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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Refugee or Pilgrim?

Life deals up problems for all of us at one time or another. Some are transitory and some are serious and long-lasting. How we get through them depends on our attitude.

I think we have a choice to live life as refugees or as pilgrims. If we live for the moment, adopting cultural values and passing fads as truth, then when tribulation comes we may find ourselves staggering along the road – emotionally, physically, or spiritually – in platform stilettos, clinging to our mascara and moisturizer. In other words, we may grab things which at the moment appear desirable or essential but in the long term are just rubbish. If, instead, we live deliberately, storing up truth as part of our daily diet, then when those tribulations come we may also be staggering along a road, but our feet will be well-shod and we will be gripping those things which feed our souls – a Bible and a notebook, perhaps. 

As a refugee, every trial is negative – something to be gotten through, overcome, pushed behind us. It may be seen as a lonely time, almost a shameful time, when our lives have collapsed though others around us seem to be doing ok. It is a blip in the plan of our lives, a plan for a life of ease, perhaps, of laughter and good moments. 

As a pilgrim, every trial – though painful – can be seen as positive. An adventure, an opportunity to see new things through God’s eyes. Perspective. Vision. Eternity. Jesus promises always to be with us. Never to leave us. So as we stagger along the bumpy trail, he is there to help. Faith becomes reality, and the reality of experiencing his presence turns the whole episode into a blessing. One which might never have been chosen but which, in the end, you wouldn’t want to have missed.

We’ve known refugees, and they arrived with us carrying a couple of hold-alls. We’ve contemplated being pilgrims along the route to Santiago de Campostela, where we would carry less than a couple of hold-alls. 

What we think we need, is not always what is important. Help me to define today, in my thoughts and actions, what is essential, and what can be left behind. And to structure my actions accordingly.

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