet her. She smiled and he stammered to make meaningful conversation. Both were delighted by the meeting. She was just passing through and he hardly caught her name before the coach driver called his “Cumalongnow” cry and she stepped onto the running board.

As the coach began to move she swung herself into the coach and waved to him from the window. As he waved back he saw there was no driver steering the horses, yet the whip cracked and the carriage sped away. The boy ran after them, crying for the carriage to stop, but it passed out of sight, with the young lady waving still.

Second Meeting

Two full years passed before he saw her again. It was early morning and the village streets had hardly sprung to life. The coach was there again. He walked quickly to it and peered through the window. She was there, resting. He tapped and caught her attention. She quickly sprang out to meet him, smiling broadly. It was the same chemistry they had enjoyed on their first meeting.

They had barely gotten past a few pleasantries when the “Cumalongnow” made her step back into the carriage. The young man only had eyes for her sparkling smile, but something tugged at his attention. As the coach moved away he recalled the missing driver from their first meeting and glancing to the front of the coach he again saw that there was no-one holding the reins. He ran after the coach and shouted, “There’s no driver!” She simply smiled and waved back as the coach gained speed and moved away.

From then on he always kept an eye to the road, in case she should pass that way again. It was a full two years again before they met once more. He was riding a country track when he came upon the coach. The young lady was sitting in the pasture as the horses took their rest.

Explanation

His fascination for her was now cautioned by his questions. They stood silently for a time before he spoke.

“There is no driver”, he said simply. She nodded.

“How can that be?” She shrugged.

“So, what do you do?” He was totally lost for understanding.

She kept her eyes on the grass as she answered. “When he cries, I get aboard.” And that was all she said.

“But where is he taking you?”

She held her reply for an intolerable time, then said, “They take me where they will.”

“There is more than one?” He was incredulous. “Who are they?”

She turned away. When she looked back toward him she could see he was resolute upon an answer.

Naming the Drivers

“One is called Ambition. Another is Rage.” He kept his gaze fixed upon her.

“Then there is Jealousy. Greed takes his turn. There are others.”

He stood stock still, unsatisfied.

“They take the reins and drive me where they will and I must stay on board. One time I am driven by rage, then by ambition, other times by self-justification. At any moment one of them can jump to the lead and dash me off in a hasty venture.”

“Where do they come from?”

“My mother and father had them before me. As a child I was carried about in this coach until it became normal for me to live under such unexpected and inexplicable whim. The ghosts have owned me since childhood. I am their pawn.”

“Then come away with me. I will ride you far from this coach and these demented masters.”

“But it will not work. They have power over me. If you try to take me away I will be torn apart, since each of them owns a handful of my being.”

A Proposal

She reached out her hand to him. “But you can come with me in the coach. We can be happy together, no matter where these riders take us.”

It was a delightful prospect, but the young man was held in check by his fear of the unseen drivers.

“I do not want to spend my life in uncertainty of the whim of Ghost Drivers. While I am delighted to be with you, I do not want to become a slave to your ghosts.”

“But my parents made a life in such a coach as this.” Her eyes appealed to him.

“No”, he said finally. “I will not be slave to another man’s masters.”

With that a multiple of voices cried, “Cumalongnow!” and she dashed into the carriage as it began to move away. Rage was almost visible as he cracked the whip. Defiance shook his fist at the man left standing. Pride lifted his head and looked away. Spite spat in his direction.

A lovely face looked back toward him, without expression, except the resignation of a slave.

Do You Recognise This?

Do you know people whose lives are upset at times by uncontrolled urges, impulses, reactions, obsessions, distractions, ventures, exploits, rages, campaigns, and the like?

Most of us have come under the power of some “Ghost Driver” or other. We are vulnerable to distraction or disruption when something triggers some internal switch and sets us off on an almost uncontrollable direction.

I have seen people spoil a social event because of their obsessive need to justify themselves, gain respect, clear up a misunderstanding, prove their worth, and so on. Romantic moments in marriages have been turned into arguments. Business ventures have come unglued. Friendships, committees, fellowships and events have all been impacted at times by someone or other whose “Ghost Driver” called “Cumalongnow” and pulled them off on some unfortunate process.

What is Going on?

