“We are invited to make a pilgrimage – into the heart and life of God…the major problem with the invitation is precisely overfamiliarity…they think they have accepted it – or rejected it, But they have not, The difficulty today is to hear it at all.” (so writes Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy, p 11)
I suspect most of us have a day or two or a week or two that we are going to call vacation this summer. I have wondered what to say to encourage us to make vacation more beneficial. I am resisting the temptation to write about not taking our tithes on vacation with us, or to encourage godly play, or to focus on the relationships most important in our lives and for our futures. These are worthwhile exhortations, but only one thing is necessary.
A trip is something we go on and come back from, more or less unchanged. A journey is something we go on and if we return, we are changed. A pilgrimage is more. A pilgrimage seeks a larger space, a larger place outside us. This place is a place of connection, of renewal, of seeking purpose and consolation. A pilgrimage that works is a pilgrimage “into the heart and life of God.” If we are moving deeper into the heart and life of God, things likes money, recreation and relationships will find themselves in the correct position in our lives. So how do we do this?
First, the Bible is where we encounter Christ (John 5:39). I am going to pick the gospel of John to read slowly and thoughtfully while I am on vacation. I am going to write in my journal the things about Christ that I am freshly aware of or reminded of.
Second, I am going to practice solitude, even when my travels take me into a crowd. In the solitude I will speak to God and listen for his voice, easy and gentle (Matthew 11:29). Again, I will record in my journal the fruit of my solitude.
A trip, a journey or a pilgrimage: which will my vacation be?