During the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I always enjoy the traditional decorations that appear, whether it be in the community or in my daughter’s backpack in the form of a craft project. The cornucopia reminds me of the abundant blessings in my life, both tangible and intangible. I live in a free country, there is food in the pantry, a roof over my head, and I am in good health. The turkey, the main centerpiece of the meal, reminds me of the blessing of fellowship. I’m thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life, both family and friends, that live with me, laugh and cry with me, and pray with me.
It would be challenging to get through a Thanksgiving season without giving pause to remember the pilgrims and the history of how our great nation was formed. I listened to a pod cast series by Matt Hannan this summer on the Songs of Ascent. The Songs of Ascent are Psalm 120 through Psalm 134. These songs were sung on mandatory pilgrimages to Jerusalem each year. As the travelers walked toward Jerusalem, they would sing songs to the Lord and remember that He delivered them from Egypt, led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and dwelt with them in the Tabernacle.
Pastor Hannan mentioned something that I want to share, as it seems appropriate today. There is a marked difference between a journey and a trip.
A pilgrim takes a journey directed by God.
A journey is done with others, and develops character.
There is no intent of turning back.
A tourist takes a trip, which is designed by himself.
A trip usually is done alone and for the purpose of increasing comfort.
The traveler intends to return home.
The pilgrims who came to America were on a journey. They sought to remove themselves from the control of the king of England to serve and worship the one, true King in freedom. History has countless stories of how this journey developed character. While the road to freedom was brutal at times, and even fatal for some, it was something that they were committed to and had no intention of returning from whence they came. With the hardships came immense blessings, and the Lord was with them through it all.
Where are you in your walk of faith? Do you consider your walk with the Lord through the lens of a pilgrim or a tourist? Do you see the Christian life as a journey or a trip? Jesus said in Mark 8:34, “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Jesus calls us to journey with Him (directed by God). A life in Christ will develop character. Upon salvation, we become a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Our old sinful ways should be left behind as we pursue righteousness and His will for our lives. As the old hymn says, if we have decided to follow Jesus, there is no turning back.
On this blessed Thanksgiving day, let us remember that we are aliens in a foreign land, journeying toward our eternal home. We need to be about the business of our Father in heaven. Connect with fellow travelers, pray with them, encourage them, give thanks for them!