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.
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.
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.”
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.