I guess you’d like to know what this Ghost Driver process is all about. So that’s what we’ll look at as the story continues. The story of this young man and woman does go a little further, so keep an eye out for the next instalment of the Ghost Driver Story.

Honouring the Pine Tree

There was once a lovely valley filled with pine trees, deep in the forest. Magnificent trunks reached from the valley floor and spread their glorious boughs in elegant grace such as eye rarely saw. In fact the valley was so beautiful that people from around the world made the difficult trip to be able to photograph this amazing sight.

But there was a problem with the valley. While all the trees in the valley, whether large or small, were of the most perfect shape and richest colour, creating mottled shades of green as they swept from one side to the other, there was one ugly tree which spoiled every vantage point.

Where the valley reached its height, just below the mountain ridge that circled it, there was a rocky outcrop. Suspended at the edge of those rocks, and hanging on precariously, was a runty and withered little tree which hardly ever had leaves. Its distorted trunk, if that is what you could call its short and twisted stump, was dried and poorly nourished. There was little water among those rocks and this ugly little excuse for a tree had never been more than an insult to all the others below it. Word had it that this tree had only ever produced one pine cone in its entire life.

The other trees often spoke in ugly tones about the runty bit of wood suspended above their glorious valley. They knew that the stunted tree insulted their kind and had to be the ugliest pine tree that had ever grown.

One day when the master Forester came by, the beautiful pine trees complained to him about the ugly tree.

“Why did you let such an ugly tree grow above our beautiful valley? We do not want that ugly tree there at all. We wish he had never even existed.”

“Is that your wish? The Forester asked. “Yes. Yes!” The trees answered.

“Well then”, said the Forester, “I can make it just as if that tree had never taken root. Would you like that?”

“Oh yes!” They rejoiced.

“Fine. I shall start cutting you down today.”

The trees were shocked. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, if that tree did not exist, then none of you would be here either. So I will have to cut you down.”

All the trees began to quake in horror and pulled their branches back from the Forester.

“Let me tell you what happened” the Forester continued.

“Many, many years ago there was a terrible fire that scorched this entire land. It killed all the trees as far as the eye could see. Every tree was burned to ash and this valley looked black and terrible. Only one tree could survive the inferno. It was just a tender shoot at the time, born with one small root pushing into a crack between huge boulders, high above the fire.

“I watched over that tiny plant and encouraged it to survive, but it was desperately lonely and afraid. There was little water and so it could not grow. Instead it twisted this way and that as it stretched to see the sun and to feel a few drops of rain on its face.

“After many years and many struggles that stunted little pine tree came to full growth. But its full height was less than your young plants here in the valley. With just one branch that lonely tree produced just one pine cone, on just one season, in all its many years above the valley.

“When the pine cone was ripe, the tree tossed it down into the valley below and pleaded with me to make sure that the seeds would grow. He so longed to have other pine trees to talk to and he knew it was his destiny to start that new generation.

“The one pine cone, thrown into the valley so many years ago, produced a few new trees, which produced many seeds to produce more and then more beautiful pines. So that first single pine cone led to every one of you trees that now stand so tall and grand. And it’s all thanks to that one lonely old pine tree who did the little bit he could.

All the trees turned and looked up to that stunted trunk at the top of their valley. They were silent. They had despised that old gnarled survivor, when they owed him their very life. One of the tallest and most beautiful trees leaned over as close as he could to that ancient old pine, and whispered, “Thanks.”

With that a whisper went through all the branches in the valley. “Thanks! Thankyou! Forgive me. Good job!” and “Praise God that you were there for us all!”

The old tree smiled a wrinkled smile of embarrassment. He didn’t want attention, but he did appreciate being given the honour that he was due. He shrank back toward the rocks and went on enjoying the view of all he had achieved in his limited and struggling life.

From that time on, when ever photographers came to the valley, the trees would pull their lovely branches out of the way to make sure every photo caught a glimpse of the twisted old tree at the top of the valley. And as people stood in the cool shade of the pine they often thought they could hear a whisper in the breeze that flowed up the valley to the rocky crags above. The whisper sounded like, “Thanks”.

The Song, an Allegory

I try to teach the chant from time to time. I always sing it and share it around.

It’s just a chant. Quite tuneless, especially from my lips. It just drones its weary course, like the muddy depths of an ancient river.

