I have always been a fan of Peter Pan. I think it is because I’ve never grown up. I enjoy all books, movies, and even cartoons of Pan. There are many, but one of those movies I was unsure of when it was released but my daughters insisted on watching was Tinkerbell. I quickly became a fan of Tink! Tink was innovative, resourceful, and adventurous. Despite her gifts, she never felt she matched up to the other fairies because she was only a Tinker.
This cartoon depicts the life of a well-known pastor (except for the fairy part). While other authors in his day were very wealthy and living a comfortable lifestyle, he was trying to make ends meet as a pastor, traveling tinker (worked on pots and pans), and writer. It didn’t help that he spent a total of twelve years of his life in prison.
I am talking about John Bunyan.
Bunyan was born in 1628 to the son of a tinker. At age sixteen he enlisted in the army. After the army, he followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a tinker.
While on a job, he overheard four ladies having a conversation about God and the church. It so intrigued him he had to engage in the conversation. Their passion for spiritual things was something he had never seen. It ended up causing him to leave the Church of England, and joining their fellowship. It was there that he found Christ.
The tinker joined the church and within four years was drawing crowds “from all parts” as a lay minister. “I went myself in chains to preach to them in chains,” he said, “and carried that fire in my own conscience that I persuaded them to beware of.”
His preaching also drew attention from the authorities. When asked to stop preaching, Bunyan responded that he would rather remain in prison until moss grew on his eyelids than fail to do what God commanded. His second wife (his first had died), Elizabeth, did all she could to fight for his release. She also was left to manage a home and four step-children (one of whom was blind) with little to no income. Bunyan still could not walk away from his calling. “O I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet thought I, I must do it, I must do it.”
Still, the imprisonment wasn’t as bad as some have imagined. He was allowed visitors, spent some nights at home, and was even allowed to sneak out and preach to the “unlawful assemblies” at times in secret. More importantly, the imprisonment gave him the incentive and opportunity to write.
The prison freed the pen.
How could a man keep it together in such circumstances?
Because Bunyan was able to:
1. See the goodness of God even in prison.
I love what David says in Psalm 27:13- “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Even in the midst of the most devastating circumstances, God is always good.
We might not always see His goodness, but it is always there. His goodness does not mean there will not be finical difficulties, death, or imprisonment, but it does mean His grace will get us through.
2. Recognize what he had was more than he deserved.
Bunyan had little to nothing, yet that was often more than he felt he deserved. Bunyan was one of the few who has ever taken his readers into the battle of his thoughts and mind. He struggled with sin and that struggle weighed heavily upon him.
Bunyan was not one who would look up and cry, “Why me!” He was one who would look around and say, “Why not me?”
3. See a cause greater than his circumstances.
Was it easy, no! The fire that burned in Bunyan’s soul was enough to light the darkness in the prison. He knew his calling and would not allow circumstances to dictate his outcome.
Our purpose should drive us. It should get us out of bed every morning. God gave Bunyan a purpose. Bunyan made the most of it even when it seemed impossible.
The end of the story.
Bunyan was finally released from prison, his prison masterpiece soon became one of the most popular publications of the day.
Bunyan was able to trade in his pots and pans for a pen and became a famed author and pastor.
Pilgrim’s Progress has been called by many the most printed and most translated English book. Without a prison, there would have been no Pilgrim!