What is a pilgrimage?
I found the most beautiful explanation of what a pilgrimage is by Macrina Wiederkehr, in Behold Your Life: “A pilgrimage is a ritual journey with a hallowed purpose. Every step along the way has meaning. The pilgrim knows that life-giving challenges will emerge. A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey during which significant change takes place. New insights are given. Deeper understanding is attained. New and old places in the heart are visited. Blessings are received and healing takes place. On return from the pilgrimage, life is seen with different eyes. Nothing will ever be quite the same again.”
This one word has made me literally weep the last few months. It has been a journey and I haven’t even obtained one stamp on my passport yet…
But my God has already stamped it for me!
I have to share an amazing testimony about my planned trip to Israel in October.
Many years ago a lady spoke at my previous church about a planned trip to Israel they were taking. I listened to her spiel. Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Maybe one day I would be able to go if I won the lottery and I had several thousand dollars to blow! After her presentation, I had the opportunity to talk to her about Israel. I must say this sweet lady really glowed when she began talking about Israel. I fully expected her to try to talk me into going. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. She said that when God is preparing your heart to go to Israel you will know it. And if you know it, He will provide the funds. I must say, I was little insulted. You aren’t trying to convince me to go on this trip? Are you looking down on me because I don’t have the money to be a “world traveler”? Well, I left that day thinking I probably would never be able to do it.
Fast forward several years. I’m now at a different church and there’s an announcement about a trip to Israel with FaithWalk International. I quickly dismissed it remembering my last conversation about Israel. BUT GOD, had another plan.
He began tugging at my heart. Several informational meetings were held before I couldn’t deny the fact that I knew God was wanting me to go to the meeting. Once again, a sweet lady began talking about Israel WITH THAT SAME GLOW on her face. By the end of that meeting, I had such a desire and yearning to go to Israel. There was no denying it, God HAD put the desire on my heart to go.
I am not the same person I was back at that old church. I have grown exponentially in my faith. During that time I started Christian Family Church International Bible College. Part of the curriculum I have learned about the integrity of God’s word, the foundations of my faith, why we study the bible, how to study the bible, how to develop my spiritual maturity, how to recognize the voice of God, just to name a few. I’ve learned the importance of prayer and I know this journey can only be rooted in prayer.
Every time I prayed about Israel I would weep. Not a sad weeping, but a joyful one. The only emotion I can compare it to was how I felt after the birth of my children. A cry from deep down in your soul that makes you shake. Literally tears of joy knowing that this young life will forever be part of you. I know this journey to Israel will forever be a part of me!
The decision to go came easily. Certainly, along the way, I had doubts. You selfishly are spending money you don’t have to go on a trip. Will people get aggravated or feel obligated to donate if I send them a sponsorship letter? Probably the biggest struggle I had was not being able to do this with my husband. Due to serving in an important capacity with some of his dearest Christian friends on a Tres Dias retreat weekend, he would be unable to go with me. BUT GOD, placed on my heart that this is a journey just for me at this time in my life. I have a deeper love for my husband because of the unselfish stance he took during this process. He took on the role of supporter, encourager, and cheerleader when I was doubting I would ever be able to go on this pilgrimage.
EVERY TIME I had doubt, God was there to give me confirmation after confirmation that this is where I would be in October. One of the sweetest kisses from God was receiving a letter in the mail that I had addressed to myself. Back in April I served on a Tres Dias weekend. During that weekend we were to write letters to ourselves about the whole experience. Three months later that is what I had received in the mail. In my old age, I couldn’t remember for the life of me, what was in that letter. THE WHOLE LETTER was about my petition to God, asking Him to give me confirmation on whether I should be in Israel in October or not. Guess who started weeping?
Well, this is Part 1 – leading up to what happened this weekend. I was overwhelmed by God’s love, His perfect timing, and how in control He is if we are just obedient!
Stay tuned for Part 2…