I'm not sure if I'll ever do something this physically demanding, carrying that kind of weight around on my back. But maybe could imagine doing a part of it, and then driving or taking the train to different parts, to encourage our student group on a pilgrimage...
Anyway, I was fascinated today with some words in the Bible translated (from Greek) as "aliens," "strangers," "sojourners" and "pilgrims."
"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.... All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth... 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."
-- Hebrews, chapter 11, verses 9, 10, 13, & 16
What amazes me are the ideas of:
1) starting a journey, with no assurance of where it will lead you. Scary. If I may use a personal comparison (at least to some extent), I never figured when moving to Germany that I would later move to Spain! So, what guarantees do YOU have that next year you will live in the same place? Have the same friends near you? Be able to work with the same co-workers?
2) faith-- it's all about the "dive" into God's arms and ocean of love-- but without seeing it all layed out and planned and on the calendar, tickets purchased, no changes, etc. formula.
3) living long-term in a tent (no real complaints here, if you've seen my lovely apartment). It reminded me of the fact that I have an apartments-worth of furniture stored in Germany at the moment.
4) getting very comfortable or maybe just attached to the idea of being a stranger, a foreigner-- long -term! The longer I live in Europe, for example, the less I feel like an "alien" here and actually feel more like one in the USA. (I believe this is no UN-usual occurrence, for many who live overseas and move around. And if you've never tried it, I mean, moving because the Lord has something in another location for you-- you might be surprised and discover that it's wonderful!!) And since moving to Spain, I have had to re-visit some of those "old" patterns-- how much do I simply RELISH life-- and "settle in" to culture & language here? -- versus falling into a pattern of contrasting the differences, or verbalizing what I left behind.
5) I also love the word "admitted" -- like "hey, guys, could we all just face the facts and grab hold of the reality-- this is NOT home! No matter how much you buy it, own it, paint it, cut the lawn, plant, decorate, fix it up, re-furbish, color- coordinate, light the candles-- you are STILL living in a tent. A temporary state of being, on the earth.
One day, though, it will feel "right." It will truly be...