Wednesday, March 23

Press On, Dear Pilgrim

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have their hearts set on pilgrimage. --Psalm 84:5

One of my favorite books is the Christian classic, "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. It is the story of a young man named Christian, who learns how to leave his burden behind in order to progress toward the Celestial City. Along the way he encounters a number of different people, some of whom encourage him and enable him to travel in the right direction, and some who deliberately set out to deceive him. The tale is an excellent allegory of the Christian journey that each of us takes in our lives as followers of Christ. Each part of every day is another step along the path that leads us to heaven. The Holy Spirit leads us to begin this pilgrimage, and it is God's strength that keeps us going. When we focus on the hope of heaven, we can make it through even the most difficult and heartbreaking experiences of the human condition.

When our hearts are set on pilgrimage, we never lose sight of reaching heaven. It is important to daily strive to keep our eyes focused straight ahead. Our gaze must remain firmly fixed on the goal, whether we are proceeding undaunted with haste or slowly with uncertainty and trepidation. The strength to keep moving forward comes from God. Our strength is in Him.

Some things along life's journey are difficult to bear. Also difficult are the times when we find ourselves at a crossroads, unsure of which path to follow. In those moments it may be tempting to either abandon our pilgrimage, or look for a less difficult route. It is important that we continue making progress. Some days we accomplish much, and other days we feel like we have lost ground. This Christian life is "interesting" as comedian Mark Lowry would say. Life is a journey--a pilgrimage--and one that requires a source of strength and resolve greater than we could muster on our own. Strength for the journey comes only from God.

I must remind myself daily to keep my heart set on being a pilgrim. I want nothing more than to reach the Celestial City, but I know that will not happen until the Lord is finished teaching me things here on earth. I believe he still has a lot of earthly purpose left in me. So far my pilgrimage has taught me countless lessons, and an abundance of blessings. So too are the blessings for all of us with the heart of a pilgrim.



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