Beggarmans Road

Yesterday, friends and I drove down Beggarmans Road, a Yorkshire highway unfortunately named. Were we driving through a neighbourhood known for its poverty, old Ford Cortinas rusting outside council houses, ill-clad children playing in gutters, while pinched parents queued outside food banks? No. This narrow road between Buckden and Hawes takes one through Langstrothdale, close by the villages of Deepdale, Hubberholme, Yockenthwaite and Oughtershaw. The scenery, as one might expect, is awesome, faithfully reflecting the moods of our varied seasons. So why give the road through so beautiful a stretch so unflattering a name? Doubtless, there will be some historical reason, the discovery of which is currently beyond my resources and limits of patience. I can say that the road descends into the valley rather steeply. Anyone attempting to ascend it by foot or pedal is likely to go a few hundred yards, and diagnose themselves ‘beggared’ as my grandmother would say. I doubt this is the actual reason for its name, but the thought did occur to me as I considered the gradient from the comfort of a Volvo.

The Christian’s pilgrimage takes him from glory to glory, from stunning hill to verdant valley. Sure, some of the Christian journey is tough-going, but the Lord supplies the strength and nourishment by which we persevere. Like Beggarmans Road, the way is narrow and steep, with some of its users dismissed as intolerant and foolish for not taking wider, easier and better-trod paths. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul describes his own Christian journey:

We are fools for Christ’s sake…We are weak…we are dishonoured...we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless…Being reviled…being persecuted…being defamed….We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

Although his argument is a rather sarcastic response to the Corinthians’ love of false teachers who proclaim themselves wise and live themselves comfortably, he is faithfully describing the Christian life he lives. Who would wish to be his fellow traveller? Who on earth would desire to share his ride? Truly, it is the path of the beggar, the no-body, the out-cast, the fool. Who would endure the persecutions, the ridicule, the hardship of the gospel? Answer: those who see its destination, of course! Just as we yesterday relished the descent into Gayle and then Hawes, so the faithful pilgrim continues apace, seeing the celestial city appear before him.

Don’t let the hardness of the Christian path put you off. Consider again your destination:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Rev 21:1-4 (NKJV)