PHOTO OF JERUSALEM
We have just experienced the privilege of taking an adventurous pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
After 30 years of dreaming together, this was a privilege made possible through the generosity of precious partners in ministry who share our passion for Christ and value Sabbath rest.
After 30 years of walking together in marriage, this was an adventure that led us to our first glimpse of Jerusalem and onto the challenge of walking The Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum over four days.
After 30 years of loving and serving together, this was a pilgrimage that renewed our hope and led us to fresh places of discovery and rest.
Along our adventurous pilgrim pathway, the One we followed and travelled with taught us some pretty cool life lessons. I’d love to share just a few with you in the hope that wherever you find yourself along the holy trail of life, you will be filled with courage to keep walking, one brave step at a time, with your heart set on the exquisite promised land that lies ahead…
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5 NIV
As the three of us walked and talked together on our adventure, we did a lot of huffing and puffing, laughing and crying, sprinting and staggering, thinking and praying… all while madly searching for the next orange and white marker showing us the way to go…
Lesson #1 = The path ahead is not always clear!
We were given the book, we possessed a map and these were both helpful, but we would have been lost without the GPS that beeped at us every time we got a little off track. Likewise in life, we may be prepared and looking for guidance, but ultimately it is the Spirit of the Living God who directs our steps. He is the ultimate GPS… God’s Personal Spirit not only guides but also strengthens us for every step Homeward-bound.????????
The Jesus Trail was not exactly what we expected! Yes, parts of it were just as we pictured, but every corner held a unique surprise.
Lesson #2 = The journey is filled with the ordinary and the extraordinary!
Along much of the trail we kept exclaiming just how ordinary things would have been for Jesus. He really did walk this earth in the fulness of a human! The extraordinary fact that He would have walked thousands of miles over His life and ministry years did not escape our notice. We only walked 70 kilometres but were amazed at the various kinds of terrain we had to traverse.
- We climbed up 416 cobbled steps leading out of Nazareth only to be met by a steep paved hill and a winding bitumen path.
- The next marker led us through scrubby wilderness, prickly rabbit trails and surprised us with a pleasant pine forest stroll.
- We raced through the stench of rubbish dumps and rotting animals but meandered through the flower farms to smell the roses. Eucalyptus wafted over us several times, making us homesick for our Aussie bush.
- We enjoyed the coolness of the orange and olive groves and craved shelter along the long rocky stretches out in vulnerable open spaces.
- We encountered many obstacles that we had to scurry up, over and through.
- Our eyes were glued to the ground as we slugged through slippery mud on that rainy day. But as the sun came out again, we marvelled at the extraordinary panoramic views of Galilee that came upon us suddenly.
- Oh how we welcomed the sight of a little town to refresh our water supply, a relief to wave at inquisitive villagers after miles of lonely solitude.
- Our parched throats and aching feet were delighted to be comforted with gifts of cool drinks and (rickety) chairs in the friendly oasis that was Cana.
- We trudged on for hours on a long straight path, followed by the challenge of a steep mountain cliff that has to be seen to be believed!
PHOTO of the climb
I could go on and on… each day bought its joys and pain, its challenges and inspiration. The Divine walked hand in hand with human flesh, sacred and glorious along the way paved by the One who was fully divine and fully human. What extraordinary ordinariness!
As we continued to walk on through the rain and hot sun, I had to resist the childlike temptation to whine, “Are we there yet?”
Lesson # 3 = It really is about the destination!
Yes, I do realise that it is also about ‘the journey’ and ‘the climb’ as wisdom sings out, but the truth is that if we are on the wrong path leading to the wrong place, those lessons we learn along the way will also be wrong!
Better by far to walk securely along the right path leading to the right destination. On this path of Truth we will gain life-giving insights and view our surroundings with the correct perspective as we go.
The True Jesus Trail is narrow and paved in the blood, sweat and tears of the Saviour we follow. But friends, this trail alone leads to eternal life and glory with the Father. We never walk alone and we have an inexpressibly beautiful destination ahead in Him!
To be honest, we didn’t do this holy pilgrimage thing perfectly… we didn’t do things in the right order, we blundered through some parts, we needed grace for each other’s mistakes and strength to take turns carrying each other’s burdens. We got lost several times and I got ‘hangry’, tired and disorientated. At times I complained about the heat, my sore feet and aching body.
Yet in spite of all that was against us, Someone far greater was and is for us!
We made it! We climbed that huge mountain. We did the distance! We did it together and gloriously laughed together when it was done!
# One final lesson = We don’t have to go to the Holy Land to take an adventurous pilgrimage!
If the Holy Risen One is with us and in us forever, then our journey towards Him and our eternal Home with Him continues with our very next step!
Let us together look out for the truthful markers as we notice the ordinary and expect the extraordinary all around us. Let us set our bodies, minds and hearts towards the ultimate goal and destination as we remember to help our sojourners along the various terrain and conditions we will encounter in this risky business of life.
May we all remember to BE Adventurous Pilgrims because in Christ, THIS IS WHO WE ARE!
From the Great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11
“Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that— heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16 MSGPS: Don’t forget to rest along the way!