35.Teddy’s Progress 4
(with apologies to John Bunyan)
Props: Toys as above or similar. Also a wrapped-up key, a painted carton for a dungeon (as last time), and the printed placard as above.
Boys and girls, I wonder if anyone can remember where we got to last time in our story? [Review story briefly.] Well, Teddy and Pandy were not enjoying their stay in that dark, cold dungeon with no food or water. One time the giant pulled them out and beat them with a stick so that they were all bruised and sore. Another time he took them to a dreadful place where there were old bones of pilgrims who had been there before. “This is where you’ll both finish up!” laughed the giant evilly, and then he threw them back in the dungeon.
They were there for a day and a night. It was coming morning and Teddy was feeling very sad that he had led Pandy astray, and that they had finished up where they were. He started to cry, and felt in his pocket for his hanky to wipe away a miserable tear. And then in his pocket he felt a little wrapped up object. “What’s this?” he asked himself, and then he remembered that when they were in the Palace Beautiful, Pinky had given him this little present, saying it might come in useful. He unwrapped it and there was a key! “I know what this is!” he sais, “I’ve read about it in my little book. It’s the key of knowledge!” [Aside: Luke 11:52] “I bet it fits the lock on this door!” Sure enough, although the lock looked to be too big, the key fitted exactly. It was a struggle to turn the key, but finally they managed it and they were out of that dungeon. But they weren’t free: they were in the castle courtyard which was surrounded by a high wall and a strong gate. They started creeping across to the outside gate.
Now in the castle the giant was lying on his bed. He wasn’t asleep; he was thinking about his two prisoners. He was remembering too how some of his past prisoners had actually escaped. Somehow they had had a key ... . “I must search these two,” he said, and got up from his bed and started down the stairs.
Teddy and Pandy had now reached the outer gate, and sure enough the key fitted the lock, but the lock was old and rusty, and the two friends couldn’t make it budge. The giant had reached the courtyard and swas that the toys were escaping. He gave a great roar, and started running, coming closer and closer. “It’s no good,” said Teddy, I can’t turn this key.” And then the giant was right up to them, but then he suddenly had a sort of fit, and fell down on the ground and couldn’t move. Just then the key turned, and the two friends opened the gate and slipped through. They ran and ran until they reached the safety of the Straight and Narrow Way. “That was a terrible experience,” said Pandy, and the two set off along the road.
They soon came to a lovely part of the country called ‘The Delectable Mountains’, where they were met by Wise Old Bear. There were pretty flowers, a lovely scent in the air, and fruit trees laden with fruit. “All this is owned by the King of the Celestial City,” said Wise Old Bear. “Everything here is for the pilgrims who coem along this way. You must stay with me a little and get your strength back.” And so they did.
Next day, Wise Old Bear took them down from the Delectable Mountains, and there on a little hill straight in front of them was the Celestial City. It was even more beautiful than Teddy had imagined: gleaming white walls, obviously a very happy place with singing. Teddy thought he heard people shouting “Come on Teddy! Come on Pandy!”, but perhaps he imagined that.
But there was a problem Between the friends and the city was a wide river. Teddy looked, but there was no bridge, and no one with a boat either. Teddy and Pandy looked at Wise Old Bear. “Is it deep?” they asked. “I can’t swim!” said Teddy. Wise Old Bear answered, “It’s not deep if you have faith. It gets deeper if you start to doubt.” Well, there was no turning back, so the friends said “Goodbye” to Wise Old Bear, and started off across the wide river. It was easy to begin with, but in the middle the water came up to their chins, and Teddy started to be afraid. “Help Pandy,” he called. “I’m losing my footing.” But Pandy supported and encouraged him, and they finally reached the other side.
Now they climbed the slope up to the open gates. There was a big sign over the gates: can anyone read it? Yes: “HAPPY ARE THOSE WHO DO WHAT HE COMMANDS, AND SO HAVE THE RIGHT ... TO GO THROUGH THE GATES OF THE CITY” So the friend came into the city. People dressed in white came and hugged them and said “Welcome”. It sounded like a choir of angels was singing. And over here were the King’s trumpeters, all dressed in white, playing a fanfare. Then the Lord Jesus came towards them and embraced them and said, “Well done, true and faithful servants. Come and receive your reward.”
“It’s all been worth it,” thought Teddy. “We are finally here in the Celestial City where the streets are paved with gold, and where God is.” And the two friends were very happy.
And children that’s the end of our story. But I’d like to pray with you. Lord Jesus, this story with the toys has been just a story, but it has also been a picture of the Christian life: how we come to you at the Cross, how we seek to live for you by following the Straight and Narrow, how we often turn aside, but you bring us back, and how finally we go to live with you for ever. Help us to live for you each day, so that in the end we might go to be with you in that wonderful Celestial City. Amen.
[Parents, this talk may or may not bear any resemblance to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress ! There are several children’s versions of this story. You might like to buy a copy and read it to your children.]