Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven -- God-made, not handmade -- and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move -- and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfinished shack and we’re tired of it.”
II Corinthians 5: 1-4
The Message Bible
“The words often on Jesus’ lips in His last days express vividly the idea, ‘gong to the Father.’ We, too, who are Christ’s people, have vision of something beyond the difficulties and disappointments of this life. We are journeying toward fulfillment, completion, expansion of life. We, too, are ‘going to the Father.’ Much is dim concerning our home country, but two things are clear. It is home, ‘the Father’s house.’ It is the nearer presence of the Lord. We are all wayfarers, but the believer knows it and accepts it. We are travelers, not settlers.”
R. C. Gillie
Today’s Study Text:
“Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles in this world to abstain from evil desires that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves properly and honorably.”
1 Peter 2: 11, 12
“Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth”
“(She) who would valiant be
‘Gainst all disaster,
Let (her) in constancy
Follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement
Shall make (her) once relent
(Her) first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.”
What does it mean to me when I hear the word “wayfarer” in describing my life here on earth?
Do I feel “planted” on this earth or do I feel like my life here is a “stopover” on my journey to my permanent home?
If I truly believed that the things of this earth are not permanent, how would this knowledge change my behavior from day to day?
“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
C. S. Lewis
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but have seen them afar off and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confesses that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Hebrews 11: 13
As we have studied about Elijah and the challenges he faced, I have found myself reflecting a great deal on the way Elijah so willingly followed God’s call. Throughout his life, when the word of the Lord came for him to move on, he obeyed. And his obedience to God’s voice, at its heart, was because Elijah understood his life to be one of a wayfarer. If we look in the dictionary, a wayfarer is defined as one who travels on foot. I don’t have to tell you that if you are traveling by foot you can’t have a lot with you. Your load needs to be light for every added article only serves to add weight, and more weight means more pressure on the feet that are carrying you toward your destination.
In my early teens, I remember learning a folksong called “Wayfaring Stranger.” The words went something like this: “I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger, I‘m traveling through this world of woe, yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger in that bright land to which I go.” The words to this song mean even more to me today after a blessed conversation I had with Myrt Grimm, one of God’s precious daughters who I met through Transformation Garden several years ago. Myrt currently lives in Finland but is here in the United States visiting her daughter. What a treat to actually hear her voice on the phone as all our communication so far has been by letters or email. What inspires me so much about Myrt’s life is that she is, for me, a modern-day example of one who exhibits in her own life the spirit of Elijah -- the willingness of a wayfaring stranger who has gone where God called from her home in South Africa to South Korea, Kenya, Finland -- just to name some of the mission stops along the way in Myrt’s life -- I know God has much more planned for His jewel.
What struck me today as Myrt ended our phone conversation with one of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard, was the same element I have learned from the life of Elijah -- it is the mindset that helps an individual focus on the heavenly not the earthly. Individuals like those who the Apostle James tells us have “emotions and feelings” just like Elijah did, they also have what I note are certain specific characteristics in common. I want to take a look at some of these qualities with you, for as we look toward the New Year – 2013-- I want to never forget that I, too, am just a wayfaring stranger, a temporary resident, on my way to my permanent home.
Here are four special characteristics I’ve noted in Elijah and fellow travelers I’ve met in my life, like Myrt:
1. They listen and obey their Father’s guiding hand. We find that on five different occasions, the “Word of the Lord” or “God’s hand,” moved upon Elijah. The reason Elijah heard God’s voice was that he took time to listen for it. He wanted God to be his guidance system in all he did.
2. They understand that life on earth is just a “stopover.” This is our temporary residence. Frequently the Bible refers to dwelling on this earth as living in a tent. After spending a great deal of time camping, one thing I can attest to is the fact that I wouldn’t call “tenting” a permanent way to dwell.
3. They have a heavenly mindset even while living on earth. I love this hopeful message left by the Apostle Peter, “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…Born anew into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay, unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1: 3, 4, Amplified Bible). As Peter shares -- our inheritance is in heaven. Our minds and thoughts should be there, too!
4. They recognize the fact that earthly honor is not our goal. The Apostle Paul made this point clear when he wrote to the Christians in Philippi. Please remember, these words from Paul, were penned from a dark, lonely prison cell, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the supreme and heavenly prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward” (Philippians 3: 13, 14, Amplified Bible). Our goal is a heavenly one! Earthly honor, in the light of eternity, has no value.
Many years ago, a friend introduced me to a treasure of a book called Hinds’ Feet On High Places by author Hannah Hurnard. This allegory dramatizes the yearning each one of us has to be “called upward” in our walk with Jesus. In describing the pathway taken by “Grace” and “Glory” with her handmaidens “Joy” and “Peace,” this was what they witnessed:
“They realized up there on the slopes of the Kingdom of Love (that) there would be much more to see and learn and understand when the King took them higher on future occasions. The glorious view which they now enjoyed was but small in comparison with all that lay beyond…It was now perfectly evident to them that there must be ranges upon ranges of which they had never dreamed while they were still down in the narrow valleys with their extraordinarily limited views.”
This is why wayfarers travel lightly, for as we travel to newer heights, we need not be weighed down with the cares and things of this world. Our life here on earth gives us no permanence that we can hang on to. It will only be in our Father’s house that we will at last know what forever is really all about. We’ll finally, and truly, be at home!
Columba, who brought Christianity to Scotland hundreds of years ago, penned these words, “God counseled Abraham to leave his own country and go in pilgrimage into the land which God had shown him, that is, the “Land of Promise’…Now the good counsel which God enjoined here on the father of the faithful is incumbent on all the faithful, that is, to leave their country and their land, their wealth and their worldly delight, for the sake of the Lord of the elements, and go in perfect imitation of Him.”
Travel light. It is easier. Don’t hold onto those things that perish. And keep walking for we are only strangers in this land -- heaven is really our home.
“Wealth I ask not; hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.”
Psalm 84: 5
“I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger;
I can tarry, I can tarry but a night;
Do not detain me, for I am going
To where the fountains are ever flowing.
There the glory is ever shining!
O, my longing heart, my longing heart is there;
Here in this country so dark and dreary,
I long have wandered, forlorn and weary.
I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger;
I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.”
Mary S. B. Dana
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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