I never finished reading Pilgrim's Progress; never really got into allegory and so I just couldn't make myself complete that book. But that book has come to mind lately, because in traveling from church to church throughout my Christian walk, I am definitely feeling the pilgrim role personally.
The church we have been attending is having a membership class. We are intending to attend the class, but we agree that we aren't ready to commit to being members there. The church has no apparent flaws except, naturally, ourselves (though of course I fully realize that even apart from us, it is not perfect); the pastor seems solid, the people are friendly and engaging, there are plenty of ways to be involved, it is active in the community. Gary even likes the building. But I am not ready to attach there, and I'm not sure that even if we're there 20 years that I'll come to that place of attachment again.
In one church we attended, a woman came and spoke to the girls about purity. She compared attaching to boyfriends to the stickum on the back of a post-it note, that the more times it gets stuck to something, the less sticky it eventually becomes--that eventually even commitment to marriage seems like an option rather than the lifelong stand that it is. In some ways I connect that to the continuum of churches as well, but it is not a perfect picture. In most of our churches I've been glad for the end of our time there and looking forward to the next one; in this last one the inverse was true. I hated the concept of leaving, and in fact for the first time dreaded even thinking about the next church. While my heart has been given to Jesus, I feel that I left some other part of me--perhaps a kidney--under some stone in the churchyard at our last church.
So I feel like a pilgrim. Until recently I cringed at the history of our having gone from church to church; I've now come to accept that it's just where God has led us, and there wasn't much option but to go that route. In fact, that wandering may be sort of a more accurate picture--is it an allegory, or is it the actual aspect?--of our life on earth as strangers and aliens. I may put my backpack down while I busy myself in this new church; I won't withhold myself from being fully involved. But I'm keeping my pack in sight, and I'll be ready to pick it up if for any extended time I don't see the tracks of Jesus where the leadership's footprints go. God has made it clear to me too many times not to put my trust in man, but in Him; I will follow the leadership as they follow Christ. My backpack is handy, and I'm not ready to give up another kidney for some time.
"Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner like all my fathers." Psalm 39:12
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