All of life is a journey. We take paths that lead us toward certain goals, roads that wind around certain obstacles and detours that take us by certain scenic outlooks. Tracy Balzer, Director of Christian Formation at John Brown University, suggests travelling as pilgrims in this journey, rather than as tourists.
The difference, Balzer said, between travelling as a pilgrim and travelling as a tourist is that in a pilgrimage we are in constant search for God, where as a tourist we are looking for what is aesthetic to our self. Of course, it seems some places are easier to find God in than others. Balzer called these the ‘thin spots’ because it seems as though the space between heaven and earth is tissue paper thin.
Even while we are constantly searching for God, it can be difficult to discern His voice among the noise and clatter of life. Balzer advised us to pay attention to the ordinary things in the day. “The heavens don’t have to open” for God to speak to us, she said. Pay attention to the people surrounding you. Sometimes God speaks to us through other people. Pay attention to the atmosphere. How does the situation feel in your gut? Sometimes God speaks to us through our bodies. And what about pain? Is God really big enough to speak to us through our pain? Yes. Definitely. Jesus said: “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good courage for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
So whether we are on the path towards a goal, a road winding around an obstacle or a detour near a scenic outlook, let’s be pilgrims who look for and listen for God in our journey.