Before they left England, the Pilgrims paid a heavy price for their faith in God and their desire to worship Him the way they believed was right.
Back in those days, the church was the center of the community, the place where people came together, and the hub of everything that happened outside of the family.
Fitting in wasn't just fun, it was important for your survival.
But through their study and prayer, the Pilgrims came to believe that God wanted them to worship in a different way than they could within the Church of England. It must have been hard to choose something that others would see as very strange, but the Pilgrims were true to what they believed. They quietly gathered together and worshipped in the way they felt God wanted them to, leaving behind the acceptance and approval of their friends and neighbors.
As time passed, they came under the scrutiny of the government. They had to hide where they met for worship, meet after dark, and arrive one by one using circuitous paths, hoping to escape the notice of the soldiers who were trying to catch them in the unlawful act of worshipping outside of the official government church.
When they were eventually discovered, the men were taken to prison, and the women and children returned to their lonely homes.
Back in those days, before the advent of electricity and the creation of tools that make our work light, the men were absolutely essential in providing for the basic physical needs of their families. The women and children must have lived very difficult lives without the men's protection and provision.
The first time they went to prison, the men were released after a few weeks, but that was just the first time. The Pilgrims continued to worship as they believed and the soldiers continued to hunt them. Many times they were thrown into the cold, dark, dank, awful prisons of early England. Infested by rodents and disease, the prisons weren’t just uncomfortable, they were unsafe.
In those dark and dangerous circumstances, some of their homes were burned. What else could go wrong? Why didn't God help them more?
Whether or not they asked that question, the Pilgrims were willing to pay the price to be true -- in every challenge.
Worshipping God, and living the way they believed He wanted, was at the very center of their hearts and lives, not just something they did for a short time on Sunday.
Little did the Pilgrims know that God was strengthening them and preparing them for even more difficult challenges ahead.