A Sad but Hope-filled Pilgrim

I have been reflecting on the weight of what is going on in our world of late.  It is weighty, isn’t it?  I suppose that’s why the expression of feeling “burdened” is appropriate during these times of reflection.  That’s definitely what I’ve been…burdened.

It’s so hard to turn on the news and see the level of hatred that so many people have towards each other.  A picture of America, that “shining city on a hill”, in all of her ugliness and brokenness.  That shouldn’t be interpreted through a lens of anti-patriotism.  I truly love the country of my birth and am so thankful that I was raised under a flag of freedom.  I think that’s what makes me so sad to see her condition.

I think if we have ever bought into the truly absurd idea that our hope or salvation comes through a nation, we should see why that can never be.  It is our freedom that, taken for granted, too often leads to our lawlessness.  We feel like we are free to do anything to anyone and say anything we please.  Yes, those freedoms are protected (in theory, at least), but it is the abuse of freedom that strips strips them away so that all suffer.

Looking more broadly, though, what it should do is point point out the fact that it is our sinfulness that enslaves us.  It screams out that salvation must be outside of ourselves…truly, outside of this broken world, regardless of the soil upon which we stand.

We see the ugliness of our souls through hatred, racism, greed, self-righteousness, and pride.  We realize that we are living in a world that cannot deliver.  Even as a Christ-follower, it’s hard for me to take it all in and not feel the pain; not to feel discouragement.

It’s in these times of desperation that I have to pull back and remember what is true.  I remember that I am redeemed.  I remember that I am loved.  I remember that there is hope.  I remember that I am not of this world and that my citizenship belongs elsewhere.

Then, I remember that there is that same hope, love and future for all who call on the name of the Lord.  I remember that the only hope for this broken world is Jesus…and I pray.  I pray for a world that is lost in its own sin, held captive by Darkness.  I pray for me, that I can live according to my real citizenship, loving the unlovely (like myself), showing compassion for the sinner (like myself), and communicating the truth that we are all in need of a Savior (like myself)…and that in Jesus, there is hope for the broken (like me).

This…this is what keeps me going.  This is what (or Who) speaks into my soul and says, “Remember, you are MINE, and all is well.”  I have to remember that God has this; that He is my Good Shepherd who knows my name and He loves me!

He is never surprised, never caught off guard, and never overwhelmed, regardless of what is going on in this crazy world.  As I heard someone ask recently, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?”  That is my King. My Father. My Hope.  My Savior.

I am so grateful that My Father and Lord is King of the Kingdom of which I am a part!  I was reading a poem called “The Pilgrim, by John Bunyan this morning that encouraged me.  Maybe it will you, as well.

Who would true valor see

Let him come hither!

Once here will constant be,

Come wind, come weather:

There’s no discouragement

Shall make him once relent

His first avow’d intent

To be a Pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round

With dismal stories,

Do but themselves confound;

His strength the more is.

No lion can him fright;

He’ll with a giant fight;

But he will have a right

To be a Pilgrim.

Hobglobin, nor foul fiend,

Can daunt his spirit;

He knows he at the end

Shall life inherit–

Then, fancies, fly away;

He’ll not fear what men say;

He’ll labour, night and day,

To be a Pilgrim.

Soli Deo Gloria.