5Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 6As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:5-7, NIV)
Verses 3-4 of Psalm 84 encourages us to dwell in the house of Lord. Blessed are those who get comfy and make nests and settle in with the Lord. The next 3 verses talk about what, at first, might appear like a really different charge: pilgrimage. The psalm teaches us: “Blessed are those whose hearts are set on a pilgrimage!” A pilgrimage is spiritual journey, like a quest for meaning. The Bible is full of pilgrim stories and pilgrimage themes. Consider Abraham leaving his home to search for the land God tells him about or the Israelites wandering in the desert in search of the promised land. In both cases, pilgrimage holds themes of hardships and care, search for promise and an assurance to trust because God is present. There’s even a whole set of Psalms (120-124) thought to be sung as pilgrims made their way up to Jerusalem.
The fact that these verses about pilgrimage come right after “Blessed are those who dwell in Your house” makes me wonder about the connection between our dwelling with God and our capacity to take meaningful journeys. And it makes me wonder about the connection between dwelling, pilgrimage, and home.
What if we are most ready for the quests that matter most to us when we have settled in and gotten comfortable in the house of the Lord? And, what if because we were forced to spend so much time learning to dwell last year, we’re more ready than we’ve ever been for a pilgrimage in 2021?
Who knows what major events will happen over the course 2021? This could be the year you start a new job or launch your own business. Or it could be the year God invites you to mature as a follower of Christ by undergoing a pruning process. It could be the year you meet new people that will know for the rest of your life. We really don’t know what this year will hold in our life or our work. So, why not, consider the unknown as an opportunity to follow God on a pilgrimage. To wrestle and wonder, build trust in God, and hope for all the good grace that might be? Any pilgrimage we embark on, we are invited to make God’s mission of redemption and restoration in the world our North Star. For a pilgrimage is both about us, and what God is doing in and through us. Consider what or who God might be asking you to attune to at the start of 2021, this inevitably new journey. What are your hopes for 2021? Offer them to God aloud and then make space to listen to God. Sit in silence or go on a walk, and ask God to speak to your hopes for this year.
Thank the Lord for a new year and the new life that comes through Jesus. Ask God to help you to hope for the things He hopes for. Let God orient you as your North Star as you endeavor to follow Him more deeply this year.
May 2021 be indeed a holy journey, one in which you grow
to listen and love God and all those He places in your life.