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The Pilgrim Life

Loughborough Church Sunderland New Springs - The Pilgrim LifeFor well over a couple of years now, in my devotional time with the Lord, I’ve been systematically working my way through the Bible. I started at the beginning in Genesis. I’ve been purposefully reading slowly and carefully trying to meditate on each short passage that I have read. This is most probably the reason I’m still only half way through. I’m in no particular rush; my strategy is a little bit every day with lots of cud-chewing in the process. To be honest sometimes it’s been such a blessing other times it’s been like wading through treacle. I’m sure you know what I mean, we’ve all been there at some time or another.

So I got to the book of Job, I must confess it was a tough read, one that was a little difficult to get a hold of. It seemed to throw up more questions than give answers.

Anyway, three quarters of the way in I could hardly wait to finish it and get to the book of Psalms.

Surely the Psalmist’s poetry and songs would prove to be so much more refreshing. Well it all started well until I got to around Psalm forty two or forty three.

From there until maybe Psalm sixty six or so – David goes through a really dark patch in his life. If you read it you’ll find he feels the whole world is against him. He is struggling to come to terms with those who are attacking and pursuing him. He spends a lot of time remonstrating with God and asking, or should I say, telling the Lord to smash them apart and take them out.

Just look what he says he says in Psalm 54:5…

“Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them, Lord”.

Eugene Peterson in his Message translation pulls no punches; he puts it like this…

“Evil is looping back on my enemies. Don’t let up! Finish them off!”

So much for it being easier and more refreshing than the book of Job!?!

However, then in Psalm 84:5 he talks  about the importance of “setting your heart on pilgrimage”.

Somehow in the midst of everything that was going wrong in his life he seems to totally understand that he doesn’t actually belong to this world. He’s a pilgrim; he’s on journey with the Lord. If he knows anything he knows this world is not his home, and he’s just a-passing through!

The word ‘pilgrimage’ can be defined as follows…

‘A holy expedition’

‘A sacred journey’

‘Often a long journey of devotion to a sacred place’

‘A specific journey to pay homage’

‘A journey to a sacred place’

‘A spiritual journey’

David knew the fact that we are just passing through this life, journeying towards heaven. We are on this earth only for a short while and this world is no place to settle. It’s no place to call home. He knew it may be a fascinating place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to sink down roots here.

The fact is we live for a short time in these physical bodies, anticipating the bright future in our real home. While here, we share Abraham’s experience living “like a stranger in a foreign country…  looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9–10).

David knew whatever life threw at him he needed to keep walking with the Lord straight towards his heavenly home. Just as in Hebrews 13:14 where it records:

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”

And of course, Phil 3:20 tells us “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ”, (that’s our journey’s goal!)

It was because of this that David knew that when the road was rough and steep, he needed to fix his eyes upon his God and just keep walking right on to the end of the road.

Here’s the truth, the Christian life is a pilgrim life. We’re aliens and strangers on this earth. We are walking to a sacred and better place and even through the difficult times we need to simply keep walking on but how easy it is to become distracted whilst on pilgrimage – in our walk with Jesus. The troubles we often face in life don’t half get in the way sometimes.

David the Psalmist was a man who walked through trouble on a regular basis. His Psalms express the struggles and disappointments he faced on his spiritual journey. Yet in the end, he always turned his focus back to God. The key to his victorious attitude was his strong faith in the Lord.

Just consider Psalm 138:7-8 and following for a moment.

David was confident in God’s purpose. That’s why he could say, “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me” (v8). The only way we can walk through trouble and not be defeated is by keeping our focus on the Lord and His purpose. He has promised to do a good work in our lives, but sometimes the only way He can complete it is in valleys of hardships.

Our God has promised to do good work in our lives, but we must remember, sometimes the only way He can complete it is in the valleys of difficulty. David relied on the Lord’s power. When troubles arise we too can trust God to deliver us, but it may not be by escape. Sometimes He sustains us through the difficulty walking with us every step of the way – that’s all part and parcel of our pilgrim walk. It comes with the territory.

David believed the promises of God. Throughout these two verses he repeatedly reminds himself what the Lord will do. We also need to have some specific promises from scripture that will anchor us in times of trouble. You know, the truths of the bible are our most valuable possession.

When the storms of life assail us self-reliance or advice from others is a poor substitute and will never equal the help and support God’s word offers and brings.

God assumes responsibility for that which concerns you in times of trouble. Your job, our job, my job is to believe that He will fulfil His purpose, your job is to keep believing that “faithful is He who has called you and He will bring it to pass!”  His power is adequate enough to keep every single promise. His grace is sufficient. When the trial has achieved its purpose, He will remove it! And until then we need to keep walking and we need to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus …. lest we forget after all – we are only pilgrims in this world – we are simply –  just a-passing through!

This is what we are called to do. Micah 6:8 says this….

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”.

So walk on my friend – walk on with hope in your heart, and you will never walk alone. So just keep walking on.