By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
“Come, follow me.” (Matthew 4:19)
Faith has always been more pilgrimage than possession–a invitation to journey with God, knowing neither where we’re headed nor what will happen along the way, but trusting that He is with us and that we’ll come to know Him better in the process of responding to His call. It’s no surprise, then, that for the Celtic Christians of ancient Britain, “pilgrimage” was deeply valued. Sometimes putting out to sea in small boats with limited supplies, they often set off into the unknown, believing that God would lead them ultimately to their “place of resurrection”–a place where “new life is coaxed up from the grave of spiritual complacency.” (Thin Places, Tracy Balzer)
Although my sabbatical officially began almost three weeks ago, the pilgrimage that lies at its heart is just about to commence. I’ve spent the last few days reviewing arrangements and packing. And after some visits with family in the coming days, I’ll set off for the UK, where I’ll spend approximately a month and a half cycling through Ireland, Scotland, and England, and visiting several key sites that have figured prominently in the development of the Christian faith in that part of the world.
Of course, my pilgrimage is much more structured than it would have been for an ancient Celtic believer. I know (or at least, I think I know) where I’ll be each day. And I know how I’m getting from place to place. And yet, there’s also much that I don’t know. What unexpected developments might force a change in my plans? Who will I meet along the way? And how will God use my journey’s “wide open spaces” of both place and time to teach me new things about His goodness?
In the end, my prayer is that I’ll find my own “place of resurrection”–a place (or places) where silence, solitude, and prayer renew my spirit and prepare me for the continuing journey of following Jesus.
Thanks to all those who have prayed for and encouraged me along the way.
Let the journey begin…