“I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Berated and bleached by briny winds, few clapboards remained. The loosened and disheveled stone basement was slowly swallowing up the once ornate seaside house. Not far from where the Anabaptists first landed in 1763, this dilapidated homestead had at one time sheltered inhabitants from the frigid winds of the Bay of Fundy. In my late teens, along with a friend, I gingerly stepped onto it’s sunken porch, having summoned the courage to explore the long vacated property. Rusty hinges alerted any raccoons or porcupines of our intrusion into their refuge. A salty tang, mixed with the smell of rusty nails and decomposing wood, drifted through the open windows of the parlour. Now long permeated with only the lonely howls of humid zephyrs, the hair plaster walls had at one time absorbed the boisterous banter of human residents. I wished they could have talked, and told us why it was now abandoned. The unique trim, built-in shelves, winding banister, and beach stone, double fireplace, spoke of a ship-builder’s touch. It was the first time I had seen one fireplace grace two rooms. Ever since that day, whenever I read Pilgrim’s Progress, my mind drifts back to that central, two-sided heating source.
On his journey heavenward, “Pilgrim,” called, “Christian,” in John Bunyan’s classic allegory, takes rest and refuge in Interpreter’s house. He is shown a fireplace where a figure standing by it was throwing much water on it, trying to put it out. Yet the fire only burned “higher and hotter.” Christian asks how this can be? Interpreter tells him that the person dousing the flames is the Devil. Then he takes Christian around to the other side of the fireplace, in the next room, wherein stands another figure who is secretly pouring Oil on the fire. He then says to Christian, “This is Christ, who continually with the Oil of His Grace maintains the work already begun in the heart: By the means of which, notwithstanding what the Devil can do, the souls of His people prove gracious still.”
The dark waters of the Evil One, the World, and our Old Nature, endlessly endeavor to pour down discouragement upon the fire of our faith. The Anabaptists, for whom persecution drove them to our shores, certainly experienced this. Perhaps, owning a copy of Bunyan’s book, one of them built that house with the double fireplace in part as a reminder that the Oil of the Holy Spirit continually revives and sustains our faith so that it never is extinguished. Our hearts would soon be cold and dark without the breath and oil of the Spirit fanning and feeding the flame of our hearts. We are to faithfully work out our salvation in fear and trembling, but it is God who works in us "both to will and to work of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13). We would not press on, but flame out, if it were not for God’s grace. Even when we don’t sense his presence, we can trust his promise. He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Doubts and discouragement at times come to us all, but with Christ at our side - opening up the scriptures, our hearts will ever be ablaze with the warmth of holy fire (Luke 24:32).
Thanks for meandering along with me,