Hearts on pilgrimage

The Bible declares God's people to be aliens and strangers on the earth. Hebrews 11:10 states "Abraham was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." Then in Hebrews 11:16 it is noted that God's people were, "longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."

As institutions crumble around us, the hope of the believer grows only brighter. A failing economy, a weakened nation, wars and rumors of wars - these things simply remind the believer that this planet is not where he should place his hope. The Word declares that life is fleeting, like a vapor. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul wrote, "What I mean brothers is that the time is short.... those who buy something as though it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world as though not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away."

The Bible shows us the blessing of keeping a light touch. Psalm 84:5 reads "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage."

We are just passing through. The benefit of sorrows and afflictions is that they remind us of our longing for the heavenly mansions of which Jesus spoke in John 14. To the believers in Rome, Paul wrote, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us."

As a 60-year-old pastor I can look back on the joys of a life spent with God. As I get older, I more and more realize that nothing in this life is mine to keep. Like so many others, our savings and home equity have been bludgeoned by this bad economy. The upside is that in tough times believers are ever more reliant upon God. We are taught to pray "give us this day our daily bread." Our God will sustain us until the end. Jesus said we are to lay up treasures in heaven. On earth our treasures can be eaten by moths and taken by thieves. But the Lord has an enduring city for His people. Dear believer, do not be saddened by the brevity of life, but rather be heartened by where the journey ends.

I love John Bunyan's work, "Pilgrims Progress." Pilgrim is living in the City of Destruction and he receives a message to flee the wrath that is coming. Mr. Evangelist points him to the cross of Christ where the burden of sin rolls off his back. He then faces a difficult journey embattled by Satan and the world. His faith is tested. At the end, the Celestial City is in sight in all of its glory and majesty. He has only one river yet to cross, the sleep of death. The Christian leaves his earthly body in the dust and receives a new glorious body. He is united with Jesus Christ for a wedding supper and spends eternity in the New Jerusalem. Rejoice pilgrim of Christ, for your redemption draws nigh!

Roger Scalice is pastor of Streams of Grace Church, 455 S. Kirkland Road, Golden Valley. He can also be reached by e-mail at streamsofgracechurch@live.com or leave a message at 565-9611.