Tuesday, April 26, 2005

a heart set on pilgrimage

Blessed are those whose strength is in you
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage
As they pass through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs:
the autumn rains also
cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength
till each appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7 (NIV)

pil-grim-age (pil’ grem-mij) - a journey to a shrine or sacred place.

I paraphrase it this way: ‘Blessed (enjoying the happiness of heaven) are those who have set their hearts (who are determined) to make this life a journey from one sacred place to another; from one meeting with God to the next.'

What I like about this idea is how God’s presence pervades my life as a pilgrim; how as a pilgrim I expect God to come through, to be there, to show up and, on the flip side, how I am alert to God and sensitive to Him, because He is all around if I will acknowledge Him.

And so what happens? Shrines and altars are everywhere. Not only in the expected places – church, and happy family picnics and in my morning quiet time, but also in fetching the neighbor kid’s stray ball from my back yard, opening the mail, discussing life with a rebellious child, a hospital room...

Where I would normally expect to become dehydrated, woozy, lightheaded – the parched Valley of Baca – I find springs. The desert becomes an oasis not because it’s changed, but because "they"--the pilgrims (and I, the individual pilgrim)--make it so. For where my pilgrim heart seeks the Lord, He shows up with water to quench my thirst and bathe my feet, oil to soothe the blisters and perfume my skin, bread to nourish me, and wine to make me glad.

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