In 1675, a man named John Bunyan was in prison for holding
religious services outside the Church of England. Bunyan had
little education and a humble background, but the allegorical
novel he wrote there is considered a classic of literature and
has been translated into more than 100 languages.
It's called The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That
Which Is to Come, and it tells the story of Christian and his life
and spiritual journey. The map above is an illustration of that
journey from a 1778 edition of the book.
Bunyan wasn't the first to use the theme of a journey to teach
spiritual lessons. The Old Testament includes the journeys of
Abraham, Jacob and Moses and the Israelites from their
escape from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land. The
New Testament recounts three preaching trips of Paul as well
as his final journey to Rome.
Each can and has been mapped, and I've used those maps
many times in teaching both children and adults.
Mapping is a way to consider our own spiritual journeys. We
can start from our birth or our new birth and move forward
through our lives, noting significant events or influences.
Spiritual development is an abstract concept, and many people
benefit from finding some way to represent it visually.
A bargraph can be used to plot one
particular aspect of our spiritual
lives. Are we praying more or less
than we used to? Or we can use it
to compare where we were
spiritually as a child, in our 20s, our
We can draw a thermometer
to indicate changes in our
spiritual "temperature" over
time. The writer of
Revelation speaks of being
hot, cold or lukewarm.
We can chart our spiritual
ups and downs on a
simple line graph.
Or, we can start where we are
now and look back to where
we've come from and forward to
where we want to go. Highways
and how they connect can indicate
the way we start going one way,
then change and go off in another,
zigzag and turn.
What does your spiritual journey look like? Paul in 2 Corinthians
13:5 challenges us to "examine yourselves to see whether you are
in the faith; test yourselves," and to "grow up into him who is the
Head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). Peter says to "grow in
the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
(2 Peter 3:18). Are you growing? Can an exercise of spritual
mapping help you test yourself to see?
We can use a timeline (click on
the word to fill out your own) to
map the key events of our lives
and how we've reacted to them.
It can show us how we've grown
and changed over time.