Goodbye Tourist, Hello Pilgrim


Psalm 84:1–5 (NIV)

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
   Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
   they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
   whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.


“The Spirit of Jesus in me greets the Spirit of Jesus in you and brings us together in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”

Picture us all now—all of our repacked bags arrayed in front of the bus. We are all posing for one more photograph outside the Beautiful Gate Pilgrim Lodge. There is a glow on our faces. And it’s not the Dead Sea facial products. We have been with Jesus. Remember how we began here at the Beautiful Gate on our way into the temple courts. Like everyone else, we walked past the nameless beggar, lame from birth, tossing a coin his way and moving on. We can never forget what happened on that day after the day of Pentecost can we—when those two followers of Jesus came upon him.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). 

Let’s just say the man formerly known as the beggar lame from birth at the gate called Beautiful shall forevermore be known to us as “Jumper.” 

It’s changed the way we pray. We still speak to God for people, but now we are speaking to people for God. We still stand with people and cry out to Jesus, but we are learning now to stand with Jesus and cry out to people in our prayers. 

And remember how the Holy Spirit moved among us, right there on King Solomon’s Porch and transported us to that last and greatest day of the ancient Feast of Tabernacles. Out of nowhere, there he was, Jesus himself, shouting loudly, 

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37–38).

Rivers. We are still declaring it over each other, aren’t we? Rivers! 

And who knew where it would go next. Even the tour guide seemed surprised. The ancient prophet Ezekiel came with that scroll. Then Jesus took over, walked us out through the north gate and around to the south side where he showed us the water trickling out from the temple. 

That was the moment the tour ended and the pilgrimage began, the moment we started following Jesus down river. The itinerary left the building. All the way to the Dead Sea He led us and beyond to the marshes of travail. 

So this morning as we are loading up the buses I am giving you a card. And on the card I want you to write Psalm 84:5,

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage is quite different from a tour, isn’t it? It is unpredictable, subject to shift and change from week to week, even day to day. A pilgrimage isn’t so much focused on a plan as it is a purpose. Really it is a winnowing and a sorting and sifting of so many purposes on the threshing floor of our lives until only one purpose remains—you, Jesus. Just you. For when you have become our purpose you become our strength. 

I love the way the great pilgrim guide Julian of Norwich put it:

And after this our Lord showed himself more glorified, to my eyes, than I saw Him before. By this I was taught that our soul shall never have rest till it comes to Him, knowing that He is fullness of joy, friendly and courteous, blissful and very life.

Our Lord Jesus said again and again,

“It is I; it is I; it is I who am highest; it is I whom you love; it is I whom you delight in; it is I whom you serve; it is I whom you long for, whom you desire; it is I whom you mean; it is I who am all.”

—St. Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Time to load up. You aren’t going to believe what’s next. 

Still day one. 


Father, our hearts are set on pilgrimage. The deeper we get into the Scriptures, the further off of our old script we go. Jesus, you are the New Script—the Word made flesh. You source us with the Spirit. We don’t know where we are even going anymore—only that we are going there with you. Our hearts are set on pilgrimage. Our strength, the very strength of the Holy Spirit, is in you. And we are blessed. Praying in Jesus’ name, amen. 


Have you set your heart on pilgrimage? What does that mean to you today? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. In my opinion, to accept that I am on a pilgrimage is to realize that the Christian faith is truly a journey to our promised land, the New heaven and New Earth. It becomes more clear on the necessity of traveling with companion s. This pilgrimage has a known destination, but requires a guide to lead the way, sense none of us has ever been there before. In this regard, we’re much like Abram, when he received the call to leave his known home and to venture to a land He’d never been to before. Jesus is my trusted guide and will lead me home to my promised land. All that is required of me is to remain focused on the Way and to invite others to come along. We’ve been warned that there will be challenges along the Way (Satan, the world and our own sin nature) but that our guide has overcome them. His call to us is “Follow Me”.

  2. Sometimes, I need a pair of Jesus-blinders.
    That will keep me on track for His plan and purpose and not my plan for Him. When my soul yearns to do good works for Him, He is not doing good works through me. That makes my ministries (shouldn’t I’ve written, “the ministries Jesus does through me?”) soul-led and not spirit-filled led. It seems I frequently grab at the bus’s steering wheel. Despite being sinfully corrupted, my soul yearns to do good. It’s not about my accomplishments for Jesus but what Jesus accomplishes through us. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always! I say again: Rejoice!” Not, rejoice in me.
    May I learn and apply the discernment of the Holy Spirit at work in my life. My emotions, thinking, and will want to do your will, but behind the curtain of the soul is me. You have torn that veil! This day my I decrease so you can increase. Show me how my spirit becomes Your spirit, where my soul wants nothing more than You!

  3. When Christinas no longer gather just to hear a sermon but gather instead to allow each person present to have the opportunity to be a living sermon sent from Jesus, passivity will leave the building as Christ’s pilgrims rise up to demonstrate His presence by saying and doing whatever He tells them to.

    For decades God has had me on a pilgrimage to go beyond Sunday morning programs and to gather with other believers in order to wait for God’s Spirit-prompted purposes for the gathering. When we begin to hear and respond to the Spirit speaking within us, the true Christian pilgrimage begins. (Search: Beyond Church Ekklesia.)

    Today, having my heart set on pilgrimage means that like the child Samuel I say to God: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then I focus on aligning my thoughts, desires, and emotions with how He wants to communicate to my heart so that He makes His words burn within me and stirs up His gifts and His fruit in my daily life.

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