We welcome as our new Associate Editor, Ed Lotterman of our southwest Protestant Reformed Church. His first editorial appeared in the October issue. He began by writing under the general heading of “Proverbs for Young Pilgrims”. He plans to develop this theme in this issue with the title of “Righteousness Trail”.
The long line of pilgrims which had previously stretched across the prairie now is disappearing into the woods. Near the end of the line, the young pilgrim looks ahead and watches as one by one the pilgrims start down the path. While the line becomes shorter, he wonders about the pilgrim life. Each day there is a variety. There is different scenery along the way. Sometimes the way is rugged and they day’s journey is difficult. Other days the time passes rapidly and almost in a monotonous way.
There is also a variety of associations among the pilgrims. Some days the pilgrims walk in their own family group. Other days families may intermingle. On this particular day, the line of pilgrims is arranged by age group. The older pilgrims are at the head of the line with the younger pilgrims following on behind.
The young pilgrim sees that the path is narrow so that the pilgrims must walk single file along the trail. As he approaches the beginning of the trail, he sees that a sign has been posted, “Righteousness Trail”.
The trail is old. Many feet have trodden upon the path, making it hard. The firm path allows for relatively easy walking, and the air is cool from the shade of the trees. Although the pilgrims are moving at a rapid pace, there is much to see and the promise of an interesting day is in the air.
The young pilgrim is again impressed by the firmness of the trail. His thoughts are concentrated on the many pilgrims who have entered the trail before him. Some of the more prominent pilgrims ahead of him are: Adam, Abraham, David, Daniel, Paul, and, yes, John Calvin. Because on this day the pilgrims are arranged by age, the young pilgrim is able to see some of the spiritual leaders with whom he is better acquainted. Because the young pilgrim is more familiar with these spiritual leaders, he does not readily appreciate the relationship between them and the precious more prominent pilgrims before. He now begins to realize that all of the pilgrims are in a single line.
Suddenly a small flock of birds flutter in a nearby opening. Listen to the chirping! Seems as though birds are always busy doing something. “Didn’t Jesus say something about taking care of the birds?” wonders our young pilgrim.
And look at the flowers in the little clearing! “Jesus had something to say about the flowers, also,” he thinks again. “Why didn’t I learn the verses better when I had the opportunity?”
A short way farther down the trail the young pilgrim sees a waterfall. What beauty! He remembers hearing a preacher explain a verse (Oh, what was the verse again?) about “grace for grace…” being like a waterfall.
Wishing that he could remember more of what he had been taught, the young pilgrim now resolves to be a better listener when the older, more experienced pilgrims talk.
As the young pilgrim follows the person in front of him down the path next to the water below the fall, he remembers a hymn which he once learned. The hymn seems to be appropriate and he begins to hum the tune. Evidently the older pilgrims ahead have been inspired also, for they are singing. As the words of their singing drifts back to him, the young pilgrim stops humming his hymn and joins in the singing. The thought occurs to him that the song is a psalm.
Proverbs 12:28, “In the way of righteousness is life, and in the pathway thereof is no death”.
Toward the end of our last contribution, we presented some thoughts concerning God’s Law. Knowledge of the Law of God must permeate our lives. Instruction in righteousness is an aspect of the knowledge of the Law of god. Let us observe the young pilgrim as he is walking among fellow pilgrims on the “Righteousness Trail”.
First of all, we notice the movement of time. There is the motion of time in each day. Our days are filled with various people, events, and opportunities to learn. How often do we fail to use each day in the service of our Lord? Much has been spoken and written concerning “Redeeming the Time”. (Cf. Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). I do not wish to write on the subject, but we do have the idea expressed here. We must use each day in full potential to serve Him with Whom we have to do.
But for our young pilgrim, the motion of time is also evident in Church history. Many are the saints who have plodded along the path of righteousness. And our young pilgrim stands near the end of a long line of fellow believers. It is a covenant line. The relationship between the believers in the line is that all are following the same leader. And the Leader is Christ. Christ is the center of all history. His people through all ages of history follow Him. He blazed the trail, so to speak. He not only made the way of righteousness, but He is our righteousness. He is the way of life.
As our leader, Christ makes His truth known. Through all of history He preserves His truth. His truth has been developed from generation to generation until finally our young pilgrim receives it.
This truth is not merely expressed in doctrine. Sometimes we fail to understand what doctrine is all about. We tend to think of doctrine as so many statements of Theology which must be learned. This is academic in nature. We learn our doctrine in catechism or perhaps in some class at school. We must not leave our doctrine there. Our doctrine must be our life! We must live our doctrine. Doctrinal truth must come to expression in our lives.
Our young pilgrim in “Righteousness Trail” also applies doctrine to his life. For example, the doctrine of Creation. He not only relates that which God has made to various Scriptures, but he laments the fact that he failed to learn properly what he has been taught. He understands that this is a sin because of doctrine which he has not forgotten. With firm resolve he is determined not to allow it to happen again. (Which doctrine would that be?)
So the question confronts us: Do we relate the various events in our lives to the doctrine which we have learned? Doctrine is related to live in our Proverb: “In the way of righteousness is life”.
Notice that there is only one way. It is the way of the righteousness of Christ. For the young pilgrim it is the only way he knows. He has been instructed in this way, and to follow the pathway of righteousness is expected of him. But he wishes to have no other way.
Finally, let us observe our young pilgrim as he is in the company of fellow believers. He does not stray from the path of righteousness in order to seek fellowship with those who are not in the pathway thereof. Rather, he seeks to remain with his fellow pilgrims on “Righteousness Trail”. He has life with them, that is, he lives with them in the way of righteousness. He realizes that to separate himself from his fellow pilgrims is to follow a path of sin and shame. It is a noisy, rowdy, riotous path which leads to death.
But to remain with fellow pilgrims is life. It is the quiet, peaceful life of contentment. It is a life filled with learning about our Mighty God and Heavenly Father. It is a life of service, of giving of ones own self. It is an abundant life.
“For a good courtship, rule number one is, Get to know each other. Rule 2 is, Get to know each other’s family. Rule 3, Take time to enjoy your courtship without hastily plunging into marriage. Rule 4 is, Build up a strong esteem for each other, keeping yourselves a good conscience.”
Leaving Father and Mother, pp. 12-16.