“… but it seems he escaped to die, and I was taken to live.” ~Pilgrim’s Progress
It can be all too easy for me to look at others and see their “escape” and wonder why I was taken captive, particularly in regards to eating disorders. But such thinking reveals my wandering heart. The Hand of Providence. The Sovereignty of God. Theological pillars that, as a young teenager, I fell in love with, but fought desperately to believe in my twenties. How could a good God let this happen? How could He let me wander so far if He truly loved me? The only answer I could think of was a terrifying one. Maybe I was not truly a Christian. Never once did I think that my God let me wander so far because He truly loves me.
In the midst of my darkest battles, I was tempted to doubt my faith, as did Christian and Hopeful while in Doubting Castle (Pilgrim’s Progress). And it was that particular scene that held out hope to me in those dark days. But, recently, a different passage in Pilgrim’s Progress has brought me great hope and peace, as it points to the sovereignty and goodness of God, namely in the story of Mr. Feeble (Part II of Pilgrim’s Progress – Christiana’s story).
During the pilgrim’s journey, they come upon a giant, named Mr. Slay-Good, into whose hands had fallen a fellow pilgrim, Mr. Feeble-Mind. After the giant was slain and Mr. Feeble-Mind rescued by the company of pilgrims, Mr. Feeble-Mind shared his story of how he was taken captive. He and his uncle, Mr. Fearing, were traveling pilgrims together when the giant came upon them. And while Mr. Fearing escaped, Mr. Feeble-Mind was captured. During the retelling of Mr. Feeble’s story, a message came that Mr. Fearing had been found, only a short distance away, lying on the road, struck by lightning. At this point, Mr. Feeble exclaims, “but it seems he escaped to die, and I was taken to live.”
I, too, was in the hands of Mr. Slay-Good. Where once I sang freely as a child and teenager, hymns of worship to my Savior, I now, through swollen cheeks, sang those same hymns from behind a bathroom door, thinking I would deceive family members that I was worshiping rather than purging. Why did I walk that path? Was I headed for a similar end as Mr. Fearing, to be struck dead by lightning, had I not been captured? While I do not know this, I do know that Mr. Slay Good was a part of the King’s plan and part of His good plan for Mr. Fearing. It has all been mercy and grace. And though His mercy has tasted bitter, as bitter as vomit, the taste of His mercy and grace in the light of His forgiveness, has overpowered the bitter, confusing things of this world. I continue to sing the very same hymns I did before falling into the hands of Mr. Slay-Good. But even though they are the same hymns, in a way, they are not. I sing now, as one delivered. The gospel delivered me when I was a little girl, and it delivered me in my late twenties, fingers down my throat, and it delivers me today. Every morning it is the gospel that frees us. It is Jesus Christ, the Faithful One, whose death accomplished the salvation for everyone who believes, even to those, caught in the grips of Mr. Slay-Good. Let us not abandon hope. Let us not whither away in Doubting Castle. Let us, together, as Mr. Feeble-Mind say…
What one would think doth seek to slay outright,
Ofttimes delivers from the saddest plight.
That very Providence whose face is death,
Doth ofttimes to the lowly life bequeath.
I taken was, he did escape and flee;
Hands cross’d gave death to him and life to me. ~John Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress