Monday, February 22, 2016

A Heart Set on Pilgrimage

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. . . ."  Matthew 16:24-25

One of the great, mysterious dichotomies of the Christian faith is that we can only find our life by losing it.  Jesus told his disciples this when he was on earth, and at first it must have sounded like nonsense.  How can we find anything by losing it?

Though on the surface this truth does not seem to make sense, we actually experience the reality of it in our lives.  Experience teaches us that holding on to things too tightly will cause them to slip through our clenched fingers.  If we love something, we have to let it go.

But it's so hard to let go of our life.  Life is the thing we love the most, sensing at the core of our being that it's essential--the essence--the ultimate reality. We instinctively hold on.  

Our instincts are right.  Life is a good thing. We should love it. The problem is that when we human beings rebelled against God--when we quit walking with him through this life--the present world became an alien planet where death reigned.  The Eden that should have given eternal happiness was lost to us.  We now live in what the Psalmist calls The Valley of Baka. The Valley of Weeping.

But there is hope.  There is life after this life in ruined Eden.  The key to finding that life is in letting go of the old one, and then living in God's strength as we pilgrim through to the other side.  And on this pilgrim journey, as we walk with him, the water of his eternal life brings refreshment to us and to those around us.  All we need to do is set our hearts on our real home, where God is.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength, til each appears before God in Zion.        

Psalm 84:5-7 (NIV)

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