Happy Pilgrims. Those were the words I read this morning. They sounded more to me like an oxymoron than a spiritual taunt, but it intrigued me. It had been several weeks now since I had discovered that my restless spirit was not a curse, but a blessing. But I did not yet have a name for it. All I knew was that “it” was ok.
Relishing in my newfound discovery, I stumbled upon some verses in my morning bible study that through me for a loop. The words stuck out like a neon side begging me to come in. But the words and the idea behind them bothered me. They intimated that the Jesus I knew to be a nomad, a wandering spirit may have in fact owned a home!
No!!! I thought, this just can’t be! My Jesus was homeless, a drifter with no place to lay his head. My Jesus didn’t have a house! That changed what I had just learned… or did it?
My heart was racing, wondering if my newfound love of being ok with gypsy style living was not in fact ok. But that’s not what I felt. I felt a deeper meaning, a deeper calling to this notion that Jesus had a house, a place to lay his head.
I meditated on the verse that the Lord had given me several days before, Hebrews 4:11:
Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.
That rest, what did it mean? I hurried to see the original word in Greek and was amazed to discover it also meant dwelling or habitation. The Israelites had been chasing their “dwelling,” the promised land, Israel, all of those years. We as Christians chase heaven. But in the middle, here on earth, where was that dwelling? Where was that rest? I knew it was somewhere…
And so all of my thoughts about nomad living were shuffled together like cards in a deck, and I was worried and bothered and flustered over where on this earth I belonged. I knew the promised land Israel had already been attained and heaven wasn’t quite ready for me yet, so where was I supposed to be?
The nomadic journey had endured harshly for months in my soul, tough but needed, and joyful knowing I was walking forward. I knew the journey existed inside of me, but I also knew that with that was the physical journey as well, even if it may be the next City over.
And then came more revelation. That Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum, both in Galilee, that most of his ministry was spent in Capernaum, and that Jesus did in fact have a house.
Mark 2:1, “When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at HOME.” (Capitalization and bold for emphasis).
And the picture was getting clearer for me. The man, God, who moved from one city to another maybe only thirty miles away and located in the same region effectively changed the world for all eternity. For me, I thought of where I lived, to travel from one end of the county to the other. And that jolted me. That someone could change the world from moving from one place to another in the same county, not very far away…
And there was more. Psalm 84:5:
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”
And there was the word, the one I needed. My “condition” had a name.
So I moseyed on over to the Hebrew translation and struck gold,”- Happy Pilgrims- MacLaren’s Expositions. If you don’t click the link and check it out, you will be sorry (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Here is part of what he says:
‘Blessed are the men in whose heart are the ways.’ A singular expression, and yet a very eloquent and significant one! ‘The ways’ are, of course, the various roads which, from every corner of the land, lead to the Temple, and the thought suggested is that the men whom the Psalmist pronounces blessed, and in whose blessednesses his longing heart desires to share, are the men who are restless till they are on the path, whose eyes are ever travelling to the goal, who have a ‘divine discontent’ with distance from God, and who know the impulse and the sting that sends them ever travelling on the path that leads to Him.
The path. The highway. The ways. This was all becoming very real to me. But he said something else that struck me.
But that the further they go the stronger they become (speaking about the pilgrim)
I remember once, long ago, when I was on board a sailing ship, that we had baffling winds as we tried to run up the coast; and morning after morning for a week we used to come up on deck, and there were the same windmill, and the same church-tower that we had seen last night, and the night before and the night before that. That is the sort of voyage that a great many of you Christian people are making. There may be motion; there is no progress. Round and round and round you go. That is not the way to get to Zion. ‘They go from strength to strength,’ and unless you are doing that, you know little about the blessedness of the pilgrim heart.
And I realized that for me, the staff of the pilgrim was my pen. Not a literal pen, but the one that continues to write my story, the master Creator, and the words he allows me to write about my journey. That the words staff and pen were interchangeable in the Hebrew meaning of things. And that if the pilgrim staff was in fact my pen, I already had His power in my hands, the words that had already been written in my heart, the journey that was already waiting for me…