Saturday, August 18, 2007

Christian Pilgrim - Are we there yet?

Hebrews 11:13-16 "And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. "
While I was on my vacation, driving through the mountains on the way to hike a trailhead last weekend, I started to think about my journey - not just for that day, but my life's journey. From a distance, I could see the top of the mountain area where the trail ended. It was marked with a gigantic "M" that was clearly displayed for everyone to see from miles away on the main highways. But for the hiker embarking upon the ascent on the narrow dirt path, the giant "M" isn't visible anymore. In fact, for the entire trip up the mountain, I still couldn't see that M anymore. Yet we all know it's there, because we got a glimpse of it back down the road. Along the path that goes up the mountain, there just a few well-placed signs that correct the turns and twists along the switchbacks and prompt us to keep moving along, perserving to the destination.
This illustration really reminded me of our pilgrimage as Christians. We know from the scriptures and from God's son Jesus Christ and even from creation which cries out of His holiness, that God is calling heavenward. But once we embark upon that path, most of the time in the day to day muckity muck, we can't see the Kingdom yet. We know that the path is not the destination, and sometimes we may even start to think maybe we're on the wrong path. And then we see God Sovereignty at work, those little 'signs' that Holy Spirit uses to lead us onward (and perhaps back onto the better path too). He encourages us along the journey so that although we know we are not there yet, we can still have a sense of joy in the journey, with the benefits of exercise, the blessing of the presence of God's beauty, and of course the present rewards of not quitting!
We have faith that God's Word is true! Just like the Hebrews 11 passage above. To further explore the idea of Christian Pilgrimage, I'm re-reading Pilgrim's Progress and also came across this golden gem on the internet that I thought I might share - enjoy!

The True Christian's Life a Journey Toward Heaven, by Jonathan Edwards, September, 1733.
General Outline
Section 1: That this life ought to be so spent by us, as to be only a journey or pilgrimage towards heaven.

1. That we ought not to rest in the world and its enjoyments, but should desire heaven.

2. We ought to seek heaven, by traveling in the way that lead thither.

3. We should travel on in this way in a laborious manner.

4. Our whole lives ought to be spent in traveling this road.

5. We ought to be continually growing in holiness, and in that respect coming nearer and nearer to heaven.

6. All other concerns of life ought to be entirely subordinate to this.

Section 2: Why the Christian’s life is a journey, or pilgrimage?

1. THIS world is not our abiding place.

2. The future world was designed to be our settled and everlasting

3. Heaven is that place alone where our highest end and highest good is to
be obtained.

4. Our present state, and all that belongs to it, is designed by him that
made all things, to be wholly in order to another world.

Section 3: Instruction afforded by the consideration, that life is a journey or pilgrimage, towards heaven.
Section 4: An exhortation so to spend the present life, that it may only be a journey towards heaven
Conclusion with direction:
1. Labor to get a sense of the vanity of this world, on account of the little satisfaction that is to be enjoyed here, its short continuance, and unserviceableness when we most stand in need of help
2. Labor to be much acquainted with heaven.
3. Seek heaven only by Jesus Christ.
4. Let Christians help one another in going this journey.

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