Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Plodding Pilgrimage

In the Old Testament we find a number of depictions of journeys that serve as pictures of the Christian life.  So the story of Abraham, with his journey from Ur to Canaan.  And the story of the Exodus, with the Israelites journey out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and (eventually) into the land of promise.  And the story of the Babylonian captivity and the return to the land 70 years later.  These travel narratives serve as fitting parallels to the Christian life.  So in the New Testament, Peter calls Christians “pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11).  Life is a pilgrimage, a journey with a specific purpose and destination.  This blog is a like a travelogue.  A journal of reflections in the course of the journey. 

But my pilgrimage has been a bit circuitous at times.  Years ago, Eugene Peterson wrote a book entitled A Long Obedience In the Same Direction.  And while I enjoyed the book, my own experience has not lived up to that billing.  Long – yes; obedience – sometimes; in the same direction – not by a long shot.  Even the more forgiving adage “two steps forward and one step back” is too tidy to depict my journey.  It still suggests a track that allows only for forward and reverse. 

For all my forward progress and backward regress there are many sidesteps. My pilgrimage is (unfortunately) not resolute. Seems I chase my tail sometimes. I distractedly sway to and fro, thinking I have a better route, a short cut, a new idea.  I lack initiative, hesitant to make decisions that I know should be made. I choose entertainment over enrichment, aimlessly surfing the net, browsing a magazine, flipping the channel. I procrastinate.  I make excuses.  I rebel.  I settle for the good rather than pursuing the best.  I wallow in self-pity and get bogged down by regret.

My pilgrimage is a convoluted mess; an entangled snare of twists and turns that I look back on and say, “How in the world did I end up here?”  I never would have projected that this is where I would be at the age of 39.   Never.  And the route I took to get here is still difficult to unravel.  Parts of it are just a jumbled snarl.

So a journey that could have taken a few weeks by the most direct route takes me forty years (well, 39 and change) as if I’m…well, as if I’m an Israelite wandering in the wilderness.  This is a plodding pilgrimage, a slow, heavy-footed progress.  But there is progress, as incremental as it may seem.  It is still a pilgrimage.  I am moving closer toward the goal to win the prize for which Christ has called me heavenward.  So today, in this plodding pilgrimage, I’ll walk resolute…barring distraction.


  1. Reading this struck a deep chord in my own heart, and made me well up with tears. Thank you for sharing your journey, Phil.

  2. Amen to every word, Phil. Plodding along with you...

  3. good stuff, phil! transparent, insightful, humble, with comedic flavor and inspirational nudges. you're a talented writer and teacher... it's fun witnessing you live your vision (your God-given vision) more and more with each new day! rock (plod) on, my brother in Christ!

  4. Great description of a life journey. I have said some of the same things myself in the past few years.

    Thank you. Really enjoy your writing.