I decided a couple weeks ago to fast from books in order to spend more time reading the Bible. A lot of my students would welcome that kind of opportunity (at least the no books part), but for me, it really is a sacrifice. I’ve been re-reading a book we’re using for a teaching series to keep it fresh for lessons, but that’s it as far as recent book consumption. I still read some periodicals online and off, but no books. I’ve decided to focus my reading time on Scripture instead, which is technically a book (or at least a library) but I guess I put it in a separate category from other books I typically read (you know, the whole divine authorship thing really does warrant some special consideration!).
Anyway, none of that is really the point, so I should probably get to it!
I was reading (in an allowable ministry periodical) a book review of Eugene Peterson’s “A Long Obedience In the Same Direction” (which is not against my ‘no books’ fast) and came across a statement that raised a great question: “Spritually speaking in the church, are we living more as tourists or pilgrims?”
A tourist is there for enjoyment, so when things get rough, he goes home (or moves on to another ‘tour’ somewhere else). The pilgrim determines where he is headed and keeps going, even when doing so is obviously going to be painful and difficult. In my ministry, I want to know where God is leading and go there with determination.
Even right now, I have a pretty good idea of how God is leading our student ministry. But Satan keeps reminding me how tough it will be to overcome the obstacles on the way to where we are going. The tourist in me says, “Find an easier way. Keep the kids happy and occupied and the parents will be pleased and I can keep my job… Don’t push too hard ~ they’re just kids.” (Yes, Dave it is still your 14 year old voice I hear in my head every time the ‘just kids’ phrase comes up…) But the pilgrim knows that whatever diversion I can concoct to make my path a little more smooth is only going to end in us not getting to the right destination. As these two wrestle within me, may God provide strength for whatever lies ahead in the journey.
“A Long Obedience…” will go on my reading list… but not yet. For now, though, I’ll be spending some time with the subject matter of the book, The Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) May these songs encourage us to stay the course in the difficult legs of our journey.