Tourist or Pilgrim?
Soon I leave for my first-ever visit to Israel. After a lifetime of teaching and preaching about the places of the Bible, it is wonderful almost beyond words to think I will soon be there: sailing on the Sea of Galilee, standing among the ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, walking the streets of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
My friend JoAnn Magnuson, who has led groups to Israel dozens of times and is leading our group, has encouraged us to think of ourselves not as tourists but as pilgrims.
I have been blessed to travel a great deal in the United States and around the world. I like being a tourist! It is exhilarating to see the beauty of the world God has made, to visit places of great historical import, and experience the cultures of the world.
But as a pilgrim, I have a different goal in mind. I travel with a clear intention to draw closer to God. I travel as an act of devotion and discipleship. I travel to honor the faith and lives of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, the apostles and disciples, and above all Jesus himself, in whose steps I will walk. I travel to bear gentle witness to all who will ask me about my pilgrimage that Jesus is the Light, the Life and the Resurrection, Savior and Lord.
Are you living your life as a tourist or as a pilgrim? On this journey through life, however many days the Lord gives you, are you just passing through, taking in the sights? Or do you live with purpose and intention for the Lord with the clear goal of drawing closer to him, that you might know him better, serve him more fully?
A traditional dictionary definition of pilgrimage is “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place.” But a person does not need to travel at all to be a pilgrim. Pilgrimage is an attitude of the heart and mind.
I encourage you to live your life as a pilgrim. I invite you to join in this prayer for pilgrims on their way to Israel, pilgrims on their way to work and school, pilgrims who stay at home:
Teach us, O God, to view our life here on earth as a pilgrim’s path to heaven, and give us grace to tread it courageously in the company of your faithful people. Help us to set our affections on things above, not on the passing vanities of this world, and grant that as we journey on in the way of holiness we may bear a good witness to our Lord, and serve all who need our help along the way, for the glory of your Name. Amen
David Lenz, Lead Pastor