Both Augustine and Bunyan have presented insightful ideas that have caused me to reconsider my own redemptive story. These ideas have prompted me to reflect even further on my life and recognize the hand of God at work since the very beginning. The authors’ points shed light on God’s actions in their own lives, yet it appears that God is similarly active in my own life.
At the end of Book 1 of St. Augustine’s Confessions, there is a notable idea. Augustine acknowledges his selfish sins as a child, considering them even more shocking than the sins of worldly adults. He acknowledges that there were also good aspects about him, but attributes them solely to God. On the other hand, he recognizes that his sins were a result of diverting his gifts away from God towards the material world. This reminded me of my own childhood, where I frequently sinned without much thought. However, as I grow older, I now take my sins much more seriously due to a deeper understanding. It makes me realize that God already knew my gifts even when I was innocent as a child. Although these sins were significant, they played a crucial role in my spiritual growth. They helped me recognize my flaws and make positive changes in my life.
The concept that impacted me the most from Augustine’s book was discovered in book IV. Following the sudden death of a close friend, leaving him overwhelmed with grief, he wrote: “everything on which I set my gaze was death.” Reflecting on this, Augustine realizes that his grief could have been eased through faith in God and concludes that his grief indicated that he had become a “vast problem” to himself. Being attached to worldly, temporary things rather than God, he experienced sorrow when they disappeared. He states, “I didn’t know this at the time, but I loved lower beautiful creatures, and I was going down into the very depths” (Augustine, 106). This perfectly explains my own experiences last year when I lost nine significant individuals in my life to death. In retrospect, I understand that God was strengthening my faith and teaching me to rely on Him rather than people. Back then, I was unaware that God was not punishing me but simply guiding me. Every aspect discussed by Augustine in Book four resonates deeply with me as I mourned and continue to mourn.
Augustine’s concept in Book VII that impacted my redemption is centered around understanding God. Augustine discusses his journey towards God, acknowledging that he no longer questions the existence of an unbreakable substance that gives rise to all substances. He recognizes that God is a spiritual entity without physical form. Augustine expresses his desire to have a stronger connection with God rather than simply having more certainty about Him. This statement resonates with my personal experience as I have grown in my Christian faith. My goal has always been to maintain a stable relationship with God and avoid uncertainty. I have never doubted the existence of God; instead, I strive to be in His presence and please Him. Even now, my heart’s longing remains consistent – to establish stability with God and remain unwavering in His divine plan.
Bunyan’s book includes some compelling ideas on my journey of redemption. On their way to the Wicket Gate, Christian and Pliable encounter a pit known as the Slough of Despond. This pit is filled with slime and mud, making it difficult for them to escape. The experience leaves Pliable feeling disheartened, causing him to doubt whether the rewards Christian promised are worth the hardships they have faced. He abandons Christian and continues towards the Wicket Gate alone. “Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have such difficulties right from the start, what can we expect on the rest of our journey?” (Bunyan, 7). At this point in their journey, Pliable is exhausted from his futile efforts. He cannot comprehend what Christian is talking about and chooses to give up. I have encountered similar struggles in my own Christian walk many times. The constant attempt with little progress can be exhausting and make me feel like I am going in circles. However, every time I reach this breaking point, God reveals Himself to me more and provides motivation and encouragement to continue the race. I am grateful that I have never given up, unlike Pliable. God has always been there to uplift me and keep me going, sustaining my Christian journey.
In Bunyan’s narrative, Christian’s encounter with Mr. Worldly Wise is a significant point that parallels my own redemptive journey. This encounter stands out due to its inherent ambiguity, as Mr. Worldly Wise is not portrayed as a typical villain or negative character. Instead, he is depicted as a morally upright individual who offers advice and displays friendliness.
According to Mr. Worldly Wise, settling in the village of Morality would be a good choice for Christian and his family, providing relative comfort. However, this suggestion conflicts with Christian’s calling to strive for the best rather than settle for mere goodness. As a result, Christian’s momentary weakness becomes a sin when he considers abandoning the goal set forth by the Evangelist.
While residing in Morality may offer comfort, it can never fully alleviate Christian’s burdens in the same way that reaching the Celestial City does. This idea is encapsulated by Mr. Worldly Wise’s words: “But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers attend it? Especially since I could direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that thou in this was wilt run thyself into?” (Bunyan 11).
This particular theme strongly resonates with my own Christian journey where I often find myself torn between seeking comfort and being reluctant to move forward towards gaining a deeper understanding of Christ and his teachings.The allure of comfort is strong, leading me to believe that everything is fine and I don’t need to push myself. Yet in these moments, God inspires me to grow spiritually. Although it’s hard to leave my comfort zone and resist complacency, the urge to keep progressing remains.
Bunyan and Augustine both make relevant points in their books about my redemptive story. Their narratives pertain to the Christian journey in numerous ways. Reading these books has increased my awareness of my redemptive story and how fortunate I am to have Christ in my life. Temptation, sin, and deceit can all obstruct our relationship with God, but He consistently helps us overcome those wicked paths.