1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
While on vacation, my husband suggested we try something new. "Let's go for a walk that we pretend is a pilgrimage." As we talked about the pilgrimages to Jerusalem that were part of the rhythm of Old Testament life, we decided we wanted to imagine we were doing something similar. We really weren't sure what to expect, but decided we'd give it a try.
We were embarking on this journey for the purpose of seeking the Lord in a very tangible way, going to meet him in a place where we had met him before, going there specifically so that we could be with him, worship, talk with him and listen for him to speak back to us, and we'd be doing this together yet individually. We needed some Ground Rules.
Ground Rules for our Pilgrimage
- No cellphones
- Walk alone, not together
- Maintain silence
- Pray before we go, there, and when we get back at home
During the prayer before we left we prepared our hearts by repenting of everything we knew might not be right and intentionally surrendered everything that we might be clinging to. Then we walked for about 30 minutes to our appointed destination. Prayed. And returned home.
On the Way there
The journey there and back was part of the pilgrimage. Hardship. Anxiety. Vulnerability. Emotional movements within--or not. Joy. Anticipation. Connection with God. Peace. Protection.
We noticed nature-Romans 1:20, letting God's general revelation of himself speak.
We noticed what our body sensed: smells of walking thru the nesting area of the shearwater birds, the fear that accompanies strong wind, the beauty of the light during the "golden hour" and the glory of the sun dipping behind the horizon.
We let decisions, like which path to take at intersections, speak to us.
I contemplated if there was something I wanted to bring to offer to the Lord? Something I could figuratively lay at his feet out of my heartfelt devotion. Something costly. Something that I could bring to sacrifice.
I wondered if I had something that I want to talk with the Lord about? Some thing I was seeking direction about? What was my heart's cry?
It was also interesting to contemplate my sense of companionship with Kevin who was traveling with me, yet we were traveling alone.
It was a bit of a challenge for me to share the journey with someone else because of the timing. I was used to being able to stop when I wanted, but on this pilgrimage we were traveling together. Since we weren't talking, I needed to to stick with the initial plan. It was interesting to contemplate this added dimension.
We had walked for only about 10 minutes when out of the blue a thought came to me that was so surprising I had no idea what to do with it. Was it a word from the Lord? Was it just my wild imagination? I had no way to know. I decided I would note it in my journal and keep it to myself. I decided not to share it with anyone, not even Kevin. I think we need to be humble, recognizing our limitations and saying that I had a definitive word from the Lord was not in my nature. We have a hard enough time communicating with other people...maybe I hadn't heard correctly.
It can feel risky to do something you haven't done before. Being out of control and little vulnerable is really good for us.
I found so much joy in going with someone else....sharing the experience and the journey together was really fun. What Kevin mentioned about his pilgrimage helped to shape my reflections on mine, and vice versa.
When we got back home, we sought to boil down what the Lord said to us during our pilgrimage, to distill it all into one word? "Trust" was the Lord's word to me. For Kevin, his pilgrimage all boiled down to "God's sovereignty." We clung to these words from the Lord during the next months as we watched the surprising, unthinkable series of events unfold. We knew God was in control, and we could trust him. (Even still I found myself totally stressed out at times, but he got us through.) Within six months what I heard during my pilgrimage, happened. I remember getting my journal and walking into Kevin's office and showing him what I had written so many months earlier. We were both amazed.