Pilgrim Heart

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

(Psalm 84:5)

“Frequently we do not leave the past behind. We clasp on to it. We dissect it, and let fears for the future, tempered by the past, unconsciously prevent us from taking up the task eternal.”

—Ray Simpson (Exploring Celtic Christianity)

Whether we are aware of it on a daily basis or not, each of us is embarked on a pilgrimage through this life. We are all engaged in a process of discovering who we really are and what we were put on this earth to do. If you believe, as I do, that an ever-deepening experience of God’s presence is a vital key to understanding both of these things, how is it that, despite this experience being a vibrant reality for many believers, still a great many are “lost” in various jungles?

Can you identify with this feeling of lostness in your own life? Of not knowing which way to turn to get yourself back on track? Of being surrounded, even by people, and yet feeling very alone? No guide, no comfort, no anything, and especially no hope.

Max Lucado suggests that we need three things: a person to follow – one who has both vision and direction. He says, “If you have only a person but no renewed vision, all you have is company. If he has a vision but no direction, you have a dreamer for company. But if you have a person with direction – who can take you from this place to the right place – then you have one who can restore your hope.”

The Bible gives us multiple evidence that God is the Guide we need – “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) – and Jesus Himself declares, “I am the Way…” (John 14:6). He also promises us, “I will never leave you…” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

How comforting is that? “But I’m lost,” you say. “What you say sounds good, but I can’t see the wood for the trees. I don’t know which way to turn!” We can feel afraid and anxious, even be paralysed by fear, but there are answers. We are pilgrims, we must keep moving forward. Some will protest, “But you don’t know my past, my regrets, my wrong choices, my unhelpful words.”

No, but God does and He still loves you. If we look back over our life and find an ocean of regrets, what confidence can we have that when we look forward we won’t be overcome with uncertainly about the future? God made to those needing guidance: “You will know which way to go even though you have never been this way before” (Joshua 3:4).

The secret is His presence with and in you.