John Bunyan's famous book, Pilgrim's Progress, is the story of a young man named Christian, who carries a heavy burden on his back everywhere he goes.
Everyone Christian meets seems to have an opinion as to how he can get rid of his burden. "Forget it," says one. "Ignore it," says another. "Overcome it by doing good," says another. But nothing seems to relieve Christian of his burden until he arrives at a highway fenced on either side by a wall. Christian runs along that road, "but not without great difficulty," Bunyan writes, "because of the load on his back."
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.... Then was Christian glad and light some, and said with a merry heart, "He hath given me rest by His sorrow, and Life by His Death." Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the Cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. . . .
John Bunyan's words are old-fashioned, but Christian's experiences still happen to people. Nothing matches what a person feels when God forgives him or her of sin, rolls that burden of sin and guilt away, and brings his salvation to a human heart.
If you've never asked God to forgive your sin and make you a new person, if you've never repented of your wrongdoing and determined to follow Jesus for the rest of your life do it now, and you'll know exactly what the psalmist sang about and what John Bunyan wrote about.
If you have experienced the forgiveness of your sins, remember that path you took to joy: It involved admitting that you had sinned, asking for God's forgiveness, and accepting that forgiveness. It's the same process you should follow whenever you make a wrong choice, even as a Christian: Admit the wrongness of your choice, ask for forgiveness, and accept God's forgiveness on the basis of his love and Jesus' sacrifice for your sins.
REFLECT: In Pilgrim's Progress, what did Christian's burden represent? What did the cross and the sepulchre (tomb) stand for? Has God cleared your record of sin? If not, why not? Is there any sin you need to confess and seek forgiveness for right now?
PRAY: Reread Psalm 32:1-5 out loud, changing the words, if necessary, to make it your own personal prayer to God.