When enthusiasm flares and I press men to try my tune, they look at me, suspicious. Only the polite accede. But soon they too find reason to be off, leaving me to my lonely tuneless tune.

I shan’t blame them. I was unimpressed at first. And beyond that, too…..

“We shall sing.” he had announced. “Song shall bind us together.”

And so he made us sing. He sang as if the dirge were a gift from heaven. Our voices barely heard, he made us sing again and again.

The several instruments amid his piles of stuff spoke of his love for music. But we had come for other things. Lessons to redeem our future.

The song displaced many a class, to our great dismay. Moon upon new moon greeted a dwindling band, as mutinous murmurs whispered anger at the song, until but half remained.

This fool sang, with nowhere to flee and soul suborned by force of another’s will. So I sang on.

My voice, unskilled for worthy use, droned on this doleful dirge until its notes oozed from my every pore.

Other lessons long forgot, this song still invades my waking thought. Insidious and strong its cords control my every move. I am slave to the song.

In time but a handful remained. A handful of handsome voices drilled and strengthened by aeons with the chorus. Powerful voices, agile and clear. To those faithful voices the song was given.

Arrogant souls were long away. Untamed hearts had run their restless retreat to lesser things. Fools had found yet other fools to follow. And a handful remained to sing.

And so the song began. To one he gave a harmony, simple and safe. To another a stuttering stagger that stumbled along the dirge which my humble voice held firm. And so the voices met in blend.

I cried the first time; my doleful dirge undergirding such happy collision of chorus. And we discovered the truth, that “Song shall bind us together.”

Many happy days were charged with this song, pitched with gusto, as we celebrated sounds we had dared not imagine. Oh the joy of each new part, as complicitous intricacies wove themselves into an ever more vibrant tapestry. We were transfixed and transformed. Nothing was ever the same again.

Our joy was to sing. Our life was to sing this song of ever increasing intricacy. We were born to sing and mundane things were readily thrown aside for the chance to blend voice again. And so it was, days without number.

The course complete we finally faced our future. Each packed for disparate ways we stood to raise one rousing last rendition, then fell upon each neck and cried. How could we survive without the song? How could life be lived without the chorus? How could we go on without each line, each lip, each lung?

He turned from his wagon, piled high with tomes and trinkets, and bade us sing again. And so we did. Intoning the dirge, I brought the song to birth. Then a simple harmony eddied in. Another current here and a stone skipping there, with birds and breezes skimming the waves until our hearts would burst with celebration of sound.

Then, when all that our voices could muster rang in glorious cascading collusion the song finally roused to life. He had a fiddle in his hand and it soared upon our voices like a creature risen from the dead. Our song was but air to the nostrils of this wild majestic thing. What we had called song was trampled under foot by the glorious arrogant creature brought to life by the old man’s hands on string and bow.

We dared not stop for breath, but exulted on the triumph of true song birthed on voices, built on dirges from captured, raptured souls.

And then he was gone.

We hugged again and drifted apart, to the dreams we had each brought with us.

So now I sing my song. And I cry. And at times I run when I hear voices joined, to see if the teacher is there.

I met a man who knew my song and he brought a harmony I had never heard, which he assures me the teacher taught him. “He plays flute, you know”, he said. Oh, if only I could hear him play.

Notes: I wrote this piece on December 8, 2007, to invoke something of the wonder of a life yielded to God, able to taste glories that selfish men never know. The dirge is the discipline of yieldedness, sifting those who will kneel from those who fight for their rights. With that dirge comes the unexpected and undervalued discipline which empowers us to achieve what we did not even know was important.

Then, once our hearts have been tamed and a communion established between us, we mere mortals can work with heavenly things for which we were once disqualified. The rapture of such service to heavenly cause, sounding forth a harmony and unity extremely rare, is worth every minute of the mundane path which leads us there.

But that is not all. The Master is able to transform even that which has been transformed and turn our glories into the mere clacking of sticks, upon which rhythm His heavenly purpose soars all the more resplendent.

Once touched by unity in divine service and tasting of the heavenly glories yet to come, we are spoiled for the ordinary and find ourselves searching for those who know of what we speak. Our hearts are set on heaven and we long for the courts of the Lord.