Devotion: Tourist or Pilgrim?

“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.”   Mark 10:32

While visiting my in-laws in Colorado, they decided to take us to Coors to tour the brewery.  Huddled into a group of about 12 people, we shuffled for about an hour through the different rooms, and with each stop the tour guide tried to hold our attention with some joke. Yet, if you looked into the hearts of each person on the tour, you knew what they wanted to see: the “Tasting Room.” Finally, when we arrived at the tasting room, our tour guide proceeded to share, “oh by the way if you all come back, we sell speed passes that let you come straight to the tasting room. It’s very popular with the college students in Golden.” A man next to me grunted, “Seriously? I just wasted an hour on that, when I coulda just come straight here?”

hikerIt struck me at that moment, how much of our life do we spend as spiritual tourists, looking for a shortcut to some tasting room of life.

I once met a young couple who attended my church. They shared that they had been to 36 churches in 40 weeks. I was flabbergasted, not only at their variety, but also their dedication–I don’t think I had been that frequently, and I get paid to go to church.

As spiritual tourists do we just come to check out the new pastor, kick the tires of the new church, try out a new worship experience or to hear some new truth in order to excite our lives. We file past, standing behind the velvet ropes for a moment, only wanting to see the highlights, so we can snap a picture and say, “I was there.”

However, rather than being a spiritual tourist, what would it mean if you were a spiritual pilgrim?

Tourists get new T-shirts; Pilgrims tatter their existing ones.

Pilgrims are not always looking for the highlight, but learn to embrace the flat, dull, and mundane terrain as an opportunity to recuperate. They do not want to take the easy paved trail, but blaze a new trail through the boulders. They are not looking for shortcuts, but enjoying the hard work of the journey. They are not heading towards some monument–like the Coors Tasting Room–but looking to leave footprints along the path.

As William Faulkner wrote, “A monument only says, ‘At least I got this far,’ while a footprint says, ‘this is where I was when I moved again.'”

Are you looking to be a spiritual tourist or a spiritual pilgrim? One who leads or one who watches?

>chewed on from Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

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